Isabeli Fontana used to be so shy people believed she was "a mute."
The model, who was the youngest-ever Victoria’s Secret star at age 16, has been in therapy since she was 12 for her inhibited nature.
Isabeli, 28, feels more comfortable in her skin having walked the catwalk for Dolce & Gabbana and been the face for Viktor & Rolf perfume.
“I was so shy, everyone thought I was a mute,” she told the April edition of UK magazine Elle.
“I’m enjoying everything more now. I’m letting myself have fun. I’m more mature, more comfortable with myself and I think it make a big difference.”
While the glamorous brunette is enjoying her modelling career today, she only got into the business to make money for her family. She never dreamt of one day taking the fashion world by storm.
“I never wanted to be a model,” she said.
“I was a real tomboy, so it was never about me wanting to be beautiful and have my picture taken. I just had a dream to help my family because I saw how hard they worked for money.”
Isabeli adds that modelling has not been easy. In fact it was particularly hard when she fell pregnant with her first child Zion at the age of 19.
“I had to restart from zero,” she said.
The model went back to school to complete her high school diploma in 2006 while pregnant with her second son Lucas. Isabeli, who has tattoos of two hearts for each of her children, says it was the only thing that kept her sane during her break from the catwalk.
“Otherwise I would have got depressed,” she said of her decision to go back to school.
“I was going crazy, working out every day. I had a big stomach but with big muscles. I had a great body. I had so much time. What else was I going to do?”
However, taking a year’s hiatus did nothing to stop her growing career. She came in at number 11 on the Forbes list of the worlds’ top-earning models in 2008 with $2 million in earnings.
She now spends her money on buying property. “I never spend like crazy,” she said, “because I don’t know if I will be working tomorrow. So I invest in things like property. It’s something concrete. It’s my kids’ future.”