Gisele Bundchen Reveals She Was Bullied as a Kid: ‘My Career Was Never Based on Pretty’

Gisele Bundchen
Bundchen walks the runway during the Colcci show in 2015. 

Say what? Even the world's highest paid supermodel, Gisele Bundchen, has dealt with her share of bullying and self-doubt. The Brazilian-born beauty revealed to The New York Times in a new interview on Sunday, May 15, that she was taunted as a child for her figure and face, and even throughout her successful modeling history.

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“My career was never based on pretty,” Bundchen, 35, recalled to the Times' Style section. "Even before I got into the business, I was used to being bullied because I was always tall and skinny and stuck out. I got really red all the time from playing volleyball, red like a pepper. So I thought bullying was just the way life is."

That followed Bundchen into adulthood as she slowly took over runways in the ‘90s and eclipsed her peers. “In the beginning, you know, everyone told me, ‘Your eyes are too small, the nose is too big, you can never be on a magazine cover,’” the model, who is married Tom Brady, recalled. “But, you know what? The big nose is coming with a big personality.”

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Bundchen revealed that those physical insecurities, however, forced her to build something sustainable. “I always knew that, even if I was not the most beautiful girl, I’d be the most energetic and hard-working,” she shared. “If you want to know the truth, that’s the reason for my success.”

The star's upbringing also contributed heavily to her success. "When I was a kid, I never even thought about fashion,” Bundchen recalled. “I had one pair of jeans.” She was also raised in a family of six girls. “I’m a twin, I’m a Cancer, I’m always taking care of other people,” Bundchen told the Times. “I’ve always been the fixer in the family, the responsible one. I’ve always been a hard worker, never late for a job in my life. Really, ask anyone.”

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"This opportunity was given to me when I left home at 14 and I was not going to come back empty-handed,” she recalled of being discovered at a mall food court. “What else can a 14-year-old do to make money? I was determined to make it work.”

Two years later, iconic fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier cast a then-unknown Bundchen for a Harper's Bazaar editorial. "Some people on the sitting were saying, “Oh, she’s not too pretty, she has a big nose,” Demarchelier recalled to the Times. “But I said, ‘No, no, I like her.’ She was smart and outgoing, always happy, and clearly already knew what she was doing. Immediately, right away, you could see that the girl was special. She got 20 pages right away."

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