Looking at models today, we always gaze in bewilderment at how strikingly gorgeous they are. Of course, it begs us to wonder if they were born blessed with those great cheekbones. Genetics play a huge role in shaping a model's career - after all, not everyone is born to be tall - so being gifted with good DNA is crucial for these lanky beauties.
The story of how models start making big names for themselves is usually the same. They fly under the radar until one fateful day they get discovered by a scout. Going from anonymity to having their faces splattered on every magazine and catwalk, we wonder what they were like before fame hit. Did they always want to be models? Did they have other ambitions? Some supermodels have spoken out about being bullied for looking differently when they were younger. While it's hard to believe anyone would want to make fun of Cindy Crawford, for example, she's certainly having the last laugh now as one of the most famous models to exist.
We've rounded up 20 photos of top models that we all recognize in the present day, except they're sporting awkward haircuts and cheesy smiles all from the adorable days of their youth.
20 Miranda Kerr, Who Has Always Known How To Rock A Gown
Unsurprisingly enough, it turns out that Miranda Kerr had the same adorable smile that she now so confidently flaunts on Victoria's Secret runway shows! Seen above with her brother, her family is still very important to her to this day. According to E! News, she credits her family for keeping her sane in such a competitive industry. "Health, love, happiness, family, friendship," she explained. "They've kept me focused and positive through various transitions in life." Her most important family member now is her son Flynn, who she says inspires her every day. "Just seeing the world through his eyes is so refreshing. Nothing matters more than the simple things in life like family, health, and love."
19 Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Who Was Discovered By A Modeling Agency When She Was In High School
Known for being a beautiful Victoria's Secret Angel with her signature full pout, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wasn't always so blessed with wonderful critics. According to Glamour, her younger years saw her bullied for her unique look, having her classmates call her "Kipper lips." As she explained to Harper's Bazaar, “I was a bit of an Ugly Betty when I was 15." Suddenly, at the age of 16, the haters disappeared, and she was voted one of the prettiest girls in her school. Scouted in 2003 while she was still in high school, she was discovered by Profile Model Agency, and the rest is most certainly history.
18 Kendall Jenner As A Young Tot, Although She Was Basically Born Into Fame
With her older sister catapulting their entire family into fame, Kendall Jenner didn't really have a childhood where she wasn't in the limelight. It also turns out that although she's grown up with cameras around her, she's actually really shy. As per The List, she once told Harper's Bazaar that she's not open with new people. "Sometimes I'm very closed off, which annoys me, but I think it's for the best." She also admitted to crying in her bedroom as a young girl since Kylie had so many friends and she didn't. Now that she's older and in the modeling industry, she has plenty of close pals to choose from.
17 Ashley Graham, Who Was A Tomboy Before Was The Glam Queen She Is Today
Still sporting the same smile she rocks so well today, Ashley Graham posted the above photo to her Instagram page, captioning, "Remember these little scooter things?! And you can't tell me nothing about my white tube socks." A self-proclaimed tomboy, Ashley spoke out to People and said she was already 5'9" and a size 12 by middle school. This led to plenty of bullying from her classmates - giving her a thicker skin later on. She said that once she moved to New York to first pursue her career in modeling, agents and stylists weren't ready for her body type just yet, which led to plenty of taunts about her weight.
16 Gigi Hadid, Who Puffed Up Her Hair For Guess Kids
Gigi and Bella are both daughters of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star and former model Yolanda Foster and wealthy real estate developer Mohamed Hadid. Much like Kendall and Kylie Jenner's reality TV upbringing, they both appeared on Real Housewives in the background of their mother's drama.
As per Jezebel, Gigi signed with IMG models in 2011 and graduated from high school in 2013. As shown above, she started her modeling journey with Guess as a young girl, returning as the face of the denim company's campaign in the fall of 2012. Since then, she's dominated the fashion industry and become one of the most sought-after models in the world along with Kendall Jenner.
15 Adriana Lima, Who Would Obviously Grow Up To Be A Model
With her striking eyes and glorious tan, we know her as Victoria's Secret's longest-running model, but how was the road to fame for Brazilian beauty, Adriana Lima? According to Glamour, she started modeling at the age of 15 when she won Ford's 'Supermodel of Brazil' competition and signed with Elite Model Management. She's claimed that she never considered a career in modeling before but took the plunge after her friends pushed her to enter the competition, repeatedly citing her height and beauty.
Fast forward to present day, where she's actually Forbes' second-highest earning model since 2014, with good reason too!
14 Karlie Kloss, Who Admitted To Being Bullied As A Teenager
No one would think Karlie got bullied as a girl when she was younger. As per Marie Claire, she already walked in 64 runway shows by the time she was 16, and coming back home was difficult for the leggy beauty. "There was a lot of material for kids at home to tease me about. I'd go back to high school from Paris with bleached brows —my peers didn't read Vogue or care about fashion; they would think, 'weird tall alien'." She mentions this made her very self-conscious and shy - if high school isn't already daunting enough! If looking like Karlie means looking like a weird alien, sign us up!
13 Kate Moss At 14, During Her First Ever Photoshoot
Definitely one of the most influential models of all time, Kate Moss is iconic. According to Harper's Bazaar, she was famously spotted in 1988 while talking to her father at JFK Airport and taken to photographer Owen Scarbiena for her first shoot. Obviously having potential, the second those photos were taken the rest was history.
As written in Glamour, she wasn't much of an academic youth when she was younger, receiving one C grade in Science and the rest being Ds, Es, and Fs. Thank goodness she didn't decide to go the academic route, because modeling certainly suits her better!
12 Bella Hadid, Who Looked Like An Adorable Angel Before She Rose To Fame
Although Bella Hadid is now one of the most in-demand models along with her sister Gigi and Kendall Jenner, she wasn't always so camera friendly. As reported by InStyle, Bella used to tell her mom as a girl, “no more pictures mommy,” which is ironic considering she's surrounded by cameras every day of her life now.
Her mother was differently big on photos being taken, as Bella got photographed wherever she went, never shy from cheesing for the camera. She's definitely thanking mother Yolanda now, as it's with all that practicing for family photos that she's now able to make a name for herself modeling.
11 Cindy Crawford, Who Rocked Braces Just Like The Rest Of Us
Proving she's more than just a pretty face, Cindy Crawford was ultra smart in school with dreams of becoming a nuclear physicist! Unfortunately, it was her brain that got her in trouble, and as reported by Glamour, she was bullied for being a straight-A student. Since kids are definitely known to be cruel, the bullying actually got worse when she landed her first modeling gig, as it caused major jealousy amongst her classmates. According to Elle, it was that first shoot that appeared in the Chicago Tribune that kids passed around in school, making fun of her. Cindy was the one having the last laugh, however, as she scored $150 - a lot more than just the allowances her peers received.
10 Kaia Gerber, Who Was Destined To Follow In Her Mother's Footsteps
Recognize that face? No, that's not Cindy Crawford as a young girl, but her daughter, Kaia Gerber, who looks startlingly similar to her supermodel mom. Living proof that genetics mean the world in modeling, Kaia has already set herself up as fashion's next "it" girl and is following in her mother's footsteps. It's great that she has her mom to protect her from the dark side of modeling, too. Cindy once told W Magazine, "Let's be honest. My kids are blessed in that business because they aren't coming in as unknowns. People know that I will come after them if they mess with my kids."
9 Gisele Bundchen, Who We're Shocked To Find Out Was Bullied For Her Looks
Gisele Bündchen, the world-renowned supermodel that's appeared 11 times on the cover of American Vogue and has a personal net worth estimated in excess of $300 million, was bullied as a child - as reported by the New York Times. When she first showed up on the scene as a 14-year-old-tomboy, she was told that her eyes were too small and her nose was too big. With her critics explaining she would never be on a magazine cover, she went out to prove them wrong.
Now enjoying her daily income flow that Forbes calculated at $128,000, it's safe to say Gisele managed to prove everyone wrong.
8 Cara Delevigne, A Self-Proclaimed Gremlin Child
The world has Cara Delevingne to thank for single-handedly abolishing the thin eyebrow trend, replacing it with rebellious and natural bushy brows. She wasn't always seen as such a beauty icon, however, as the British stunner once revealed she never, ever thought she could be a model. According to The Front Row View, she referred to herself as a "weird gremlin" growing up, and never considered herself appealing. "I never thought people would actually want me to be a model. I was a very weird gremlin, awkward-looking child." Being a tomboy certainly didn't help either, as she never properly groomed herself to be demure.
We bet she's definitely thankful now that she never wasted her time in front of the mirror plucking her eyebrows to oblivion!
7 Candice Swanepoel, Who Grew Up On A Dairy And Beef Farm
South African beauty Candice Swanepoel grew up on a beef and dairy farm, as reported by BabyGaga. Raised with eating animal products, she to this day still eats what she did growing up, not following any strict dietary regimen at all. Claiming her secret to staying in shape is daily workouts and her fantastic genetics, Candice doesn't shy away from indulging.
She's missed her upbringing in the past, as she's described it as the perfect childhood. According to PPCorn, she's said, “What I had on the farm I could never find anywhere else, ever again.”
6 Tyra Banks, Whose Yearbook Photo Actually Predicted Her Supermodel Success
Having spoken up multiple times for being bullied as a child, Tyra Banks didn't have an easy time growing up. According to Daily Mail, she was bullied as a child for being pencil-thin. When she was 11 years old, she went from being a healthy looking young girl to growing three extra inches and losing 30 pounds in the space of three months. This resulted in her forcing food down her throat but still being unable to gain any weight. "I wasn't sick, but people thought there was something wrong with me. I was the brunt of every joke."
That height would go on to help her with her modeling career, and her classmates eventually loosened up, with the caption of her above yearbook photo reading, "Tyra the future super-super model of the universe," as reported by Snakkle.
5 Taylor Hill, Whose Ex-Boyfriend Regretted Breaking Up With Her
Before becoming a Victoria's Secret veteran, winning Model of the Year at the Fashion Media Awards, AND becoming close pals with Taylor Swift, Taylor Hill was just another girl who loved the outdoors. As reported by Star Central, she loved riding horses, doing gymnastics, and zipped down on her snowboard in the Rockies, as she grew up in Colorado.
Much like other models on this list, she stood out in school and was bullied for being so tall - 5'9" to be exact. She never thought she was pretty, and it's because of her shy and reserved nature that she was teased relentlessly by her classmates. In fact, the above photo was posted to her ex-high school sweetie's Twitter page in which he now admits regretting breaking up with her, as reported by Daily Mail.
4 Joan Smalls, A Tomboy At Heart
Hailing from a small coastal town in Puerto Rico, Joan Smalls had an outdoorsy upbringing, one that she spent running around carefree. She once showed Elle magazine a photo of herself outside and said, "That's back home, but it doesn't look anything like that anymore. You see that tall, tall tree? It's an 80-year-old tamarind tree. And I'm probably barefoot, as well. I was just running around. I would always be outside, I had scrapes on my knees."
Her tomboy background led her to develop a thick skin too, as most of her friends were boys and she had to learn how to fight back when they'd throw around mean jokes at her.
3 Lily Aldridge, Who Dreamed Of Being A Soccer Star
Lily Aldridge, known by most as a Victoria's Secret Angel, had a different vision of her future-self growing up. As reported by People, she wanted to play soccer. “I always thought I was going to be a soccer player, get a scholarship to college and then join the U.S. women’s team. Mia Hamm was my role model. I still look up to her.”
She often mentions that her Victoria's Secret pals are the type she would have found on a professional sports team. “We’re all athletes, and the love I have for the other girls is so strong," she goes on to explain.
2 Naomi Campbell, Who Looks So Young And Innocent...
An iconic supermodel, we all know Naomi Campbell to be a feisty firecracker, always speaking her mind and letting her diva side take over. In fact, it's that strong-willed personality that her mother cites as being immensely helpful, and in an interview with Daily Mail, called her the most driven person she knows.
Not shy of hard work, Naomi was enrolled at the Barbara Speake stage school in London, and seven years later at the capital's Italia Conti Academy. By 16 she had her first modeling job. Her mother says she was never a pushy stage mom, as it was always Naomi who put her head down and forged her own, successful path.
1 Liu Wen, Who Comes From A Humble Background
Liu Wen, who was dubbed "China’s first bona fide supermodel" by The New York Times in 2012, had a very low-key upbringing. In an interview with W Magazine, she explained, "My parents are very humble people who have simple lives...they live in a pleasant little town in China. No one else in my family works in the fashion industry. I'm the only child." Liu says her parents have always supported her modeling, not because they want her to become a huge star, but because they understand that it is what makes her happy.