The trailblazing supermodel and face of Estée Lauder sounds off on diversity, self-love, and what she really eats before the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.
When you were growing up in Puerto Rico, who taught you about beauty?
My mother and grandmother. We lived in the countryside and walked everywhere, and they’d always tell me to avoid the sun and drink lots of water. My grandmother was a simple woman. If she owned ChapStick, that was a big deal. But my mother, to this day, will say, “Aren’t you gonna put some lipstick on?” I’m like, “Mommy, I do have lipstick on. It’s called nude.”
At what age did you start wearing makeup?
Around 14. I have two older sisters, and I’d always watch them get dressed. The first thing I learned from them was how to do a baby cat eye. I would always steal their liquid liner.
If you need to be out the door in five minutes, what’s your beauty routine?
I moisturize, fill in my brows, throw on concealer and mascara, and put my hair into a bun or do a loose wave.
Did you always want to model?
No, I wanted to be a veterinarian. But one year I grew really tall, and I was awkwardly skinny. People would tell my parents to put me in modeling, so I entered a competition — and lost. I still wanted to give it a try, so I came to New York and did open calls with agencies. I got rejected by a bunch of them but eventually got signed.
You’ve talked about the discrimination you’ve experienced in your career. As one of the leading faces of color in modeling, do you feel you have a responsibility to promote diversity?
Absolutely. The world we live in has so many faces from different backgrounds, and it’s important that the industry be reflective of that. Everyone should be represented in some way, shape, or form.
Have you always been so confident?
I’ve always been sure of who I am. It’s how my parents raised me. I don’t linger on negativity or get put off by what people say. There will always be someone who accepts me and the way I look.
What did you eat the day of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show?
I had scrambled eggs with herbs and cheese, a croissant, and a fresh juice in the morning. Then at the show, I ate something sweet because I needed sugar. I honestly don’t have the inner power to deprive myself. I’m Puerto Rican — I love flavorful food.