More and more models are taking advantage of their media visibility to talk about racial inclusion, feminism or sustainability. Fashion brands, for their part, are more aware than ever that they cannot turn a deaf ear to social problems, and some are even beginning to hire their ambassadors based on their positioning against certain causes. Natalia Vodianova , however, was always there. Her supermodel profile ( and her marriage to Antoine Arnault, son of the almighty owner of LVMH ) may have overshadowed her work, but the truth is that Vodianova has been around since she was 17, when she moved to Paris and signed her first major contracts, fighting for girls in impoverished areas to grow up in more favorable conditions.
Now she has just been appointed ambassador of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) . She will work as a spokesperson to raise awareness about the stigmas that still exist around menstruation today. “Something that has been undermining the self-esteem of many women for too long. It doesn't matter where they are born, ”the model declared at the post-appointment press conference. The so-called menstrual poverty , that is, the difficulty in accessing feminine hygiene products, affects at least one in four women worldwide. Not to mention the prejudices that still exist today in certain countries around this issue. Vodianova herself opened a discussion forum on the subject a couple of days ago through her Instagram, in which several women addressed their personal situations.
Unfortunately, you know what you are dealing with. Vodianova belongs to that generation of models from Eastern Europe who, at the turn of the century, saw in this profession a way out of poverty. He spent his childhood in the small Russian town of Nizhny Novgorod selling fruit on the street to help his mother. At 15 she joined a modeling agency to try her luck, and at 17 she traveled to Paris and began her career as a top model . "When I started to be successful, I was very aware that I was leaving millions of people behind," he told Business of Fashion magazine in an interview .
In 2005 he created Naked Heart , a foundation that builds parks and playgrounds for children in his native Russia. In ten years, he had already built two hundred. “Our mission is to create safe play spaces, adapted to all abilities. Play is part of healthy growth; it is a right, not a luxury ”, says the model on the foundation's website. His prominent role in fashion is also Naked Heart's main means of financing. Vodianova annually holds a charity gala, Love Ball, in which the industry's most prominent personalities hold auctions and donations. It is also present at the Paris half marathon together with firms such as Guerlain to publicize the cause.
In 2018, the idea of capitalizing on its notoriety to support social causes took a step further. He founded Elbi, an application that by connecting users, firms and influencers , converts the likes into micro donations of one dollar. A month after its launch, the application already had more than 150,000 users donating small amounts to a hundred NGOs, mostly focused on improving the conditions of children at risk of exclusion and children with disabilities, the two obsessions of Vodianova, who had to deal with poverty and take care of one of her psychically disabled sisters since she was very little.
Meanwhile, she continues to work as a model; starring on covers, parading or lending his image to campaigns. Her philanthropic work and her family life (she is the mother of five children) have separated her from that frantic career that led her to enter the list of the highest paid models for several consecutive years, but she does not want to stop being in the media spotlight. At the end of the day, you are aware that your visibility is the best guarantee to be able to help. And even more so now that she will work from the UN to raise awareness about women's health.