While Erin Heatherton may be famous for her flawless appearance, the stunner's outlook on beauty—particularly while navigating the shallow waters of the modeling industry—is not only refreshing, it's downright admirable.
"I'm not perfect," she candidly admits in the latest issue of Ocean Drive magazine while flaunting her famous figure in an itty-bitty bikini. "I never identified with the way I look; I was just born this way."
Unlike many young girls, Heatherton never aspired to become a model (even after she grew to 5-foot-11-inches at just 15 years old). She was scouted in South Beach while in Miami for a tour of the university with her pal—and believe it or not, that trip to Miami was the Illinois native's first time on a plane.
"Some guy jumped out of a cab and asked me what agency I worked for because he was scouting for Abercrombie & Fitch. I was horrified—I was like, 'I don't model,' and I was embarrassed that he didn't ask my friend to be a model," she recalls. "But my mom followed up with him, and after my junior year of high school, we packed and went to New York. My mom left after two days because I signed with an agency."
At the young age of 17, Heatherton had already found more success than many, but the 25-year-old blonde, who has rocked the Victoria's Secret runway a number of times, says that her self-confidence comes from within.
"I don't feel rejection if I'm not the right person for a job, because that's not where I find my self-worth," she says. "I'm a beautiful person, and that's not because of my modeling career. There are good shots, and there are bad shots, but it's just like playing a character. If you think of the top five people that you care about the most in your life, you probably don't care if they look good in every angle or photo."
Wise words. And despite often being surrounded by some of the most beautiful women in the world, Heatherton still strongly believes in inner beauty—and never judges a book by its cover.
"In the beginning, I was surrounded by the most beautiful people in the world, and I spoke to these icons for five minutes and I didn't think they were beautiful anymore," she recalls. "When you're surrounded by the best of the best, it's a really quick way to understand what does matter. Ever since I was a kid, I never really cared what people thought. I was kind of a loner."
Make that a dazzling loner, who's been romantically linked to some of Hollywood's most eligible bachelors, including Leonardo DiCaprio, although Erin admits it's not always easy dating in the spotlight.
"It's not a comfortable feeling," she confesses. "With modeling it's fantasy, so it doesn't touch you, but when it's your personal life, then it can burn. But that's part of the job. It helped me to find more inner strength."