We've all heard the story a million times: As a teenager, [insert gorgeous supermodel's name here] was actually an ugly duckling gangly, awkward, shy, constantly teased by her classmates. Cue the tiny violins. Now, she's making millions every year and is married to a handsome sports star/actor/businessman. We really feel for her.
But when 29-year-old Karolina Kurkova talks about her experiences growing up in a small town in the Czech Republic, she makes it hard not to sympathize. Or empathize, even. After all, don't most women feel self-conscious and unattractive at some point during adolescence? "I was taller than the boys," the 5'11" blonde says. "I wore pants because I didn't want to look at my legs. I drew a lot of attention, but not in a good way, and I had these big teeth, so I never smiled. I was uncomfortable with my body." After a bit of local modeling work, a 17-year-old Kurkova was soon opening the Prada show and being shot by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia. "He said to me, 'Smile! You have a beautiful one.'" she remembers. "That was life-changing."
Top, $1,300, pants, $4,600, Balmain; cuff, $995, Georg Jensen.