Natalia Vodianova's refreshingly honest take on modeling: 'It's really quite strange'

Elena Sheppard
Wellness Editor

Even if you don’t know Natalia Vodianova’s name, you likely recognize her face. The Russian supermodel has been walking runways and starring on magazine covers for more than 15 years — and her star shows no signs of fading.

On Thursday, the 35-year-old mother of five stopped by BUILD for a frank conversation about women’s health and the period tracking app Flo, on whose board of directors Vodianova serves. When the conversation turned to self-care, the busy model, dedicated philanthropist, and devoted mom joked about how little time she has in a day.

“I do have time to shave my legs but that’s probably as far as it goes,” she said, laughing.

Natalia Vodianova visits Build Studio to discuss The Flo App at Build Studio in New York City. (Photo: Mike Pont/WireImage)

But then Vodianova got real about the amount of privilege she enjoys by virtue of being a model. She emphasized the fact that the rituals that many people think of as self-care and luxury are given to her as part of her profession.


“By default, being a model, I’m spoiled,” she said very matter-of-factly. “When I come on a shoot, I’m a princess; I’m in the middle of all this chaos going around me. [Everyone] making sure I’m fine. You know it’s really quite strange when everyone comes and asks, ‘Would you like some water? Can I get you anything?’ And then of course the most amazing hairdressers do your hair, and the makeup, and you wear these princess dresses. It’s a great break from reality for me.”


This incredibly humble perspective is largely thanks to the very different spheres in which Vodianova’s life has taken place. Yes, she now walks red carpets and stars in Calvin Klein campaigns, but that was not always the case. Vodianova grew up in a small Russian town, helping her mother sell fruit to make ends meet.

She also has an autistic sister she cared for while growing up, and it’s clear that Vodianova doesn’t take her “princess” life now for granted. “I’m very privileged to be a model,” she said. “I’m incredibly privileged to be able to afford not to worry about my life so I can dedicate my life to making changes in my own country.”


“I’ve experienced that absolute hopeless existence when you just don’t know when this reality will change for you,” she said about her past. “For me, it happened very unexpectedly. I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t become a model, to my family.”

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