Gisele Bündchen has been the highest-paid supermodel in the world every year since 2004. When she was starting out in Brazil back in 1995, however, she was told she’d never make it.
"I remember some people telling me my nose was too big or my eyes were too small, that I could never be on a magazine cover," she tells People. "It wasn’t easy to be 14 and hear that kind of criticism. It made me feel insecure." To deal with the scrutiny, she says her dad told her to start telling casting agents, "I have a big nose and that comes with a big personality."
Before finally getting cast in an Alexander McQueen runway show in 1998 at age 16 (the one that got her the nickname "the body"), Gisele received 42 casting rejections. Forty-two! "At that point I felt, if I kept working hard and giving my best, it would all work out," she says.
Of course, that gig led to countless covers, runways, and, eventually, a $25 million contract with Victoria’s Secret in 2000 (the same time she famously started dating Leonardo DiCaprio, which, she says "brought a lot more attention to me, which is something I didn’t feel very comfortable with.")
Gisele, now 35, walked her last runway show last year but insists she’s not done completely. "I love learning and I love creating and I feel that will always be a part of my life," she says. "I am just emptying my glass so I can fill it with things that are more aligned with who I am today."
What things? Oh, perhaps the world’s most beautiful family: