What goes into being professionally beautiful? Probably more hard work than you realize. Beauty queens do indeed look effortless as they strut across the age in glamorous outfits, but only years of sweat and sacrifice make that possible. A few contestants have it even harder.
Almost no one ever expected this model to make it to the big time. But as she became more and more successful, she both inspired and enraged onlookers. The one thing everybody could agree on? Nobody had ever before attempted what she was trying to accomplish.
Angela Ponce tended to make quite the impression everywhere she went. That was pretty typical of a professional model and beauty queen, after all. Despite her many admirers, however, Angela frequently had to deal with blind outrage.
Angela faced an uphill climb ever since her childhood. Born in Seville, Spain, in 1991, she had to put up with constant bullying and harassment. Many in her community couldn’t process the fact that she was different.
For them, the issue was that Angela was assigned male at birth but always identified as a girl. Her family always accepted that reality, but other students at Angela’s school were less than tolerant.
YouTube / Miss Universe
As she progressed with her transition through her teens, Angela felt increasingly isolated. She promised herself that once she got older, she would stand up for transgender kids. All Angela needed was a platform.
YouTube / Miss Universe
That opportunity arrived right on her 18th birthday. Taking note of Angela’s good looks and remarkable life story, a modeling agency signed her to a contract. All of a sudden, the girl who wanted to hide from the world was posing on billboards.
YouTube / Miss Universe
Between modeling gigs, Angela dipped her toes into the competitive beauty circuit. She couldn’t believe how quickly she progressed. In 2015, this relative newcomer shocked Spain by winning the regional Miss World Cadiz title — a huge stepping stone.
The victory made Angela eligible for the 2015 Miss Spain crown. By this point, transgender beauty queens were making huge strides. Across the pond, Jenna Talackova won the distinction as the first transgender contestant in a Miss Universe Canada competition.
Sadly, Angela wasn’t destined to be as lucky. While Miss Universe opened the door to transgender entrants back in 2012, the Miss World Spain organization wasn’t held to such standards. It was only a matter of time before they learned her full story.
YouTube / Miss Universe
Once they heard she was transgender, Angela got the axe. The pageant board disqualified her from the national competition for, in their eyes, not being “naturally born” a woman. As much as she protested, the model was unable to change their minds.
That decision crushed Angela, though she knew that giving up wasn’t an option. There was too much at stake. She doubled down on her workload, chasing down more ad campaigns and entering in more competitions.
It took years, but Angela eventually found her shot at redemption. Leaving behind the prehistorically minded Miss World organization, she gained an invitation to the 2018 Miss Universe Spain content. This was her biggest stage yet.
Not even Angela could have predicted that she would go home with the Miss Spain title that year. It was huge, as it made her an instant star in her home country. In addition, the win gave her a chance to speak to the entire world.
That’s because she automatically became part of the field in the Miss Universe international competition. This mammoth event had never featured a transgender woman before, so all eyes were on Angela. Of course, not everyone was happy about it.
YouTube / Miss Universe
Some pageant fans bristled at the prospect, and a few bigots threatened the event. What encouraged Angela, however, was seeing the legions of LBGT advocates flock to her. As they celebrated her success, she understood she wasn’t alone in this battle.
Human Rights Watch
Naturally, Angela planned on making more than just an appearance at the competition. She wanted that crown. Drawing upon her years of training, she glided through each Miss Universe event. The impressed audience wondered if they were about to witness history.
Despite a strong showing, Angela fell short of the top spot that year. Miss Philippines came away victorious, but Angela still looked at that pageant as the most rewarding experience of her young life.
Twitter / El Nuevo Diario
On one level, she made the pageant industry more accessible to transgender people. “I changed the rules,” Angela realized. But on a larger scale, she increased her community’s visibility by leaps and bounds.
YouTube / Miss Universe
She directed her new fans to the Daniela Foundation, a nonprofit she worked with to provide assistance to struggling trans kids. With this new influx of support, Angela and her colleagues hoped to stem the tide of bullying.
On a more fundamental level, Angela challenged popular conceptions about what transgender people could be. She knew she couldn’t achieve equality all by herself, but fortunately, Angela didn’t have to. Even in the cutthroat fashion world, she had allies.
YouTube / Miss Universe
Trendy lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret has been in the booming bloomers business since 1977. The company began when businessman Roy Raymond wished to purchase sexy lingerie for his wife without seeming… perverted. He aimed to create a space where people would feel excited and comfortable buying intimate apparel.
“Raymond imagined a Victorian boudoir, replete with dark wood, oriental rugs, and silk drapery,” Naomi Barr reported of Raymond’s vision. “He chose the name ‘Victoria’ to evoke the propriety and respectability associated with the Victorian era; outwardly refined, Victoria’s ‘secrets’ were hidden beneath.”
While Victoria’s Secret itself began in the late ’70s, the legacy of the company’s clan of impossibly stunning runway and print models specifically labeled the VS Angels began in the late ’90s.
The highly regarded Angel status came about when models Helena Christensen, Karen Mulder, Daniela Peštová, Stephanie Seymour, and Tyra Banks (who became the most popular) modeled in a 1997 VS commercial that highlighted the brand’s new line. Needless to say, the label stuck like heavenly glue.
Though today there are contractual differences between VS Angels versus plain ol’ VS models, the celestial trademark is often synonymous to all its models; fair, considering all of the girls have been donning those enormous, feathery wings in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show since 1998.
There have been a profusion of changes to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show since its simplistic first go at New York’s famous Plaza Hotel in 1995.
From a dimly-lit, bland stage and classic beige, satin bra and panty sets scanning the runway, to soaring models, extravagant costumes, theatrical spotlights, and the likes of huge performers such as Lady Gaga, the iconic show is about more than mere underwear.
The glorified Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been televised since 2001, where it premiered on ABC. Over the last few years, however, ratings have been plummeting. In 2017 CBS’ “annual airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer actually bested Victoria’s Secret,” THR laughably pointed out. But why?
Since times are a changin’, the public has been aggressively outspoken about Victoria’s Secret’s lack of diversity. Not long ago, VS did make a bit of an improvement. It was quite harmonious to see women of many different colors strutting the catwalk.
In 2015, the stunning Angolan model Maria Borges was the first woman of color to rock natural hair on the VS Fashion Show runway. Though all of this is progressive and beautiful, there were still underlying issues that plagued the future of the brand as a whole.
Criticism still weighed heavily on the lingerie chain as people begged to see models of different sizes and identities, specifically transgender models. Self-deprecating jokes flood the internet upon the annual broadcast network airing of the VS Fashion show, as it’s been pointed out that VS flaunts unrealistic body standards for women.
But it was the 2018 Vogue interview with Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek that really brought the public fury to a head. When questioned about Victoria’s Secret’s refusal to cast plus-size and transgender models, his response got blood boiling across the globe.
When Vogue asked him why the VS bra size range ends at 40DDD, his answer was very telling. “It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy,” Razek told Vogue.
While Razek said “we market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world,” the wild idea that plus-size and transgender women couldn’t make up a segment of the “fantasy” broke the internet so to speak. They wear panties, too!
Following Razek’s November of 2018 comments, Victoria’s Secret planned to close more than 50 of its brick and mortar stores in 2019 subsequent to a “decline in performance.” From there, things for the brand got even worse.
After a slew of boycotts (made viral by model Robyn Lawley), which have proven VS’ lack of relevance in modern society, it wasn’t looking good for the bombshell retailers. In a climate that fabulously puts plus-size model Ashley Graham and trans model Hari Nef at the forefront of fashion and pop culture, VS needed a reality check.
With a whirlwind of a year or so under its belt, VS decided against broadcasting a 2019 fashion show according to a leaked memo. While it may seem that the company is in deep water, there’s always room for change, right?
“Fashion is a business of change. We must evolve and change to grow. With that in mind, we have decided to re-think the traditional Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” said CEO of L Brands Les Wexner. Change may be the only thing that’ll keep Victoria’s Secret afloat.
Well, in August of 2019, news broke that VS made history by hiring its first transgender model, 22-year-old Valentina Sampaio. Coincidentally, the controversial CMO of parent company L Brands, Ed Razek, announced his retirement during the same month.
The Brazilian beauty hinted at the revelation on her Instagram account, while her agent confirmed to CNN that she was booked for a future company campaign. Current VS Angel Lais Ribiero even gleefully tweeted at Sampaio, congratulating her for the revolutionary accomplishment.
While the future of Victoria’s Secret is fuzzy, its rebranding plans and progressive decision to hire trans supermodel Valentina Sampaio is a wonderful start. Whether you believe in second chances or not, VS may just change your previously set devoted promise to go commando.
Though Victoria’s Secret has been at the center of attention for all the wrong reasons in recent years, the company has a rich history of casting models who are now considered some of the world’s most recognizable. And there may not be any VS face more popular than German model Heidi Klum.
Klum’s big break into modeling came in 1999 when she was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She became the first German model to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel, and she caught the eye of a wealthy Italian named Flavio Briatore in the process.
Although Klum had a child with Briatore, she soon found herself in a serious relationship with Seal, the Grammy Award-winning musician who had several super popular hit songs to his name.
One of his most popular tracks, “Kiss from a Rose, was actually used on the soundtrack for the film Batman Forever. The music video featured characters from the movie, and it was way more popular than the actual film.
Needless to say, Seal and Klum found themselves head over heels for each other quite quickly. Klum’s mother and father happily welcomed him into their family, and the two got married in 2005.
The couple invited family and friends to an extravagant beach wedding in Mexico, and they pulled out all the stops to make sure guests had an amazing time. They also made a pact to renew their vows every single year.
Seal and Klum quickly became a high-profile Hollywood couple. They were both household names, and when they arrived at parties, they made their entrances grand, even dressing up like crows for a Halloween party one year!
Then, in 2008, Seal did something extra special for Klum at Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and brought her up on stage, and they sang a duet together! The two were madly in love, and fans all over couldn’t get enough of them.
By 2009, four years after their wedding, they had three children together. Seal also officially adopted Klum’s daughter with Flavio Briatore. With four kids and two successful careers, the family was more than complete, and they had every intention of staying that way.
As the couple promised, they renewed their wedding vows every year, and it seemed there was nothing that could pull them apart. However, it was during a family vacation to Ibiza where people started to notice what seemed like a riff in their connection.
The couple traveled to the island with friends, but according to some sources, Seal was off partying hard while Klum was with the kids a majority of the time. Then, upon returning, Seal was a guest on The Ellen Degeneres Show and dropped some dramatic news.
He told Ellen and the audience he and Klum were going their separate ways because they both “grew apart.” This came as a shock to fans, but even more surprising was what else Seal had to say about Klum.
You might think a couple who’s going through a separation would say negative things about each other, but Seal did the exact opposite. He told Ellen how lucky he was to know her, and that she was “the most wonderful woman in the world.”
Being as high-profile as he was, Seal made his rounds to many other talk shows after Ellen to discuss his relationship status. Every time he spoke to a host, he always had nothing but amazing things to say about Klum.
Seal said Klum “has given me four incredible gifts, four beautiful children.” The pair wanted to handle things civilly for the children. And, Seal also admitted to something highly unusual shortly after the decision to split.
Although he and Klum were calling it quits, he still sported his wedding ring after announcing it to the world. In his interview with Ellen, he explained he didn’t want to immediately remove his ring because he still felt “connected” to his wife. However, in 2014, the pair finalized their divorce.
So, who did Klum and Seal end up with afterward? Well, Seal didn’t settle down with anyone, but Klum found love again in a musician named Tom Kaulitz, who sings for a band called Tokio Hotel.
Kaulitz’s name didn’t carry nearly the weight of Klum’s, but since they became an item in 2018, you can imagine Kaulitz has definitely been put on the paparazzi’s radar. He may not be as big a musician as Seal, but the world-famous model found love regardless.
It’s a shame Seal and Klum couldn’t make things work, but in an age where divorces can potentially become nasty and bitter, these two did it the mature way, and hopefully their children adjusted to the change with ease. Seal, of course, isn’t the only famous musician who’s had ups and downs throughout their life.
Madonna was born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone on August 16, 1958, in Bay City, Michigan. She once referred to her hometown as “a stinky, little town in Northern Michigan,” on national television.
One of six children, Madonna is named after her mother, who died of breast cancer when the future queen of pop was only five years old. To distinguish her from her mother, she was referred to “Little Nonni.”
She once described her young self as a lonely girl who was searching for something. “I wasn’t rebellious,” she said. “I cared about being good at something. I didn’t shave my underarms and I didn’t wear make-up, but I studied and I got good grades. I just wanted to be somebody.”
Even though she was rather quiet in high school, she was still a cheerleader, which paired well with her love for athletics and dance. She later wore a vintage cheerleader outfit during one of her concerts.
Jack Guez Via Buzzfeed
Not only has she always been athletically and musically gifted she was also a smartypants. She always got straight As during her studies and has an IQ of 140. That’s not fair girl; you can’t just have it all!
Trying to make ends meet while studying dance in New York City, Madonna took work wherever she could find it, including a Dunkin’ Donuts. There, she was reportedly fired for squirting jam in a customer’s face.
Before going the route of a solo artist, Madonna formed the band Breakfast Club with musician Dan Gilroy, a boyfriend she met while dancing on tour in Europe. The two lived together in an abandoned synagogue in Queens while trying to make it in the music world.
A year later, she left the band (and Gilroy) to form the band Emmy with new boyfriend Stephen Bray. Their music caught the attention of Sire Records founder Seymour Stein, who offered her a singles deal.
Her iconic ’80s look (think lace tops, short skirts, fishnets, lots of bracelets, and crucifixes) was actually the creation of her stylist and jewelry designer Maripol, who also styled Grace Jones and Debbie Harry. We’re sure Madonna had her own influence, too.
Michael Putland via Billboard
Unfortunately, not everybody was a fan of her style. People magazine named her Worst Dressed back in 1999 when her outfits consisted of kimonos, leather dresses, white tank tops, and crimped hair. She bounced back in a big way — she always does!
Since she started recording solo, she has produced 13 albums, each one a success. Her total sales have earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as both the most successful female solo artist of all time and the best-selling female recording artist.
Mazur/WireImage from Rolling Stone
In 1990, she was nominated to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. However, she showed no interest in accepting, and the invitation eventually expired. Let’s face it. Madonna doesn’t need a star to know she’s an icon.
Madonna has appeared in 19 films over the course of her career, with her starring role in the 1996 film adaptation of Evita earning her a Golden Globe. She may have sung “Don’t Cry for Me,” but we all did during that scene.
She’s been married twice; first to actor Sean Penn from 1985-1989 and then to director Guy Ritchie from 2000-2008, with whom she has one son. Both marriages were rumored to be abusive, and Madonna has dated mostly younger men since.
Who needs a man when you can be a single mom of 6 kids? Lourdes was born in 1996, followed by Rocco John Ritchie in 2000. The adoptions of Malwai-born David Banda followed in 2006 and Chifundo “Mercy” James in 2009, and twin sisters Esther & Stella arrived in 2017.
Her 22-year-old daughter Lourdes was named as a tribute to Madonna’s mother, who wanted to visit Lourdes, France, where the Virgin Mary, or the Madonna, appeared in 1858. Unfortunately, Madonna senior died before she had the chance.
In 1989, Madonna signed a $5 million dollar endorsement deal with Pepsi tied to the release of her “Like a Prayer” music video. But after the controversial video and its blasphemous Catholic imagery caused an uproar, the commercial never even aired.
Madonna – Like A Prayer (Official Music Video) via Youtube
Along with her manager Guy Oseary and Mark Mastrov, the founder and CEO of 24 Hour Fitness, Madonna opened a series of gyms/health clubs called Hard Candy Fitness, named after her 2008 album Hard Candy. She herself led a class at the opening.
VideoScoutIt via Youtube
The infamous song (and music video) “Vogue” was originally only going to be a B-side because Madonna didn’t believe it was strong enough for a single. Luckily, her producers thought otherwise!
When she released her book Sex in 1992, full of explicit photos of the Material Girl, it was so incredibly popular that a reprint had to be ordered within 48 hours. It topped the New York Times bestseller list within a week.
The first song to ever make a strong impression on Madonna was Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” which she told TIME Magazine in 1985 summed up her own “take-charge attitude.”
Madonna’s self-proclaimed major style and music influences include Debbie Harry from Blondie, Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders, and Karen Carpenter from the Carpenters, as well as The Supremes and Led Zepplin.
Besides her two former husbands, Madonna also dated Actor Carlos Leon (Lourdes’ father), Vanilla Ice, Warren Beatty, Dennis Rodman, Lenny Kravitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, John. F. Kennedy Jr., and — believe it or not — Tupac.
Patrick McMullan via Rolling Stone
In 2017, she opened the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care in Blantyre, Malawi (a country in southeast Africa). The hospital was named after her adoptive daughter Mercy, and Madonna still makes many contributions to the nation.
The Recording Industry Association of America has named Madonna the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century. She’s also the second top-selling female artist in the United States with a whopping 63 million certified albums.
According to her brother Christopher, who wrote a book about her, the only thing Madonna can cook is Rice Krispie treats. Luckily for her, she’s Madonna and when she gets a hankering for something more gourmet, she can hire a chef to make it for her.
Madonna Art Vision via Direct Expose
In 2006, scientists discovered a species of microscopic organisms called “water bears,” a.k.a. Echiniscus Madonnae. They can live 120 years without food or water while withstanding conditions that would kill most other species, so it’s a total compliment!
After the 2003 Video Music Awards, all anybody could talk about was the infamous kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears on stage. What most people didn’t know was that she also kissed Christina Aguilera, but the cameras cut away to Justin Timberlake’s reaction instead.
After years of a cybersquatter using the domain name madonna.com to operate a pornography website, Madonna finally beat him in court when the jury found that site operator Dan Parisi lacked “rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.”
Ever wonder why “Hung Up” sounds so similar to ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme?” It’s because it was one of the only two times ABBA allowed their music to be sampled. Since Madonna was grateful for the rights, she later gave the TV show Glee the rights to perform all her songs.
This superstar holds the record for the most number-ones on all Billboard charts with a total of 156, including 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 43 on the Hot Dance Club Songs. She also scored 38 top-ten singles on the Hot 100 — more than any other artist in history!
Madonna – Material Girl (Official Music Video) via Youtube
Her music videos, dance performances, and interviews sparked so much controversy that the Pope actually asked people not to attend her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour due to her simulated masturbation during “Like a Virgin.”
It’s obvious that she has a flair for fashion, so she designed a clothing line for H&M in the U.K. The clothes certainly reflected a calmer, more modern style, as it didn’t include any of her iconic ’80s accessories.
How does she stay so fit? Madonna follows a macrobiotic diet and incorporates a lot of sea vegetables, like seaweed, into her meals. In 2016, her trainer Craig Smith said she worked out for at least 30 minutes, six days a week.
According to plastic surgeons, her facial features are the most sought after features by women who opt for going under the knife. No wonder she was called the “ultimate face!”
Interscope via Nylon Mag
As an adult, her life has been influenced by the Jewish belief of Kabbalah, meaning she practices an inner sense of peace, believes in the evil eye, and feels a connection with the infinite universe. She even converted to Judaism and adopted the name Esther.
Chris Helgren of REUTERS via NRC
Due to her beliefs, it has been rumored that Madonna will only drink specially blessed, bottled Kabbalah water. Supposedly, she spends over $10,000 every month on the holy hydration and requires they be provided wherever she goes.
On top of all of her other previously discussed talents, Madonna is also the author of 10 children’s books. Her most popular is titled Friends For Life and is thematically linked to Kabalah.
In 2008, Madonna made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — a well-deserved accolade for this legend. According to the Hall, the popularity of Madonna’s album Like A Virgin has made it on the list of the Definitive 200 Albums of All Times. It just proves she is timeless!