Karolina Kurkova About Her Own Teen Insecurities: “It Wasn’t Just One Time — It Was All The Time”

You would think that out of all the people in the world who’ve spent time in front of a mirror, supermodels generally like what they see. For the small group of women who are known for their rare, alluring looks, it can seem ludicrous that they’d ever feel self-conscious. But, in our new video series No Filter, model Karolina Kurkova confirms something we’ve discussed before: Sometimes feeling insecure, ugly, and different is universal.
“When I was young, I stood out. I was different. I was the tallest girl. I was a stick, super-skinny, and looked different. It wasn’t just one time — it was all the time,” Kurkova told us. Growing up in Czechoslovakia, Kurkova’s looks may have made her feel badly about standing out, but it was those same attributes that made her one of the most iconic faces of this generation. “It’s not an easy thing, but I think we all go through some sort of disappointment and insecurities through our lives eventually. It’s really about your attitude and how you deal with it, and how you let it affect you or not; and what’s your armor that you’re building for yourself to not let it affect you as much." Of course, she's not naive about how hard that is. She felt criticism to her core, too. "It did affect me, but I think that also built who I am; having these long legs and big teeth became my thing.” Success, she adds, is the best form of revenge.

Kurkova’s revenge, then, has been complete. The 31-year-old model has dominated both the worlds of high and commercial fashion (she’s not only covered all the major fashion magazines, but has also been the campaign face for dozens of luxury brands, mass retail brands, and has been a Victoria’s Secret Angel). But even after establishing herself as one of the most relevant and compelling models of the 2000s, Kurkova wasn’t immune to scrutiny about her body. When she gained weight because of hypothyroidism and premature menopause in 2009, the media was cruel and relentless, but Kurkova now looks back on that time in a generous, realistic way: “Not everybody’s going to be nice, not everybody’s going to be your best friend, and not everybody’s gonna think you’re beautiful, or you’re cool… It’s just the way it is. We’re not made to love and to mix with everyone. Olive oil and vinegar are not meant to blend all the time together. I think that’s something that’s always been there, and it’s always going to be there.”

What’s helped Kurkova get through these bouts of negativity, is her support system — and her son. “Giving birth to my son is when it all kind of settled for me, in a way that was like 'Okay, this is who I am and I’m so grateful to who I am.' I became very confident about who I am. Not just physically, but spiritually and mentally." Literally becoming a mom was empowering to her, too: "That experience is so powerful and incredible. Giving birth to your child and physically pushing your baby out gives you so much strength and confidence. If I could do that, I can do anything, and no one can tell me what I’m worth." And ultimately, it cured her of ever caring about the little stuff again. "We all want to be loved, we all want to be liked, we all want to be the best — I guess that’s natural. But I just think that when you have people who depend on you, you don’t have time anymore for bullshit.”

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