Everyone knows the Gisele Bündchen. The incredibly famous and talented model was born in Brazil in 1980. Her career began when she was just a teenager and flourished until Bündchen decided to retire in 2015 at the age of 34. Some 15 years earlier, the young model had signed a huge deal with Victoria’s Secret — to the tune of $25 million — and thus she became one of the highest-paid supermodels across the globe.
While Bündchen’s fast-paced professional life is certainly fascinating, we also couldn’t help but get invested in her high-profile romantic relationships over the years. Um, hello, Leonardo DiCaprio? After her relationship with the Oscar-winning actor came to an end, Bündchen began dating another big name — though, this time, not an actor. Bündchen and New England Patriots’ Tom Brady fell in love, and, in 2009, they said “I do.” They’ve gone on to have two children since.
But while her marriage to Brady may be common knowledge by now, there are definitely some things about Gisele Bündchen that even her biggest fans don’t know.
This fast food restaurant changed her life
We may all be guilty of being a bit hyperbolic in saying a particular meal was “life-changing,” but, for Bündchen, this would be no exaggeration.
Bündchen was raised in a small agricultural town called Horizontina in Brazil. As reported by Vanity Fair, it was there that she decided to take her first modeling class when she just 13 years old. After the class, Bündchen and the other students got to visit the big city of São Paulo. The trip was exciting in and of itself: She got to see a real mall, visit an amusement park, and eat her first McDonald’s meal. It was at the fast food restaurant that Bündchen was approached by a modeling agent who, of course, asked her if she wanted to become a model — how’s that for a happy meal?
“I had never seen fashion magazines,” Bündchen recalled of her experience to Vanity Fair, “and I told my mom I didn’t want to be a model, and my mom wasn’t sure, either.”
She felt like a 'fish out of water' in the fashion world
After participating in her first modeling contest, Bündchen was chosen to move to São Paulo to model on a full-time basis. By the time she was 16 years old, Bündchen was living in New York City and sharing a room with four other girls. Despite being in close quarters with aspiring models, Bündchen never felt all that at home. “I was watching all the chaos but never getting that close,” she revealed to Vogue. “Drugs. Girls coming and going, some making it, some heading down a bad path and going home.” Bündchen said the environment in which she was living just wasn’t “matching the things I was interested in.”
When Alexander McQueen cast the young model in his spring-summer show of 1998, her fame skyrocketed. By summer 1999, she graced the cover of U.S. Vogue for the first time. Still, it wasn’t really her scene. “I’m a Cancer, the little crab,” she explained. “Loves the home, her sanctuary, all the cozy things. So I was a fish out of water in fashion.”
She wanted to play a professional sport instead
“From the time I was very young, I was thinking about financial security,” Bündchen divulged to Vanity Fair. Of course, she probably couldn’t have imagined that she’d one day have a reported net worth of $400 million.
As a kid, Bündchen was a straight-A student who had an interest in volleyball. As it turns out, she wanted to go pro in the sport. According to her profile in Vanity Fair, she was so good at volleyball that she may have been able to become a professional athlete had she not pursued the modeling course in her hometown. In the time between being spotted by a modeling agent in McDonald’s and attending her first modeling contest, Bündchen continued to practice volleyball. In fact, she showed up to her first modeling contest sporting her “volleyball outfit.”
Although she never did end up playing on a professional level, Bündchen has been seen playing the sport for fun over the years. Hmm, do you think she lets Brady win?
Mastering multiple languages
Having hailed from Brazil, Bündchen’s first language was Portuguese. When she first arrived in New York in the mid-’90s, she knew but a few words of English. She told Vanity Fair that she can remember going from one casting call to the next “saying yes to everything because I didn’t understand but didn’t want to seem stupid.”
Although that strategy may be ill-advised, she did end up securing work. With an eye roll, Bündchen explained to the magazine why she took mostly runway work early on in her career, saying, “People didn’t think I was pretty enough to take pictures of, but they thought I was a good walker.” Thankfully, fashion caught up — and quickly. French fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier told the publication that just “eight months later everyone wanted Gisele.”
From her modeling career, Bündchen was able to learn three new languages: Italian, Spanish, and English. Oh, and yes, she’s fluent — in all of them.
She took a stand against fur
Gisele Bündchen may have started her career by “saying yes to everything,” but she would eventually harness the power of “no.”
In response to Bündchen’s decision to work with furrier Blackglama, animal rights protestors took to the catwalk of the 2002 Victoria’s Secret fashion show with signs that read “Gisele: Fur Scum.” Bündchen finished the show, but, as she revealed to Vanity Fair, she was rattled. At the time, she thought the protestors were going to hurt her. Then, she realized what the protest was all about.
“Suddenly it dawned on me,” she told Vogue. “I was in the hamster wheel: I’m just going to go out there and be a good girl and do what my agent tells me to do. What do I know?” Animal rights activists sent her videos of the fur trade behind the scenes and Bündchen took action. “So I said, ‘Listen, I’m not doing fur campaigns.’ It put me in the driver’s seat, finally,” she revealed.
The secret surgery she regrets
After Bündchen had two adorable children, Benjamin and Vivian, with husband Tom Brady, her body naturally changed. (Though, you could’ve fooled us.)
“I was always praised for my body, and I felt like people had expectations from me that I couldn’t deliver,” Bündchen admitted in an interview with People. The mother of two went on to say how she felt “very vulnerable” because, while she can up her exercise and eat healthy, she “can’t change the fact that both of my kids enjoyed the left boob more than the right.” After breastfeeding both of her children for more than 18 months each, she said her breasts became smaller and uneven. “All I wanted was for them to be even and for people to stop commenting on it,” she admitted.
Bündchen decided to secretly have breast augmentation surgery in 2015, as she revealed in her memoir Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life (via People). When she awoke from surgery, she instantly regretted it. “I felt like I was living in a body I didn’t recognize,” she admitted.
She once contemplated suicide
When Bündchen was in her twenties, she began experiencing panic attacks. It all started with a flight in a six-seater plane in Costa Rica, she revealed to Good Morning America. At one point in the flight, the plane started shaking like a “leaf” and, although it would land safely, a fear of small spaces, or claustrophobia, would accompany Bündchen wherever she went.
“It started with a little plane ride, but then it became, like, tunnels, subways, elevators,” she said. She revealed that she would take the stairs to and from her ninth floor apartment just to avoid the suffocating feeling she experienced in elevators.
At one point, her fears became so severe that she once contemplated jumping from her apartment. Through tears, Bündchen said, “Living like this was very hard because life was like, it was like I was trapped and I couldn’t breathe — even outside of my own balcony.”
Thankfully, instead of ending her life, Bündchen decided to take steps to drastically improve it.
She's a hardcore meditator
Bündchen thinks meditation and yoga were vital to saving her life. “Somebody told me a quote that I thought was fantastic one time: ‘The mind is an instrument, don’t let it play you,'” she explained. Ever since her twenties, Bündchen has meditated “nearly every single day,” according to a Vogue profile of the supermodel.
She even meditated through the birth of her son. That’s right — during childbirth. Benjamin, Bündchen and Brady’s first child, was born at home in a bathtub. “I wanted to experience the transformation,” Bündchen told Vogue. With the assistance of a midwife from Brazil, her mother, and her husband, Bündchen gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She added, “It was the most amazing experience of my life, feeling him come through my body. And once he was born, I never felt so empowered as looking at him and thinking, Oh, my God, we did it together!”
And once her children headed to school, she helped to start a meditation program for them and their fellow classmates.
She didn't meet her stepson's mother for years
Although Brady and Bündchen may seem like the perfect couple, they got off to a, well, let’s just say, interesting start. Not even three months into the couple’s relationship, Brad’s ex-girlfriend of three years, Bridget Moynahan, announced she was expecting a baby — with Brady. The model and actress made the decision to have the baby on her own.
At the time, Bündchen wondered if Brady should’ve gotten back with his ex. Though, now she says it was a “blessing.” She told Vanity Fair, “Our relationship has become so much stronger, and I think I wouldn’t be as certain as I am today if it weren’t for that.”
Moynahan gave birth to a son, John, in August 2007, and, although both Brady and Bündchen are involved in his life, Bündchen didn’t meet Moynahan for some time. “I understand that he has a mom, and I respect that, but to me it’s not like because somebody else delivered him, that’s not my child. I feel it is, 100 percent,” Bündchen said in 2009.
Her relationship with Tom Brady isn't perfect — but it's pretty close
Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen may have had enough drama in the very beginning of their relationship to last them a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean their romance has been smooth sailing ever since. Due to Brady’s demanding career, Bündchen has handled most of the childcare. Though, it wasn’t easy. She admitted to People that it was difficult adjusting to motherhood — and all that came with it — at first. She said that this adjustment also put a strain on her relationship with Brady. “You’re overwhelmed and tired and then you’re not the nicest partner,” she told the publication.
Over the years, Bündchen and Brady have had their disagreements about minor and, yes, major things too — including when Brady should retire. Nevertheless, they continue to work at their relationship. “When someone you love is happy, it makes you happy, or if they’re sad it makes you sad,” she told People. “You suffer with them and you have joy with them.” Okay, #relationshipgoals much?
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