In six short years, Melbourne-born model Shanina Shaik has gone from shy, depressed subject of high-school bullying to reality TV show reject, to Victoria's Secret angel.
The former Make Me A Supermodel runner-up has not had a typical journey to nabbing one of the most coveted modelling jobs in the world.
"I was about 14 years old and I was dealing with these girls who I thought were my friends. I was in the accelerated program at school and also modelling in between that. It was emotional bullying, which was hard for me to understand at that age because I thought bullying was a physical act, like being taunted and beaten up." says Shaik from her home in New York.
"It was really hard. I lost a lot of my self-esteem, so much that I even stopped going to school."
After school and appearing in the 2008 model-search TV series, Shaik relocated to New York to pursue a career in high fashion.
Following a few seasons in New York, the leggy brunette was in Europe walking in shows for Chanel, Stella McCartney, Tom Ford and L'Wren Scott. She got her wings - her oversized, crystal-encrusted Victoria's Secret wings - in 2011 and has since been described by industry insiders as the next Adriana Lima.
However, unlike Lima and her extreme "no solids for nine days before a show" diet, Shaik has a more holistic approach to life and her catwalk craft.
"It's televised to millions of people all over the world, so you want to be fit, ready and in a great mindset," she says. "I find when I eat healthy and work out I'm a lot more happy, energised and have a better aura. I work out every minute I can, but I'm lucky because I don't have a nine-to-five job, so I can do that."
Before Australia's Lima 2.0 heads to Sydney next week to grace the catwalks of Fashion Week Australia, on Sunday she will make a stop in Perth to check out the chukkas of the fifth annual Polo in the Valley with singer Samantha Jade.
The event raises funds for youth suicide prevention charity Youth Focus. Shaik will champion the services it provides; services she wishes she knew were available during her formative years.
"I know for me not having a lot of knowledge and not knowing what bullying was, how to deal with it and overcome it, I felt really embarrassed and alone at the time," she says. "No one should ever feel like that."
HERE'S SHANINA BACK IN 2008 IN HER MAKE ME A SUPERMODEL DAYS ...
- Sydney Morning Herald
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