gisele bündchen was rejected 42 times before she took over the fashion world

'I remember some people telling me my nose was too big or my eyes were too small,' the impossibly proportioned Brazilian recalls.

by Hannah Ongley
29 April 2016, 3:40pm

photography matt jones

The story of a 14-year-old Gisele Bündchen being scouted while eating a Big Mac at McDonalds is one of the most legendary modeling success stories of all time. Almost equally epic are the accounts of Kate Moss being spotted in the arrivals lounge at JFK airport and Natalia Vodianova selling fruit at a market stall in an impoverished part of Russia. What we don't often hear are the depressing chapters that come between being scouted and actually landing a job. 

Despite being one of the most flawless humans to ever walk this earth, Bünchen was rejected multiple times before ever being booked for a modeling job. "I remember some people telling me my nose was too big or my eyes were too small, the impossibly proportioned Brazilian recently told People. One particularly shrewd agent even told her she could never be on a magazine cover. "It wasn't easy to be 14 and hear that kind of criticism," she says. "It made me feel insecure."

Nevertheless, at 16 years old she moved to New York, where leggy teenagers in fast food joints are a dime a dozen. "I was going to castings daily, but work was still very slow," she says. After a crushing 42 rejections, Bündchen finally booked a runway show in 1998 for Alexander McQueen. That led to a Vogue cover, an Irving Penn shoot hailing the beauty as the "return of the curve," and a pair of very extravagant Angel wings. (And a relationship with some dude named Leonardo DiCaprio). 

Bünchen is now happily married to fellow ridiculously good-looking person Tom Brady. But their life isn't all red carpets and Golden Arches — if there's one thing on this earth more difficult than being rejected for a job 42 times, it's sticking to an 80/20 raw diet on vacation. Just another reason Bündchen deserves every penny of her reported $44 million paycheck. 


Text Hannah Ongley
The Head Shoulders Knees and Toes Issue #307

self esteem
gisele bündchen