Gisele Bundchen's Most Controversial Moments Ever

The following article includes mentions of eating disorders and mental health issues.

Gisele Bündchen knows how to get real about fame and, surprisingly or not, she's not all that enamored with her own celebrity. During a photo shoot with Vanity Fair, she told the crew's kids that day, "Let me tell you, being a model is not so glamorous as you think." She went on, "Sometimes you stand around in little clothes in the freezing weather, in Iceland. Sometimes you burn up for hours in the sun on the beach. It is a good job, but it's just a job. You listen to Gisele on that one, O.K.?"

Bündchen was a superstar in her own right and then married NFL icon Tom Brady, and the two became an unstoppable force. But they've had to work on their relationship and, at one point, Bündchen even admitted why she was unsatisfied with her marriage. Nevertheless, they've worked through things and despite each of their impressive successes, neither has eclipsed the other. In fact, when news broke that Brady was returning to the NFL after a retirement announcement in early 2022, her own career started to blow up again. So they obviously have a symbiotic relationship. While things look hunky-dory on her end, Bündchen's also got a shadier side that's occasionally caught people off guard

Some instances are silly, and others have certainly raised some eyebrows, but these are Gisele Bündchen's most controversial moments ever.

Her law about breastfeeding

Gisele Bündchen had some interesting statements to make about breastfeeding. Always one for the natural route, Bündchen got really opinionated about what was best for babies and went so far as to say breastfeeding should become a mandate. "Some people here think they don't have to breastfeed, and I think, 'Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?'" she said to Harper's Bazaar UK in 2010 (via the Daily Mail). "There should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months."

Obviously, Bündchen's comment about breastfeeding didn't sit well with audiences, and she later clarified her statement. Noting that the controversial remarks had "nothing to do with the law," she blogged (via ABC News), "Becoming a new mom has brought a lot of questions, I feel like I am in a constant search for answers on what might be the best for my child. ... I think as mothers we are all just trying our best."

Fair enough. But this wasn't the only interesting claim that the supermodel made about breastmilk. "My kids never got sick when I was breastfeeding," Bündchen later told People, noting that she found it handy to use for various home medicinal purposes. Hey, whatever works!

Gisele Bundchen's comments about childbirth

Gisele Bündchen also had some intense opinions about where and how childbirth should best happen. "Not for one second did it cross my mind that I was not going to have my baby at home," Bündchen said in that same Harper's Bazaar UK interview (via the Daily Mail). "I am not the first person to give birth naturally. Billions of other women have come before me and have done this — so why can't I do it?" she questioned.

Bündchen went on and explained her workout routine prior to giving birth, which included yoga and kung fu. "It prepared me mentally and physically," she said of her exercise regimen. "It's called 'labor,' not 'holiday' for a reason, and I knew that." Bündchen added, "You want to go into the most intense physical experience of your life unprepared? That doesn't make any sense to me. Then I was ready and I thought, 'OK let's get to work.' I wasn't expecting someone else to get the baby out of me. I had to do it together with him."

She shares two children with Tom Brady. Their eldest is Benjamin Rein followed by their daughter, Vivian Lake. Fun fact: Bündchen had another name picked out for their son, River, but Brady nixed it. Noting that she "wanted something always flowing, immortal" for her eldest child's moniker, the model explained to Vogue that they instead opted for Reinoldo in honor of her father, saying, "It's like water."

Stepmom overstepping?

Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady began their romance while his ex, Bridget Moynahan, was pregnant with their son, John, who goes by Jack. Happily, the supermodel took to the role of stepmom with ease. While the blended family's love and support seems great, some felt Bündchen overstepped when she told Vanity Fair that she felt like Jack was her own.

"I understand that he has a mom, and I respect that, but to me it's not like because somebody else delivered him, that's not my child. I feel it is, 100 percent," she said. "I want him to have a great relationship with his mom, because that's important, but I love him the same way as if he were mine. I already feel like he's my son, from the first day." People were taken aback by the statement, as Vogue noted, and the media had a field day.

While the comment might have been a tad much for Moynahan, she looked past it to see the big picture and wrote about this in her book "Our Shoes, Our Selves" in 2019 (via ET). "Tom and I made a decision to raise a child together and we both found partners that not only supported us in raising that child, but also loved our child as if he was their own," Moynahan explained. "I don't think you can ask for more than that. My son is surrounded by love." That sounds like a great attitude, and Bündchen and Moynahan thankfully get along well now.

Drama at the Victoria's Secret fashion show

There was once a huge debacle involving Gisele Bündchen and fur. The supermodel was walking the Victoria's Secret show in 2002, per Elle, when PETA protestors jumped on the runway and held up signs reading: "Gisele: Fur Scum." The intense reaction came because she had previously modeled for Blackglama, a world-famous furrier. The onslaught of protestors on the runway — who were quickly removed by security — didn't stop Bündchen. She finished walking and went backstage, but she later told Vanity Fair that the experience was extremely stressful. 

"I thought they were going to hurt me," she explained. "I didn't know what was going on." But Bündchen allowed the experience to be a transformative one. She wrote an apology letter to PETA and opened up about her own advocacy for animals. "It was a bad decision on my part, because I don't wear fur," she told Vanity Fair, "and I understand their cause. I am the biggest animal-lover in the world. I have four dogs and two horses, and I have rescued animals all my life. I did a whole special for I.F.A.W. [the International Fund for Animal Welfare] for the Russian bear, because they go and kill the cubs when the mothers are in the cages. Leonardo [DiCaprio] did it for the whales, and I did it for the bears." 

She further said she was drawn to Blackglama's work because of their star-studded history in the "What Becomes a Legend Most?" campaign, but Bündchen changed her mind after the protestors' demonstration.

Gisele Bundchen called sunscreen 'poison'

You're not going to catch Gisele Bündchen slathering herself down in sunscreen. In another controversial moment, the supermodel said in 2011 that she never wore the product, per the Daily Mail. "I cannot put this poison on my skin," she said. "I do not use anything synthetic."

Her comment caused an uproar, and the head of dermatology at the National Cancer Institute in Brazil, Dolival Loao, stated to the Daily Mail in response, "Sunscreen prevents damage to the skin and is of fundamental importance for the prevention of cancer." He went on, "This is not any poison, when a public person makes a statement like this, it creates confusion."

In response to the backlash, Bündchen had her publicist, Amber Clapp, speak to StyleList (via PopSugar) and clarify what she meant by calling sunscreen poison. "Gisele would never say not to use sunscreen because she has had family members who have had skin cancer," Clapp explained. "She simply stated that her all-natural skin-care [Sejaa] line does not have SPF because there is not an all natural SPF available." Bündchen also wrote on her blog that she does, on occasion, use sun protection. "I do use sunblock but also I try my best not to be exposed to the sun when it is too strong," she wrote (via PopSugar) and, as the Daily Mail noted, she tries to go out before 8 am to avoid the sun when it's strongest. Still, many dermatologists weren't happy with her statement.

She once blamed eating disorders on parents

The fashion industry paused to respond to the tragedy of the death of Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston in 2006 after she died of complications related to anorexia, The Guardian noted. Just before her, model Luisel Ramos died of a heart attack connected to anorexia.

The tragedies brought on extended conversations within the fashion industry about unsafe pressure put on models to follow a particular aesthetic. When Gisele Bündchen visited Brazil in 2007, she spoke about her own experience with beauty pressure. "I never suffered from this problem [anorexia] because I had a very strong family base," she explained to O Globo (via Reuters). "Parents are responsible, not the fashion industry." She went on to tell the newspaper: "Everybody knows that the norm in fashion is thin. But excuse me, there are people born with the right genes for this profession." Bündchen then said, "Everybody knows the standard for models is to be thin. But you can't generalize and say that all models are anorexic."

Her family meant everything because, as she added, "In fashion I felt accepted. ... I never felt lonely because I always relied on my family." While Bündchen's controversial comments might seem limited, Vanity Fair was careful to remind readers that she also brought about some change. Right when the modeling industry was heavily promoting what the outlet dubbed a more "emaciated" look, she "breathed life into the fashion world and brought curves and muscles back into style."

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Gisele Bundchen's 'garbage disposal' comment

For most new mothers, they can expect to take anywhere from six months to a year to lose the baby weight and get back, relatively, to what their bodies looked like before, the Mayo Clinic noted, after gaining a considerable amount of weight during pregnancy. The medical center recommends easing back into exercise through slow walks and gradually working toward "150 minutes of exercise a week."

For Gisele Bündchen, she had a very different experience. For starters, her labor apparently "wasn't painful, not even a little bit," as she said on the show "Fantastico" in Brazil (via People). She also opted out of anesthesia. "I wanted to be conscious and present for what was happening," the model explained. "... I wanted to feel." Following the birth of her son, Benjamin, Bündchen seemingly had a shockingly easy time with her recovery and her post-baby body, with Vogue noting that she did so through doing yoga at home. When asked how this was possible, the supermodel said: "I think it's muscle memory." 

While this is all nice and fine, the real controversy came when Bündchen told Vogue about how much weight she gained while pregnant with Benjamin compared to what others might experience. "I think a lot of people get pregnant and decide they can turn into garbage disposals," she said. "I was mindful about what I ate, and I gained only 30 pounds." Um, ouch.

No couch sitting for Gisele Bundchen

Gisele Bündchen isn't one for sitting around, and she's been candid about how much she loves to stay moving and keep active on a daily basis. "I surf, I horseback ride, so I think I just really enjoy moving my body," she told E! in 2016, adding that she likes to do yoga at home, kung fu, and cycling. "It makes me feel good, and I really make it a priority to do that every day. It's the time I take for myself." She also explained that the benefits can also be emotional, saying, "I think it makes me a better and more patient person overall."

While these benefits are wonderful, Bündchen previously told Elle in 2007 that she's no "potato sack," seemingly implying that those who sit around potentially are? "I love outdoor sports, like volleyball, and I play them whenever I can," she began. "But my secret is that I watch TV maybe twice a year. I'm not a potato sack; I've never sat on my couch. If I'm home, I'm cleaning, feeding my dogs, doing stuff. Life is too precious to waste time." 

She's not kidding about that. Bündchen told E! that she wakes up at 5:30 am and loves going to bed early, so she's not interested in partying and clearly prefers an active life. 

Her infamous football comments

Gisele Bündchen wasn't happy about the New England Patriots losing the Super Bowl XLVI to the New York Giants in 2012. When she was leaving the stadium, Giants fans apparently got a little too vocal as she was walking by, and she decided to defend hubby Tom Brady.

"You need to catch the ball when you're supposed to catch the ball," she said. "My husband cannot f***ing throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can't believe they dropped the ball so many times." Other Patriots players reportedly weren't too impressed with Bündchen's comments, and some felt it infringed the "code of brotherhood" in the NFL, TMZ Sports reported. An insider said that her comments were "like knocking someone when they are down."

But this wasn't the only time Bündchen caught herself in a predicament because of her defense of Brady. At the Super Bowl LII, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Patriots, and to comfort their crying kids, Bündchen said of the Eagles, "They haven't won in a million years," according to USA Today. When daughter Vivian said, "The Eagles won the Super Bowl," Bündchen said, "Just this time. Daddy won five times. They never won before. Their whole life, they never won a Super Bowl. You have to let someone else win sometimes." On Twitter (via Us Weekly), Bündchen said, "Just to be clear. No one 'let' anyone win. People win because of their own merit. [Tired] of people twisting my words to create drama that doesn't exist."

Riding with her infants on quads

In 2014, Gisele Bündchen faced backlash after she was photographed in Costa Rica riding an ATV with no helmet while holding her then-infant daughter, Vivian, with one hand. TMZ Sports reported the situation first, noting that it's actually illegal to not wear a helmet while riding a four-wheeler in the country. However, if she was on a private beach, as the outlet speculates, this could have been permissible. People were concerned about the safety factor of the situation, and her rep reached out to ABC News to say, "Gisele was on a private beach driving very, very slowly."

However, this wasn't the only time the supermodel faced controversy while riding an ATV. While still in Costa Rica, she and husband Tom Brady jumped on a four-wheeler and again had baby Vivian in a sling, according to the Daily Mail, and no one wore helmets. The outlet noted that injuries, specifically head injuries, are common in ATV accidents.

Dr. John Heyworth spoke to the BBC (via the Daily Mail) about the gravity of the situation, saying: "We know that the riders on these quad bikes are at real risk of serious injury and even death because they are seriously unprotected." He added, "We know from experience that head injuries are the biggest killer in these sorts of accidents. So for goodness sake let's protect these riders. It's a simple bit of protection for them that will save lives." It was certainly a risky situation.

Secret plastic surgery strategy

Controversy hit again when Gisele Bündchen flew to Paris to visit a plastic surgeon in 2015. The supermodel and her sister wore burqas, Page Six reported, in order to get in undetected. She was there, allegedly, for breast and eye work, the former procedure chosen after having her two children, a later publication by Page Six noted.

The controversy had many layers to it. First of all, it's illegal for women to wear full burqas in France, but she and her sister wore them. On top of that, Bündchen was spotted because she was wearing sandals, which Muslim women traditionally do not do. People were able to figure out it was her because her driver is a familiar face associated with the model. As Page Six mentioned, he has worked for Bündchen since 2010 and eagle-eyed paparazzi put the details together.

Bündchen later spoke about her breast augmentation in her 2018 memoir "Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life." She wrote, "When I showed up for jobs, some people would make comments, indirectly or more pointedly. 'What happened to your boobs?' they would say, or 'Your boobs have gotten so small!'" The comments made her feel less than and so she opted for augmentation. "Unfortunately, I chose to give attention to the comments I was hearing," the model added. But the experience was an alienating one. "I became uncomfortable with the size of my breasts," she went on. "I felt angry and depressed. Why did I do this to myself?" Bündchen asked. 

Gisele Bundchen's diss on medication

People were not happy with Gisele Bündchen's claims on mental health solutions. In an interview with The Observer in 2020, the supermodel spoke about her early years as a model and her struggles with anxiety. "When I had a panic attack, I thought I was going to die. I was scared. I couldn't breathe," she said. Bündchen explained that she came up with a routine of yoga and clean eating to help herself. "I do it because it makes me feel better. It makes me happier in my life. I make those choices because it gives me something right back," she noted.

When the interviewer said that it might be challenging for people to maintain such a rigorous lifestyle, Bündchen said, "They just have to make the decision of working at it. That's the problem with today's society, people want instant gratification where it's you know: 'I want to do something and [when] I wake up I want to look like this.' I'm like, 'Er, well, you know for me to cure my panic attacks, it took months. I could have taken a pill, but I decided no. I'm going to wake up every morning and I'm going to meditate and do breath work.'"

Her comments received a lot of pushback, unsurprisingly. In an opinion piece for the Independent, the writer explained that appropriate medication, such as antidepressants, are vital for many. Yoga isn't always enough to fix it, though it can sure help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Did she shade younger models about social media?

Gisele Bündchen didn't initially take to social media with ease. Not only that, she didn't have a lot of positive things to say about the phenomenon of self-promotion that's so ubiquitous with younger models. "If it was me, it would only be pictures of sunsets," she told Vogue in 2018. "It's not my generation — I have to be honest about that. I'm older, wiser. If I had to promote myself in the way girls modeling now have to do, forget it. I wouldn't do it."

Her comments sparked some backlash, with some arguing that she was denigrating younger models who arguably need to self-promote since that's the power of social media. On top of that, some find it legitimately fun, and the added exposure can enhance careers. Like it or not, this is the nature of celebrity now.

In response to this pushback, Bündchen jumped on Twitter to apologize. "My intention was simply to express that I come from an older generation and am not technologically savvy," she wrote in part. "I admire the younger generation and their skill to manage all the added demand of social media. I certainly never feel that I am wiser than anyone, and I believe that we are all learning." She certainly seems to have gotten the hang of self-promotion on social media now, with over 18 million followers on Instagram.