models who have given birth

Gisele and Beyoncé Have Something in Common

Gisele’s perfection is inexplicably fascinating. No matter what she’s doing — giving birth in a bathtub, exercising, breast-feeding, living in Boston — she makes it glam and graceful. She appears on the cover of Vogue’s annual “shape” issue, presumably because her shape, now that she’s had a baby, is worthy of fascination, praise, and feature-article space. And of course she and her perfect life are! When Vogue’s Joan Juliet Buck arrived at Gisele and Tom Brady’s Boston penthouse for an interview, Gisele was sitting on the couch — breast-feeding. How’s that for Vogue access? Gisele’s twin sister, who Vogue notes is “shorter” (but of course), let Buck in. She also prevented her from getting attacked by Lua, Gisele’s sometimes mean dog.

The baby is called Benjamin Rein: “I wanted him to be called River because I wanted something always flowing, immortal. My husband said, ‘There’s no way we’re going to call him River.’ But my father’s name is Reinoldo, so it’s a homage to him. And it’s like water.”

Benjamin was born at home, in warm water in a deep bathtub that overlooks the Charles River. “I wanted to experience the transformation,” says Gisele. A midwife friend of hers came in from Brazil as did her mother; her husband was there too. Gisele meditated through the birth. “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!”

She was up the next day, cooking and wandering around the vast apartment where her mother is staying in the guest room to help out —“I don’t trust anyone else with Benjamin.” She’s regained her figure, apparently instantly and with no more exercise than some yoga on a mat in the living room. “I think it’s muscle memory,” she says. Gisele has always been in shape: Born one of six girls in the German-speaking hamlet of Horizontina in southern Brazil, she spent her childhood outdoors, “like a little monkey, jumping from tree to tree in bare feet.” An athlete, she was captain of her volleyball team and hasn’t stopped. “I did kung fu up until two weeks before Benjamin was born, and yoga three days a week. I think a lot of people get pregnant and decide they can turn into garbage disposals. I was mindful about what I ate, and I gained only 30 pounds.”

But perhaps the most revelatory takeaway from this piece is that Gisele is remarkably like Beyoncé. Each is heavily involved in charity projects, married to the man of her dreams, gorgeous, and generally perfect. However, like Beyoncé, Gisele has relied on an alter ego:

She consciously created the Gisele persona as she started to become a star herself. “I was in the fashion shows in Milan, I was seventeen, I was doing like 100 shows. People were asking, ‘How does it feel to be the model of the moment?’ It was hard for me to answer as myself. I barely spoke English. I thought, I have to give my best because they trust me with that. I invented this other person, and she could do everything. She wasn’t afraid; she was able to be ballsy and risky and sexy or androgynous. She was bold. I had to believe in myself as this person that was strong, up-front, invincible, and positive, who knew what she was doing, even though I really didn’t.

Just like Beyoncé killed Sasha Fierce, Gisele has killed her alter ego! When she went for her first shoot after giving birth, she said she hadn’t looked in a mirror in six weeks, having been holed up with her husband, kid, and dogs. The button that usually goes “on” when she’s on set never went off.

“…Makeup was done, hair was done, and I looked in the mirror and I still wasn’t seeing the person who’s a model.”

“Who was the woman you saw in the mirror?” I ask.

“For the first time, I think I actually saw me — the inside — instead of the persona … I’ve worked for fourteen years, but I don’t think anybody in the business really knows me, because there is that other person.”

So instead of the perfect sexy model, she’s the perfect sexy mom with a shorter twin sister, who puts on no weight when she has a baby and is married to a star athlete who drives Vogue writers home in the rain. And more important, said star athlete doesn’t let her name their baby after weather phenomena. Yet Gisele is the woman who is able to somewhat justify even that.

Earth Mother [Vogue]

Gisele and Beyoncé Have Something in Common