According to Victoria’s Secret model Devon Windsor, there’s more to strutting down the catwalk than wearing wings and not much else.
The 24-year-old was compelled to participate in the E! docu-series “Model Squad,” which explores how nine supermodels prepare for the fall runway season, all while maintaining their personal lives and fiercely competitive careers.
The blonde beauty, who was discovered in Missouri at age 14 at a bar mitzvah party for her striking features and towering height, told Fox News cover girl hopefuls need to look past the glossy issues and realize it takes more than a pretty face to survive the industry.
“You definitely have to grow that thick skin because otherwise you’ll just get chewed up and spit out,” warned Windsor. “It’s a harsh world out there.”
Windsor – who didn’t pursue modeling full time until age 18, after she finished school – has become one of the most sought-after faces in the industry. She has appeared in over 20 international collections, including Prada and Christian Dior.
She has also walked the runway for countless couture brands, including Chanel and Balmain, among others. Her famous figure has also appeared on the pages of Maxim and Vogue Germany, just to name a few.
However, Windsor is best recognized for being a regular in the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show since 2014.
While the brand is known for its racy lingerie, Windsor insisted she’s received plenty of support from her family to participate in the televised show. She insisted it’s the secret behind her lasting success.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people that were always supporting me, and I never felt pressure,” she explained. “I’ve always been comfortable and confident in my own body, and I see wearing lingerie kind of like wearing a bikini.
"Obviously, it’s different, but at the time you’re showing the same amount. My bikinis are very skimpy, so maybe not for everyone… Not everyone’s going to love you or what you do. Someone’s always going to complain about something.”
The St. Louis native admitted that being a top model is far from simply striking a pose. In addition to constantly working out to stay in camera-ready shape all year long and making sure your features are flawless, there’s also the overwhelming scrutiny from both the public, as well as those doing the hiring.
“The biggest challenge for me, and I think for most girls, is just the criticism, the amount of criticism that we take, honestly, every day,” said Windsor. “We’re being critiqued every day, whether you hear them critiquing you or it’s behind your back, whether it’s the client, casting, friends, agents — you’re constantly being judged and you’re constantly being denied.
“We’re denied more opportunities than we get… Dealing with that rejection has definitely been difficult for me… But I learned to just get over it and realize that it’s not personal… It can also just be exhausting, and you’re lonely. All of that comes with the territory, but the rejection is something that stabs you every time.”
Windsor acknowledged that modeling offers plenty of perks, including getaways to some of the most beautiful and exclusive locations in the world, plenty of couture, as well as non-stop invites to celebrity hot spots and parties.
However, models will get heavily scrutinized frequently whether they like it or not.
“We get put down a lot in this industry, and I think when you’re really young and you’re not used to it, it really hurts you,” she said.
“Because a lot of girls become depressed or anxious and they just can’t handle the rejection. They take it very personally. And I think as you get older, as you become more comfortable in this industry, that you understand it’s not really about just you. There are so many factors involved in picking a model for a shoot or show. If they want a brunette then they’re not going to go with me.”
Windsor recalled being sent straight to Milan alone and far away from her family in Missouri after she graduated from high school to work — an experience she described as “really hard” to cope.
But there was one thing that comforted Windsor — country music.
“Personally, I grew up around it,” she said. “I’ve had a ranch house my whole life, so we’d go down there, be in nature and just listen to country music. For me, it’s very relaxing. When I hear it while I’m traveling or wherever I am, even working, it just mellows me out and brings me back home… It’s comforting.”
And her perseverance paid off. In 2014, Windsor got the call that she was going to appear in Victoria’s Secret for the very first time.
“It was absolutely insane,” said Windsor about landing the heavenly gig. “I was shopping and… screamed on the phone… I remember calling my mom and she was crying. She couldn’t believe it. And neither could I honestly. I never thought I would get it.”
Windsor hopes her participation in “Model Squad” will show other young girls the little-known, less glamorous side to modeling. It takes plenty of hard work and guts to make it successfully — but it can be done.
“I wanted to show people what it was really like to be in this industry,” she said. “Because they only really see one side, whether it’s social media or wherever, they only see that glamorous side, the life that we live, and there’s so much more to it.”
"Model Squad" airs premieres Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 8 p.m. on E!