I was teased for my weight and felt awkward about my body – motherhood made see it’s ‘beauty’, model Candice Swanepoel.
VICTORIA’S Secret promoted a very specific type of ‘ideal body’ for years, leaving many women feeling they couldn’t live up to the standard.
But one of the lingerie brand’s most famous models admits she had similar insecurities to the rest of us – and struggled to love her body.
Candice Swanepoel, who hails from South Africa and lives in New York, starred in the world-famous catwalk show from 2007 to 2018.
Now a philanthropist and business owner, the 34-year-old model reveals she was actually teased for her body in school – but motherhood helped her feel “more beautiful”.
Speaking exclusively to The U.S. Sun, as a new ambassador for Anne Klein, she says: “In my teens I was extremely thin, and got teased for it, which is the case for many models.
“At that time it was the formula for finding new girls that were awkward in their teens but by the time they hit 20 had grown into their bodies, and had a few years of experience in the industry.
“Many people believe we have a certain confidence in our genetics but most of us still sometimes feel like that awkward teen.
“It’s a job at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I think of my body on that specific day, as long as my client is happy, I’m happy.
“I’m there to deliver and play a role and that’s also how I coped with shyness in the very beginning.”
Today, Candice is mother to sons Ariel, four, and Anaca, six, her children with fellow model and ex-fiance.
Asked whether she feels more or less confident modelling in a bikini since becoming a mom, Candice says: “Not really.
“I am normal so we all have good days and bad days, but my body has made two little miracles, carried me around the world and enabled me to experience life so intensely that I’m grateful.
“Instead of picking myself apart on bad angles or changes here and there, I prefer to remember how much my body has endured over the years and the gifts that are my children.”
In total, Candice walked in 11 VS shows, only missing the 2016 year because she was pregnant.
Months after giving birth, she was back posing in the 2017 show.
Likewise Miranda Kerr, Lily Aldridge, Adriana Lima, Heidi Klum, and Doutzen Kroes all returned to the catwalk after giving birth.
Of her return to the catwalk post-baby, Candice says: “It’s definitely a process, whether you’re a model or not.
“I think perhaps we are used to putting ourselves out there, no matter what the opinion of others is.
“Once you become a mother, your priorities completely change.
“I loved all the different phases of my body after birth and during my pregnancies. I think I felt more beautiful, actually.
“I was lucky to work with people I’d known since my twenties, so it was a safe space and I also became more selective with my time and energy.
“The hardest part for me was having to travel away from them (my children), so for a time I chose not to take jobs where I had to travel.”
These days, Candice‘s focus is on her swimwear brand Tropic of C.
She says: “After five years of the brand, I’ve learned a lot – I was not a businesswoman five years ago, but today I can tell you I am.”
Asked what are the biggest lessons she’s learned, Candice says: “Never compromise on your vision, there can be many distractions and difficulties but where there is a will there is a way.
“Never be bullied into anything – in the beginning I would sit in meetings and take advice from the wrong people because I felt insecure about my knowledge of business.
“But the only way to really learn is by doing and making those types of mistakes – there is no formula to success.
“I believe in my company and I am passionate about what I do, and that’s the most important ingredient.”
Candice says Tropic of C is a “pioneering company for swimwear in the sustainable space”.
“I’m proud of the community we have built, seeing and hearing great reviews is always gratifying.
“The amount of returning customers is always a good gauge on the quality of your products,” she says.
“The consumer is now more conscious. And hopefully my influence through my brand aided in that awareness.”
When she’s not running her business, Candice is passionate about philanthropic causes – particularly her work with Africa based Mothers2Mothers.
She says: “They raise funds for social support and medication for pregnant women with HIV, getting them the medication that stops the transfer of the virus from mother to child.
“They also train women who have been through the same situation to work as mentors, helping these women emotionally and how to deal with it socially.
“It really is a wonderful cause and became especially close to my heart after my own pregnancies.”
After many years in the public eye, Candice still very much has her youthful glow.
She says: “The secret is maintenance.
“Since I was a teen, in the years when all my peers would have been out all night partying, I already understood the importance of a good diet, a skin routine, a good amount of sleep.
“Unfortunately society doesn’t like to see models or actresses or musicians age, and I think this is something that is changing, not everything needs to be ‘fixed’.
“I find it beautiful to see a bit of life on someone’s face, in their expressions, laugh lines.. aging gracefully is the secret.”
Candice was recently announced as an ambassador for Anne Klein, which is celebrating 55 years in business.
She says: “Anne Klein has been a huge influence on women’s fashion since the 70’s.
“When I think of the brand, I think iconic, classic, and chic.
“Anne Klein the designer was a trailblazer in women’s fashion and as a businesswoman.
“So as a founder of my own brand, it is a huge inspiration to see what Anne Klein represents today.
“I’m just happy to work with likeminded companies whose values intertwine with my own.”
Into the mystical heart of tropic of C.
a deep dive into the emerald green of the Brazilian southeastern coast, where the mountains have a love affair with the sea.
an immersion of body and soul in the Atlantic rainforest.
a tropical delirium.
a possible dream.
a paradise where the mountains have a love affair with the sea.
the Brazilian southeastern coast is formed by the geographical domain of “mares de morros”, which means seas of hills. a place where exuberant nature enhances every detail in its purest extravagance.
in the middle of all this magic, we found the mystical heart of tropic of c.
a tropical delirium.
the dazzling encounter of the Atlantic blue and one of the longest coastlines on the planet was our inspiration to create the blue set. can you feel it?
Tropic of C > Collections > Ilhabela
Tropic of C > Mailing > Ilhabela
Tropic of C > Miscellaneous > Miscellaneous Ilhabela
Alongside the Netflix show’s dazzling line-up of hosts and contestants, what gets us really excited and inspired is the incredible guest judges and this season — the selection is particularly impressive. Kicking things off is Hailey Bieber, alongside the likes of Emma Chamberlain, Bella Hadid and Candice Swanepoel, plus fashion royalty Isabel Marant, Olivier Rousteing and the one and only Donatella Versace. Also acting as recurring judges are Jason Bolden and Gabriella Karefa-Johnson.
Screen Captures > Online Videos > Next in Fashion: Season 2 | Official Trailer | Netflix
Candids > 2023 > February 07 – Candice Swanepoel – keeps it casual in Versace and sweats as she touches down at Guarulhos airport in São Paulo, Brazil
Carolina Herrera presents the ‘Beauty in the Sunset‘ Campaign for the Spring/Summer 2023 Eyewear Collection: lensed by fashion photographer Dan Beleiu, the campaign captures supermodel Candice Swanepoel against a colorful tropical sunset.
With its natural setting of a tropical island, the new campaign epitomizes beauty in its purest form, presenting the eyewear in vivid summer light: the new sunglasses and prescription glasses stand out beautifully against the golden colors of sunsets and white sand beaches.
Its depth is defined and the deep blue of the sky with incredible color gradations highlight the refined beauty of the new collection of glasses, while the confidence of Candice Swanepoel underlines the elegance of the line.
The new collection of Carolina Herrera Glasses reflects the brand’s multifaceted femininity and cheerful aesthetic, perfectly balancing classic and contemporary elegance.
The most luxurious models are decorated with crystals, reminiscent of bright constellations, while other timeless models have a diagonal inlay in natural tortoiseshell or pearl shades with the monogram logo.
The easy-to-wear designs feature the iconic striped pattern, which is interpreted as a detail on the upper or profiles or as playful elements in two-tones, exuding a unique feel.
Advertisement & Campaigns > 2023 > Carolina Herrera
Anne Klein, which is celebrating 55 years in business, has tapped Candice Swanepoel, the South African model, entrepreneur and philanthropist, to appear in its spring campaign.
She will also serve as an impact partner, supporting a cause-related initiative that will be revealed in the first quarter.
Swanepoel, 34, is the founder and designer of a purpose-driven brand, Tropic of C, and actively supports women’s empowerment and philanthropic causes.
“As we enter this monumental year, we are thrilled to have Candice in our campaign series celebrating women who are positive changing the world through a balance of image and impact,” said Jameel Spencer, chief marketing officer for Anne Klein. “Anne Klein has a deep history of impacting the lives of women and that DNA remains true today. Equally, Candice has used her platform to deliver empowering messaging to women around the world and is the perfect partner to help us further our mission and impact women today.”
Anne Klein’s brand ambassadors have included model and frontline worker Maggie Rawlins; actor and humanitarian Ilfenesh Hadera; model and activist Joan Smalls, and actress and philanthropist Gina Rodriguez.
“I’m honored to have partnered with Anne Klein, a brand whose values align with my own,” Swanepoel said. “Anne Klein has a long and respected history within the fashion industry and I’m proud to support their mission of empowering and championing women.”
The Anne Klein campaign was photographed by Chris Colls at Pier 59 Studios in New York. Advertising will appear in the March issue of Harper’s Bazaar, as well as an extensive digital rollout.
In addition to celebrating its 55 years as a brand, Anne Klein is also recognizing its founding designer Anne Klein, who would have been 100 years old in August. In addition, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary Battle of Versailles which took place in November 1973, where Anne Klein participated for the American team, along with Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Halston and Bill Blass. They were pitted against the French contingent that consisted of Marc Bohan for Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro and elevated the prestige of the American labels.
The Victoria’s Secret supermodel and founder — and Costa Brazil’s most recent collaborator — Candice Swanepoel sounds off on what inspired her to create Tropic of C, her eco-minded swimwear line: “Nature, beauty and Brazil.” Sound familiar?
Not long after the birth of her first son, supermodel Candice Swanepoel took to social media to share her own thoughts around real beauty. “My account @angelcandice was made as part of one of my work contracts, so I felt a certain restriction to what I could and couldn’t share,” she says over zoom from her home in Miami.
Called @themermaidfiles, the secret page is filled with black and white photographs of mostly makeup-free women in simple two-pieces lounging on boats or in the sand, juxtaposed with snaps of tropical islands and pink flowers taken on someone’s iPhone. Besides a few familiar faces now and then—Gisele Bundchen, Claudia Schiffer, Emily Ratajkowski, Candice—the whole page feels incredibly down to earth.
That brand, called Tropic of C, is an eco-minded swimwear and lifestyle line that uses materials like regenerated nylon for their suits (many of which are made from compression fabrics that hold you in no matter how itsy bitsy the cut is, she says) and plastic alternatives for packaging. Still, despite all the team’s hard work to be environmentally responsible, sustainability wasn’t a big part of their messaging in the beginning. “I didn’t want to advertise it—I just wanted to sleep well at night,” she says. “When you’re a mother, you think so much about the future of the planet, and what kind of future our kids are going to have. I just needed to make it make sense.”
In addition to her family and nature, Candice counts Brazil as one of the biggest inspirations for Tropic of C. “That’s a topic I could talk about all day,” she says, recalling her first trip to the country. She was 17 and in love and well into her modeling career at the time. “I had a kind of anonymous freeing feeling in Brazil, and it became a way for me to balance work Candice and the real me,” she says, adding the close connection the country has to South Africa made her feel instantly right at home. “I was fascinated by the confidence of Brazilian people. The way they wore their clothes, their routines in public—people would take half of their bathrooms to the beach! There is this ease regarding feeling comfortable in your body. Brazil is where I learned how to be comfortable in mine.”
Read more from the mother, supermodel and founder, in celebration of our new collaboration, “Swim & Skin.” Ten percent of all sale proceeds will go to Conservation International, a nonprofit in support of the Amazon.
Let’s talk about your connection to Brazil. How has it inspired your work and approach to beauty?
Brazil is a topic I could talk about all day. At 17, it became my place of peace and discovery for many years. At the time, I was already dealing with the weight of my career and, having left South Africa at 15, I needed a place where I could feel normal and simply be young. I got this kind of anonymous freeing feeling when in I was there. At the same time, Brazil also feels closely connected to my African roots, so I automatically felt very at home.
Tell us about the early days of Tropic of C.
I had an account called @themermaidfiles that only a few fans and followers had access to. My account that was ‘angelcandice’ was made as part of one of my work contracts, so I felt a certain restriction to what I could share. From there I started dreaming of being able to share exactly what I thought was beautiful and that’s how the idea to have my own brand came along.
When did you decide to make it sustainable?
I remember it so clearly: I was at the table being shown many plastic bags and labels to see how I wanted Tropic of C to look and that’s when I said I wanted the team to research alternatives for the packaging. I wanted to create a brand I could be proud of and that wasn’t harming the very thing that inspired me most, which is nature.
Tropic of C was one of the first if not the first swimwear brand to be focused on sustainability, as swimwear is made from nylon, it was my mission to use materials that were already existing as well as partner with companies that use fishing nets and other waste from the ocean. That said, I didn’t want sustainability to be the tagline—I just wanted to sleep well at night.
“When you’re a mother, you think so much about the future of the planet, and what kind of future our kids are going to have. I just needed to make [Tropic of C] make sense.”
The name, Tropic of C, does the C stand for Candice?
It’s meant to stand for Tropic of Capricorn, which is the southernmost latitude where the sun hits directly overhead. It’s where the summer begins, and never ends. A mystical place where it’s always warm, and you’re always in a bikini. That said, my team does call me C….
So, it’s both?
They also call me “Clark Kent” because I’m able to switch the model part on and off while working. One moment I’m directing the vision I have in mind for Tropic of C, and the next I’m in a bikini doing what I do in front of the camera with the odd breastfeed or meeting in the middle. It sounds a bit crazy—and it definitely is—but I enjoy the diversity of it all.
So, what do you find to be beautiful, or rather, sexy?
Brazil is such a sexy place, and in my career, I’ve played with what is sexy and what is not. To me, the balance of elegant and sexy is what’s most beautiful to me. Coverage, but with the slightest high cut or small straps, gives feminine sexiness to me.
Sliding into a supermodel’s DMs is often unsuccessful—a fact Candice Swanepoel is quick to acknowledge—but when Francisco Costa popped up in her inbox, she felt compelled to respond. A self-professed fangirl of the Brazilian designer’s work, first as the women’s creative director of Calvin Klein and now as the founder of sustainable beauty line Costa Brazil, she admits that his 2000s-era looks were prominently featured in the debut brand brand book for her eco-conscious swimwear label, Tropic of C. “Minimalist perfection,” she says of Costa’s sleek and thoughtfully considered pieces.
It makes sense, then, that the two would team up for a collaboration that both honors and directly benefits the environment, specifically Conservation International (a.k.a. CI). Costa announced the forthcoming limited-edition bathing suit, co-designed by himself and Swanepoel, to an intimate group at Soho Beach House in Miami on Saturday night, at a dinner toasting CI’s efforts to protect and restore ecosystems at a global scale. Lais Ribeiro, Isabela Grutman, and Ana Khouri, dressed in breezy separates and skin-baring tops fit for the warm weather, were in attendance to celebrate. (All proceeds from the collection will directly benefit CI.)
“It’s been lovely to see how generous she [Swanepoel] is, and how somebody of her stature and voice can make a difference,” said Costa to the crowd, before thanking CI and ELLE for their continued support and co-hosting the event. As models mingled with each other and enjoyed the family-style dinner of burrata, grilled sea bass and broccolini, and skirt steak, rain clouds formed overhead; fortunately, a light drizzle didn’t stop anyone from relishing in the tropical climate. “We are here for the environment,” quipped my seatmate, pointing toward the full table of guests, who laughed and posed as Polaroid cameras authentically captured the casual, slightly wet, vibe.
Public Appearances > 2022 > November 19 – Candice Swanepoel attends a private dinner to present Tropic of C x Costa Brazil partnership
Candice Swanepoel attended the GQ Men Of The Year Awards in London with fellow models Jordan Barrett and Stella Maxwell.
Check out more photos in our gallery.