As the world’s richest model, and a celebrity both from modeling and endorsements, we should probably expect some controversy to surround Gisele Bundchen, although after sixteen years in the limelight she has managed to weather the few storms well, and shows no sign that her star is waning.
Much of the controversy around Gisele has been described as over hyped by her management, and little long term effect has been noticed, Gisele still manages to attract some of the highest paid modeling contracts in the industry, and continues to represent many of the biggest fashion names.
Annie Liebovitz’s April 2008 Vogue cover of Gisele and LeBron James is the most recent to attract controversy and accusations of racism, although not directed at LeBron, but instead at the photographer, Gisele, and Vogue magazine for placing LeBron is a posture reminiscent of King Kong.
The accusation leveled against Gisele is of pandering to a white elitist niche by appearing to echo Fay Wray in the King Kong poster, and thus suggesting LeBron is being equated with a big ape, a stereotype often used by racists, but which Liebovitz, Gisele Bundchen, Vogue Magazine, and LeBron James all deny. Indeed, LeBron was the very first African-American male to feature on the cover of Vogue, something he has described as a great honor and a lot of fun to shoot.
Veja, Brazil’s highest circulation weekly tabloid published several articles in late 2007 alleging Gisele wasn’t prepared to accept payment in either Brazilian Reais, or US dollars at a time when global money markets were under pressure. Gisele’s sister Patricia, who is also her manager, was forced to rebut these accusations on Gisele’s official website.
Being known for her pride in being Brazilian, Gisele often appears in television commercials on Brazilian TV, and frequently champions Brazilian causes, so the allegation that she demanded to be paid in Euros for representing Pantene in Brazil caused a great deal of embarrassment. A similar accusation was published after Gisele agreed to work with Dolce & Gabbana globally to represent their new perfume The One.
Perhaps most upsetting for Gisele were the accusations that her environmental credentials were contradictory when PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) sabotaged the filming of the 2002 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show after Gisele had agreed to a contract with Blackglama, a fur farming organization.
Four PETA activists jumped onto the runway beside Gisele waving placards that read “Gisele: Fur Scum”. The protest had little to do with Victoria’s Secret and could have jeopardized her contract, but producers stopped the music, and after security had removed the PETA activists Gisele’s walk was re-filmed. Afterwards Gisele seemed to show little sympathy for PETA and their protest, and commented on CNN that the protest wasn’t appropriate because the fashion show only had faux fur outfits.
Later, after Gisele’s involvement with Blackglama was exposed to be the reason for the protest, Gisele publicly apologized, ended her contract with Blckglama, and declared that she no longer wears fur. She also stated she loves animals and hates seeing them hurt. “It was a bad decision on my part because I don’t wear fur and I understand their cause” she was reported saying after her apology.
Gisele Bundchen’s own dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Vida, is her constant companion when she is in the US, and when Vida went missing for a few days in 2004, Gisele offered a reward of $5,000 for his return. Fortunately, Vida was found safe and returned to Gisele, however the couple who returned Vida to Gisele were never paid.
In fact, the couple in question were later arrested by armed police officers after a tip off the couple had stolen Vida to extort money from Gisele. After questioning, police released the couple, apparently satisfied they had nothing to do with Vida’s disappearance, although they were still never offered the reward for Vida’s safe return.
Controversy surrounding the son of Gisele Bundchen’s husband Tom Brady hasn’t been too far from the limelight either, after Bridget Moynihan, the child’s mother has been reported to be upset that Gisele is flagrantly disregarding her wishes to keep her son away from the paparazzi. Gisele has inadvertently upset Moynihan several times, first when she was pregnant by sending a gift package of baby clothes from the ‘Supermodel’ brand.
More recently, Gisele has said in interviews with Vanity Fair that she sees young John Brady as her own son, “it’s not like because somebody else delivered him, that’s not my child”, and also “love him the same way as if he were mine and I already feel like he’s my son from the first day”. Bridget Moynihan has reportedly threatened to prevent her son seeing Gisele if more care avoiding paparazzi isn’t taken by Gisele and Tom.