Adriana: She is considered one of the most beautiful people in the world and it has made her a regular on the runway. But fashion model Coco Rocha told me how she defines real beauty.
Coco Rocha: A lot of people think of models just having a face that there’s no personality behind the face. So I thought it was important to let people know that I have a story too.
Adriana: Canadian-born model Coco Rocha tells her story all over social media, with Facebook, her blog and Twitter feed. She is in high demand on runways, magazine covers and in ad campaigns. But that is probably the least interesting thing about her.
Coco: What I get my paycheck for is just for pretty much if I can wear those shorts or if I can put on that jacket and if I look good in that make up.
Adriana: Yeah, Coco gets paid for how she looks on the outside, but she likes to feel good on the inside too. On a rainy evening, Channel One tagged along as Coco went on a mobile soup kitchen run with Coalition for the Homeless, a New York City charity.
Coco: I didn’t realize how many kids here needed food, shelter and a little bit of love.
Adriana: And it is not just for our cameras.
Coco: I like to see what I’m putting my name to. So that’s why i’m here.
Adriana: That is also why she rounded up her friends and husband James, and traveled to Haiti, wanting to help children who were orphaned by the massive earthquake.
Coco: We thought instead of just going there with funds and so forth, we decided what would be amazing is bringing letters to the children there. And what better than kids around the world sending their love and their praises to these kids in Haiti. And in return they’d become a pen pal service.
Adriana: James and Coco’s documentary Letters to Haiti, filmed with the Haitian charity Lakay Pam, shows the group meeting kids and teens who lost everything in the earthquake, including their families.
Coco: I put the word out on my blog and immediately letters started flooding in from every corner of the globe. We tried to point out on the map where these letters came from. The reaction of the little kids was adorable, ‘Merci, merci!’
Adriana: Coco is back in the U.S., devoting her time to other causes as well. She is involved in Senhoa, a project that helps Cambodian girls who were trafficked, or sold, become financially independent. The girls learn how to make high-end jewelry, like these intricate pieces designed by Coco, who happily modeled them for us.
Adriana: Coco started modeling at just fifteen. That is why she is outspoken about models who start their careers at a young age — too young, from her experience — before their bodies have changed. That is a catwalk that could lead to lifelong problems with weight and body image.
Coco: That’s where girls have their issues. ‘Why am I changing?’ They’re not told, ‘Well, you’re supposed to change, you’re supposed to get hips and boobs and turn into a woman.’ Instead they believe that, ‘I need to be a stick, as this thin girl I’ve been all my life, so that I can continue on working.’ And they don’t understand that it is normal and it is ok.
Adriana: Coco is so adamant about young people’s self-esteem, she teamed up with Canadian fashion brand Jacob for a no-retouching campaign. Jacob made a commitment to never digitally alter the body shape of its models.
Coco: A lot of people don’t realize what it means to take a picture and put it into the magazines or campaigns. And this was really a refreshing thing to a lot of people, making sure a woman’s body looks like a woman’s body.
Adriana: And Coco’s advice to young people who aren’t 100% comfortable in their bodies?
Coco: Instead of thinking, ‘How can I change that,’ realize that you have something that probably no one else has. My thing always was, I had buck teeth. I hated them when I started modeling. But then all of a sudden, when I would pose, I would pose with my mouth open. Because I didn’t know how to pose with it closed because of my teeth. And then all of a sudden, I had the ‘Coco pose.’ And it was my pose. People would always be like, ‘Do that open-mouth-thing you do.’ And people embraced what I thought was horrible. So, that’s what I think I’d tell kids. Embrace what you have that’s unique. Embrace it, use it. Because no one else has it.