Doutzen Kroes on Looks, Motherhood, and...Orangutans


Photo: c/o Calvin Klein

Yes, Doutzen Kroes is almost inconceivably beautiful. She’s also intelligent, humble, and deeply thoughtful, especially considering we’re talking to the Dutch model and mother of two (a three-year-old boy and two-month-old girl) about being the new face—and body—of Calvin Klein’s new fragrance, Reveal. “It’s almost a complement to your own body scent,” she says of the perfume. “It has a hint of salt, almost like sweat. It’s human.” Turns out, so’s she.

Kroes spilled her thoughts on everything from career regrets to motherhood to orangutans in her delightful interview. 

Did you pick up any beauty tricks while shooting this campaign?
Well, over the years, I’ve picked up a lot of beauty tricks: curling your eyelashes, contouring your face. I love makeup. I love doing it if I have time. I had a friend who came over and said, “Wow, you’re wearing a lot of makeup. Were you just at work?” And I said, “No, I was just in the bathroom.” 

Has your beauty routine changed since you’ve become a mother?
Yeah, because I don’t have the time anymore. With one kid, it was okay. Now, I’m happy if I get to take a shower. I appreciate it more when I get makeup done. If I’m working, it’s very nice. I get to go home and my husband will be there, and I come home with makeup on. It’s almost like I’m a different woman. 

And you get a break from being the caretaker! Someone is taking care of you for a change.
As a model, when you have a kid, it’s actually really nice coming back to work because you’re getting hair and makeup. You feel pretty again, you know? Most moms don’t get that. They go to work, or they’re full-time parents. It’s a treat, and I appreciate it.

As far as eating and fitness, how do you stay healthy?
Well, I have always eaten healthy — even more so when I was pregnant, because I was thinking about what I was putting into my body and what my baby was eating. I try to stay away from processed foods and refined sugars. I’ve done it my whole life because my mom and dad were mindful of raising us healthy. I think that has a lot to do with getting back into shape. My body has been healthy my whole life, so it knows how to get back to its old shape pretty fast.

Were your parents unusual in that way? Or is that approach the norm in Holland?
Yeah. Here in the States, people eat out a lot, especially in New York where they order delivery. In Holland, we have restaurants, but people are like, “Why should I go to a restaurant if I can cook myself?” They don’t like to spend money in that way. Regular families go out for dinner maybe once every six months. They don’t eat out. It’s fun, too, sometimes more fun than going to a restaurant.

You’ve been modeling for a decade. What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
Well, when people say you should enjoy what you’re doing, you’re young — so you say, “Yeah, yeah, whatever.” I’ve enjoyed it, but life always teaches you after the fact. Even now, with my second kid, I’m like, “Oh my god, I have to enjoy it more, because I know how fast the first one went.” I’m more aware of enjoying her. It’s the same with anything else in life. Youth is wasted on the young, they say. I wish I had enjoyed my teenage years a little bit more.

What has been one of the most challenging moments of your career?
The first few weeks of a model apartment. Girls would use my stuff. There would be a note like, “Oh, I’m just using your bag for a day.” I had to get used to that. Living in an apartment with girls I didn’t know and being in a city I didn’t know — I was very homesick. That was hard.

If you weren’t a model, what would you be doing?
I think I would be working for World Wildlife Federation or something like that. I would love to be in Borneo with orangutans. Once, I held a baby orangutan in Malaysia and it was such an amazing feeling. I would be doing something with animals or women’s rights. I would love to do something like that. I could still do it.

Because people are aware of who you are—is that the best part of having an influence?
Yeah. I’m very involved with an international charity called Dance4Life. We teach youth through dance and music, in a positive way, how to protect themselves against HIV and AIDS. It changes a lot when I get on stage or talk with them. They think, “Oh, a Victoria’s Secret model!” So they listen to what I have to say about safe sex. It’s such a sensitive subject. Because when you’re talking about AIDS, you also have to talk about sex. In a lot of cultures, it’s hard to do that. Even here.

Especially here.
Yes. In Philadelphia, the infection rates are going up instead of down. You would think that people would know [prevention skills] by now, but people also think, “I won’t get it. HIV is a faraway story.” 

Younger generations didn’t live through the AIDS crisis in the ’80s so it doesn’t seem as threatening.
That, too. Now you can live if you have HIV — fortunately! But [HIV] doesn’t scare them anymore, so I’m very involved with Dance4Life.

Shifting gears, I’ve always wondered, what is it like when you have so many people telling you that you’re the pinnacle of beauty?
After a while, you don’t listen to it anymore. I also think that people just say that, you know? To be polite. 

What makes you feel really beautiful?
I feel beautiful when I’m happy. But to me, beauty is nature; being in nature is the most important thing. Meanwhile, I’m living in New York! But I love going upstate. 

Does it ever feel like people don’t see beyond your looks? At fashion week, I see younger models being treated like things, not people.
Oh yeah. That’s why, when people ask me if I want my daughter to be a model, I say if she really wants to, okay. But I wouldn’t push her, because it’s not an easy for a girl to be treated as an object. I was 18 when I started; I wasn’t so young. I had already matured, I had a great childhood, and I was my own person. But if you’re becoming your person being in fashion, it must be hard. 

Every single human has moments of insecurity. When you have yours, how do you build your confidence to go forward?
It’s just a switch that I turn off. I just don’t think about it. I was more insecure when I was younger. When you grow up, you care less about what other people think. 

Oh, you’re going to like your thirties, then.
That’s what they say! And the forties are supposed to be even better. My mom is turning 60 and she feels so comfortable in her skin. It’s amazing to have a confident mother as a role model. She’s not insecure, and she’s not frustrated about getting older. It’s great to have that as an example.

That can be powerful for you, but also for your children — a lineage of strong and confident women.
Yes, and to not be afraid to age, even though I’m in this industry where people are watching and I’m being judged all the time. That’s why I don’t read all the social media comments! But I’ve also taught myself not to pay attention to people that I don’t care about. When somebody I care about tells me something isn’t good, I care and I listen. But if somebody random tells me something, I try not to take it too seriously. I also take the compliments less seriously, because otherwise I would be not as down to earth. I only take compliments from people I care about.