At 5-feet-11-inches, Behati Prinsloo felt she had to slouch to fit in with her peers growing up. But now the supermodel (who's married to Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine) says her long legs make her stand out in a crowd — and she loves it. The mom of two (to Dusty Rose, 2, and Gio Grace, 1) opened up to TODAY Style about how becoming a parent inspires her work with the Save the Rhino Trust and her message to new moms about postpartum depression.
I love my legs because when I was in high school especially, I got teased for being taller than all the boys and all the girls. I use to slouch, you know, when we'd get into assembly. When I got scouted one of the main reasons was because of my legs and how tall I was, and it made me confident. Now when I stand out in a crowd, I feel blessed by them because they have gotten me where I am today.
Everybody called me giraffe or grasshopper because they have skinny legs. I was just really kind of awkward, you know. I just grew really quickly before all the boys, but, whatever, it got me here. It made me stronger and here I am, sitting and talking about them.
To other tall girls I would say, "Own it." You know, everybody's different; use what you have. And, you know, tall legs can make you an amazing jumper or athlete. It's really useful. You can get things from really high up! So I would say, "Try not to listen to those people saying mean things about your legs because they're beautiful."
I think when you get older, you just get more comfortable with yourself. I would say I probably got more confident when I started doing fashion shows and catwalks when I was 16. I was like, "Oh, these legs get me around. They gave me work. They get me all sorts of things." I'm proud of them. And my dad's tall. It's in my family. My grandfather, too. My mom's not that tall. But, you know, that's not her fault.
What would I say to my younger self? I would say that it's all going to be fine. School is so overwhelming sometimes and there's so much pressure in school to do well. And I didn't always feel like I did enough. And I think looking back that I did do enough. And I did my best. So I would tell her to just chill. Don't take it so seriously.
Growing up in Africa was incredible. I was very lucky enough to grow up in Namibia in a very small town called Grootfontein, which means "big fountain." My family's been in Africa for many generations. My mom's from Cape Town, South Africa. My dad's from Namibia. And I think being from Namibia, or Africa as a whole, you really get to be so close to Mother Nature.
You really live among these incredible animals and massive trees. Every day you think about Mother Nature, which I really appreciate. Because when we do live in big cities and towns you kind of sometimes forget that there's a bigger world out there, you know.
Rhinos as a cause came to me at a really interesting time in my life when I just had my two kids and I was really ready to live by example — for my two girls and for a lot of young kids and people. And the Save the Rhino Trust is really important to me because it's where I'm from. It's where I grew up and what I identify with.
I feel like if rhinos truly only have 10 years left on the Earth, if we keep up poaching the way we do, then my kids will never grow up seeing them in the wild the way I did. So for me, it's really important to use my voice and my platform to show my girls what is important and to hopefully get the youth inspired and make them feel the same urgency I feel toward conservation and just the planet in general.
Being a mom has changed me in many ways. I had moments of postpartum (depression) after our first baby (daughter Dusty, now 2) that I felt like it was coming through. But my husband was so incredibly supportive and always got me out of it. I think it's very normal, though, as a young mom and a new mom to feel helpless and to feel overly emotional, you know.
And I think I got lucky not to have it to an extreme case, but you can see yourself spiraling. And I think that the message is just that it's never too little to ask for help. So no matter how small your feelings and stress — or whatever it is about being a new mom — there's always help out there and support from family and friends. And I think nobody judges anyone.
As told to TODAY's Emily Sher. This story has been edited and condensed for clarity.