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Fitness Model And Bikini Competitor Grace De La Rosa Talks To Muscle & Strength

I was not an athletic child, but at the age of 18, when I saw a magazine photo of Rachel McLish as the first Miss Olympia, I knew this was a sport for me. I wanted to sculpt my straight and skinny body with healthy curves and definition. I learned all I could about proper weightlifting techniques and nutrition. Eventually, I became an AFAA-certified group exercise instructor before I decided to compete in the NPC Bikini division. There is nothing about bodybuilding that I do not enjoy.

Grace De La RosaI love how I feel productive after every workout. The only thing I do not like is the post-competition blues. It’s hard to get back into the swing of everyday life without the regimented pre-contest training and dieting schedule. And getting back to a “normal” weight is depressing, knowing how good I can look. Is it vain to think this way? Sure, but it’s merely part of this lifestyle—always striving for better than average.

What were the major milestones that gave you that “extra” motivation boost?

I was diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer in 2005, ironic because I had always eaten well, worked out on a regular basis and never had a weight issue. I have no family history of any type of cancer. By the end of my 12th and final chemo treatment in 2006, I gained over 50 pounds due to the steroids in my chemo and lack of activity (and energy!).

I lost most of the excess weight over a three-year period and decided to train for a figure show to keep me on track. I was ecstatic to hit the stage on April 2010 with my best physical shape since my cancer diagnosis. I then hit my peak in November of that year at an NPC bikini show. Two weeks later, I won 5th place at my final bikini show of the year.

What keeps you motivated?

Memories of my chemo days, when I was hooked up to my chemo pump and stuck in bed because I didn’t have the energy to do anything but look outside my bedroom window and watch my kids play. A side effect of the chemo that I experience to this day is peripheral neuropathy – I don’t have much feeling in my toes, feet and fingers. I tend to trip while walking and fall when running. My chemo memories remind me of how lucky I am to be alive and in good health; to work around what I cannot do and take full advantage of what I am able to do TODAY!

What are your future goals, dreams and plans?

I hope to always be involved in the fitness industry in one capacity or another, not necessarily as a competitor, but maybe as a TV/Internet host, reporter or even a judge. Otherwise, I plan to fulfill my dreams of traveling the Greek Islands and Italy with my husband within the next year or two. I’m learning Italian as we speak!

Tyra Banks’s Open Letter to Models:

To models around the world, I want to celebrate Vogue’s recent groundbreaking announcement. The editors of Vogue’s 19 international editions have pledged to ban models from their pages who “appear to have an eating disorder,” to create healthy backstage working conditions, as well as several other revolutionary initiatives. This calls for a toast over some barbecue and burgers!

When I started modeling, I used to see models who seemed unhealthy backstage at fashion shows. They appeared to be abusing their bodies to maintain a certain weight. These girls were booked over and over again for countless fashion shows and photo shoots. I’m sure many of you today have witnessed this, or even live it. Now, real progress is finally on the horizon. Vogue is stepping up, doing the right thing, and protecting that girl. Perhaps that girl is you!

People get upset with you if you’re a very thin model. What many don’t know is that a certain sample size has been set by the industry, and you’re doing everything in your power to keep working. At times, I feel there’s an unspoken rule that says, “there’s no such thing as being too thin, as long as you don’t pass out.”

In my early 20s I was a size four. But then I started to get curvy. My agency gave my mom a list of designers that didn’t want to book me in their fashion shows anymore. In order to continue working, I would’ve had to fight Mother Nature and get used to depriving myself of nutrition. As my mom wiped the tears from my face, she said, “Tyra, you know what we’re going to do about this? We’re going to go eat pizza.” We sat in a tiny pizzeria in Milan and strategized about how to turn my curves into a curveball. In a way, it was my decision not to starve myself that turned me into a supermodel, and later on, a businesswoman.

On America’s Next Top Model, I mentor girls on television. When that TV goes off, I actually mentor other girls in the modeling industry—girls that have not been on Top Model, but who appear in Vogue worldwide. On late night calls, I console them as they confide in me about their bodies maturing, and not being able to fit into sample sizes anymore. Now I know you all will still call me for advice, but I don’t think there will be as much of: “I’m hungry, Tyra, and I’m tired. But I still want to do runway and high-fashion work. I want to stay on top.” With Vogue’s new mandates, things, I hope, will now change for the better.

 

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The World’s Highest Paid Models

Just how rare is a supermodel?

To hear Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of Limited Brands, describe it, discovering a true supermodel, with all of the requisite gifts, is a daunting task.

“In the entire history of the Victoria‘s Secret Fashion Show, 140 separate women have walked that runway,” Razek says. “There are seven billion people on the planet. That makes each of them not one in a million, not one in five million, not one in ten million. That literally makes them one in 50 million humans.”

Highest Paid Models
1 of 20
Getty ImagesNo. 1 – Gisele Bündchen
No. 1 – Gisele Bündchen
$45 million
Earnings from May 2011-May 2012
Agency: IMG Models

And that’s all the women who have participated in the show over the last 15 years. The elite list of models Forbes has compiled is even more rarefied company — and they’re paid handsomely for their talents. Over the last 12 months, the combined earnings of the top ten highest-paid models, from Gisele Bündchen to Candice Swanepoel, totals just under $100 million.

See the full gallery of the top ten highest-paid models here.

Just like last year, the Brazilian bombshell Bündchen leads the pack with a stunning $45 million in earnings (all estimates from May 1st, 2011 to May 1st, 2012). Even in her early thirties, Bündchen remains an unparalleled force within the fashion world. As the world’s most powerful supermodel, she racks up modeling gigs, spokesperson deals, and independent licensing ventures at every turn. The veritable endorsement queen shills for brands such as Pantene, Esprit, and Versace, and makes a percentage of profits on Ipanema flip-flops and other products bearing her name. While in the United States many know her as the wife of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Bündchen’s effect as a spokesperson, especially in her native Brazil, can make a huge difference.
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Bündchen’s success combining business with modeling is influencing young, ascendant models. “The ones that are coming up, their model for excellence is Gisele. They’re looking at her and saying ‘that’s what I want to shoot for,’” Razek said.

Coming up a distant second in the rankings is British supermodel Kate Moss, with earnings of $9.2 million. Moss is known for her party-hard ways, but she remains one of fashion’s biggest icons, with big endorsement deals with Longchamp, Mango, Rimmel, and Vogue Eyewear. She also has a lucrative design deal with TopShop going back to 2007.

Natalia Vodianova, a Russian model whose name may be less familiar, was third with $8.6 million. Fragrance campaigns with Guerlain and Calvin Klein Euphoria have boosted Vodianova’s earnings into the highest echelons of modeling. The 30-year-old, who now lives in the UK, also designs lingerie collections for Etam and shoes for Centro.

“There was a time where the odd beauty was in style, and that created a backlash for a time when advertisers couldn’t use those girls,” said David Bonnouvrier, chairman of DNA Models, which represents Vodianova, along with fellow top models Doutzen Kroes (#5) and Alessandra Ambrosio (#6). “The top girls now represent a return to a true representation of beauty, not the odd beauty or a fashion-diverted version of beauty.”

Adriana Lima, who’s primarily known as a Victoria’s Secret Angel, registered $7.3 million in an exciting year. In addition to announcing that she’s expecting her second child, Lima made a big splash in early 2012 when she appeared in two attention-grabbing Super Bowl commercials, one for Kia and another, more seductive spot for Teleflora. Crossing over from the fashion world to a more mainstream audience, she now has more Facebook followers than any other model, and grabbed the final spot on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list.

“Adriana’s a very modern, diverse beauty,” said her agent, Chris Gay, president of Marilyn New York. “She’s an ethnic mix of a girl, where quite frankly because she has such a multi-racial, multi-cultural background, everybody is accepting of her. That has always been her huge benefit.”

If you’ve followed our annual ranking in past years, you might wonder what happened to German supermodel Heidi Klum. Last year she ranked number two overall, after Bündchen, and her $20 million in earnings this year would have placed her comfortably into the same spot this time. However, Forbes determined that, like Tyra Banks before her, Klum has graduated from model to mogul. Since ending her 13-year run as a Victoria’s Secret Angel in 2010, Klum has become more of a businesswoman and multi-media personality.

Klum still endorses products, like Coca-Cola in Germany, but a large portion of her earnings comes from hosting popular television shows like Project Runway and Germany’s Next Top Model. She’s also partnered with companies to start her own business ventures. Klum has worked with New Balance and Amazon to create her own clothing brand and launched a jewelry line on QVC in September 2011. She even has her own micro-site within AOL for advice on everything from fashion to parenting.

Looking ahead, it’s tough to see anyone who might be able to dethrone Bündchen in the near future, given her sizable earnings lead. But there are young models coming up who may eventually challenge for the top spots. Candice Swanepoel, while only ranked 10th, is the youngest supermodel on the list. The 23-year-old South African has become a staple in Victoria’s Secret advertising. Same with Erin Heatherton, another 23-year-old who just missed the list.

Or perhaps it will be someone like Kate Upton, the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover model. Until now, Upton has found more mainstream fame, especially online, than traditional modeling opportunities. But the 20-year-old has plenty of time to capitalize in that direction.