The degree of popularity of these in-demand siblings can be traced back to their mum, but it goes beyond desirable genetics.

Bella Hadid insists that the best advice she can give to aspiring models is “just be yourself.” She knows it sounds corny, and it’s not the kind of advice that will help you land the cover of Vogue or a spot on Marc Jacobs’ runway, but she swears it’s the kind of advice that will help you land the cover of Vogue or a spot on the Marc Jacobs runway.She explained to Teen Vogue last year after walking in Brandon Maxwell’s New York Fashion Week show, “I’ve seen so many of my peers finally build up the courage to let their personalities shine through, and it’s the best part about them. Sometimes people try to get put into a box, and there are no boxes here.”You may have a less-than-ideal walk or an unusual appearance, but if you work hard, make investments, and build the right relationships, you have a chance. “If someone wants to pursue modeling and it’s their passion, then go for it,” she said.

It certainly helps to have Bella’s cheekbones, which seem to have been cut to sell Dior makeup, and her slim, 5-foot-9 frame that makes every haute couture item seem completely wearable. But the 23-year-old’s journey from Beverly Hills star to runway must-have (she and sister Gigi Hadid, 24, are now synonymous with every fashion week, whether in New York, Milan, or Paris) wasn’t the most traditional.

To be fair, the Hadid sisters weren’t discovered or credited as fresh-faced, waif-like unknowns in a shopping mall in Iowa. Their parents’ very presence ensured their fame (before trying her hand at reality TV, Yolanda Hadid was a model, and their father Mohamed Hadid is a real estate mogul who had a cameo on the Bravo hit long before his ex). As a result, they had no choice but to pursue a new strategy.

They had no intention of being reality stars in the first place. “I wasn’t trying to get popular by being on the show,” Bella explained to Elle about her Housewives appearances. “What I wanted to do was make my mother happy.” However, it undeniably lifted both of their profiles at precisely the time that they were attempting to break into the modeling world. Their presence on television translated into Instagram followers, but it certainly helped that a Saturday night out with friends might result in snaps with Kendall Jenner, Miley Cyrus, and Hailey Baldwin. Soon, they were both amassing millions of followers and a major credit score—Gigi has 50 million, Bella has about 26—and the majority of them were of the young female type, which fashion brands admired.

After a few rejections from short-sighted agencies who saw her as too curvy, Gigi got her big break in spring 2014, when Carine Roitfeld placed her on the cover of CR Fashion Book, which she cites as her big break. She went on to star in a Tom Ford commercial, and before you knew it, she was so entrenched in the industry that you forgot she wasn’t walking at New York Fashion Week. Bella made her New York Fashion Week debut in the fall of 2014 before landing her first credit solo fashion magazine cover in the December issue of Jalouse.

Some have scoffed at their popularity, which has been created in ways that could not have been imagined in the pre-social media period, when the word “supermodel” was coined. Others, on the other hand, see it as a simple case of making do with what Mama (and the Internet) has provided. Their credited reality TV experience is being used against them in the notoriously closed industry. “These girls could never have walked into an agency and had a fair shot if they hadn’t done it for themselves,” casting director James Scully, who put Bella on Tom Ford’s runway in 2015, told Elle. “They remind me of Cindy Crawford, the old-school girl. They’ve given the company a new lease on life.”

Yolanda deserves credit for allowing them time to find out who they were before they were forced to appear in front of cameras, both fashion and paparazzi. They certainly did their fair share of pretending to be tweens, with the Dutch model unable to fight the temptation to see whether her offspring inherited her innate charisma. “I’ve been photographing my children since they were born,” she said on Today Extra in Australia. “I used to dress them up and shoot them on the horses at the stable.”

She and her sister have established and credit themselves as some of the industry’s most in-demand faces over the years, but they remain the same hardworking, punctual, and friendly models that designers know they can count on. “She never loses her cool,” Michael Kors said of Bella to The New York Post. “She brushed herself off and just kept walking, no drama,” he recalled of her fall at his spring 2017 show, the only acknowledgment of her fall coming later on Twitter, when she posted, “Guys I’m a professional break dancer now I forgot to tell u.” “She is a true professional, even at her young age,” Kors added.

Consider the moment in 2016 when she was asked to walk the Victoria’s Secret runway while ex-boyfriend The Weeknd played. She strutted effortlessly past in lingerie that left nothing to the imagination, prompting envious women everywhere to declare, “Yup, that’s how you should run into a former paramour.”And, yes, having her bestie backstage to motivate her helped. Because of their different looks (Scott characterized Gigi to Elle as having a “beautiful doll face,” while Bella is striking and “chiseled from perfection”), they’re rarely up for the same work, which means their competition is almost non-existent.