Victoria’s Secret Angel Shanina Shaik was runner up in the TV series Make Me A Supermodel in 2008 and has since been on catwalks for the likes of Chanel. The 23-year-old – now the face of Just Jeans – opened up to me about being bullied as a teenager and how modelling made her stronger.
You have such striking features, what is your heritage?
My mother is Lithuanian Australian and my father was born in Singapore but he is Pakistani / Saudi Arabian.
What was your first big break?
Definitely the Victoria’s Secret show. I was 20 years old and booked for my first Victoria’s Secret show. It has been always such a dream of mine and then I felt it was such an achievement to actually be there. It was such an exhilarating moment for me when it finally happened. It also opened a lot of doors to me within the high fashion world.
What’s a typical day for you?
There is no typical day for me but it might incorporate castings, a [photo] shoot or I’m always at the gym as well. I’m quite chilled on the weekends; I like to shop in SoHo, New York.
Do you enjoy living in New York?
I really enjoy living in New York but I don’t enjoy the weather so much! It has been really up and down over the past few months but, yes, I love the opportunities and I really have great friends over there. I’ve got a great team and a great agency.
When you were a little girl did you want to be a model?
Funnily enough, I did. When I was little I always wanted to be a model. I actually started modelling when I was about eight years old and then, when I went to high school, I stopped to concentrate on schoolwork because I was in an accelerated program, so it was just really time for me to sit down and focus on my studies. And then I got back into modelling when I was 16. So it has always been part of my life. I just really enjoy it. I’ve learnt a lot from it and it has definitely made me a lot more confident person.
In what way has it made you more confident?
Just in being so young and working, and also working around a lot of adults. It’s a 24/7 job. It’s made me a stronger and more confident person because it’s also a very competitive industry, so you have to be very determined on what you want, and focus on what you want, because it can get very tough at times – especially with travelling by yourself as well, it can be a bit lonely. So it has definitely made me a stronger and confident person.
In what way is it a lonely lifestyle?
It can be really lonely because you are constantly travelling. It gets lonely especially when you go such beautiful places and see these amazing countries and just seeing gorgeous scenery and you would want to enjoy it with somebody.
If you hadn’t gone down the path of modelling, what would you have done?
If I wasn’t doing modelling, I think I would have studied child psychology. This interested me, as I was actually bullied in high school.
You were bullied at school?
Yes, I was bullied at school. It was a really hard time for me and I lost a lot of self-esteem. In year eight it got so bad that I just stopped going to school. My mum would go to work in the morning and I would just decide to stay home, because I think I just felt defeated. You get to that point where your self-esteem goes away that you just don’t want to do it anymore, and that’s what I experienced.
How did you get through it?
I ended up telling my mum what I as going through. I had to make new friends and over time I got stronger and I felt a lot better. Now I like to raise awareness and give knowledge to other children and young adults and let them know that they can do something about these issues if it’s happening to them.
As a Victoria’s Secret Angel, it’s hard to believe you would be a target. Why do you think you were bullied?
I think a lot of people actually stereotype you and think that if you’re beautiful or good looking that you won’t be bullied or deal with these issues, but that’s actually not the case. I think it’s the people that are unique and different [who get bullied]. For example, if you have a really different look or you’re really tall or have a shy personality and keep to yourself – anything that makes you a bit different makes you a target. At that time I was really young, I didn’t even understand why I was being picked on or being bullied.
What would you say to those girls now if you saw them?
I don’t really have anything to say to them. I’m actually just happy with what I’m doing and I’m focused on my work. It was so many years ago, so there’s nothing that I would say because I’m just happy being I. I’m actually happy that this has happened to me because now I can pass on my knowledge and raise awareness to help other people who are dealing with these things.
WE WENT TO Kepos Street Kitchen, Redfern.
WE ATE steak sandwich, caramelized onion jam, wilted spinach, aioli and roasted tomatoes; Pan roasted king prawns, chermoula, oven dried tomatoes and basil.
WE DRANK Pear and elderflower spritzer mocktail.
SHANINA WORE a Dion Lee dress.
I WORE a Camilla and Marc dress.
Shop the latest Summer Sandals HERE.
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See my ‘date’ with Ita Buttrose HERE.
See my ‘date’ with Sophie Lowe HERE.