Most models would have you believe they eat whatever they like - “I eat burgers and French fries!” they protest, as if they fall out of bed every day looking like a magazine advertisement. Industry people know that’s not true, and so does supermodel Adriana Lima.
Lima is disarmingly frank about what it takes to prepare for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show - watched by eight million people, reportedly - in which the world’s highest-paid models wear barely-there lingerie as part of a production that costs $10 million.
So here’s what it really takes to be an Angel: Lima, 30, has been working out every day with a personal trainer since August. For the last three weeks, she’s been working out twice a day.
"It is really intense, it’s not really the amount of time you spend working out, it’s the intensity: I jump rope, I do boxing, I lift weights, but I get bored doing that. If I am not moving I get bored very easily."
She sees a nutritionist, who has measured her body’s muscle mass, fat ratio and levels of water retention. He prescribes protein shakes, vitamins and supplements to keep Lima’s energy levels up during this training period. Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show, she will drink only protein shakes - “no solids”. The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show, she will abstain from the daily gallon of water, and “just drink normally”. Then, 12 hours before the show, she will stop drinking entirely.
"No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that," she says.
"It’s like they’re training for a marathon," says Sophia Neophitou, the British fashion editor who is chief stylist for this year’s show.
"Adriana works really hard at it. It’s the same as if you were a long-distance runner. They are athletes in this environment - it’s harder to be a Victoria’s Secret model because no one can just chuck an outfit on you, and hide your lumps and bumps."
The body type they are looking for when casting for the show harks back to the Eighties, says Neophitou, to the golden age of the original supers: Linda, Christy, Cindy, Elle and Naomi.
"It isn’t about being a waif, it was about being empowered and you can achieve that," Neophitou says.
Lima has been an Angel since 2000. She has since had a baby. Two of her fellow Angels walking the runway this year, Doutzen Kroes and Miranda Kerr, have each recently given birth, too.
The preparation is all worth it, says Lima, because the show is the highlight of her year.
"Actually, the Victoria’s Secret show is the highlight of my life. Becoming an Angel, once I achieved that, it was a dream come true for me. And I know that after all this is done, when I sit down with my daughter one day, we are going to look back and it’s going to be very special."
What does being hand-picked to represent the brand do for a model’s career (not to mention her income)? “It opens up so many doors, everyone knows your name, the whole world knows you now,” she says.
"Any model in this world would love to be an Angel."