We’re excited to continue our new series, The Close-Up, where we take a closer look at celebrities, influencers, and pop culture phenomena. You’ve read about them on the internet and clipped their photos out of magazines—but now you’ll have the chance to get to know them personally through fun Polaroids, handwritten beauty advice, product recommendations, and so much more.
It takes me all of 30 seconds after meeting Taylor Hill to realize she isn't like any other It girl I've ever met. She's breezy, funny, and most significantly, relatable. Not the ultra-curated, veneered "cool-girl," I went to In-N-Out after this major red carpet and look, here's the Instagram to prove it kind of relatable, but actually relatable. For example, during our 10-minute chat, I'll learn that Hill played saxophone and clarinet in her high school marching band, harbors an undying love for Hot Cheetos, and is incredibly proficient at bird calls. Given that the 20-year-old has seen her career skyrocket to astronomical heights over the past couple of years—hell-o, Victoria's Secret—it's remarkable and refreshing to learn that she's so grounded in the whirlwind.
"I think it has a lot to do with who you surround yourself with," Hill offers as explanation. "I have a really big family and really great friends, and I just like to surround myself with them and try to keep as normal of a life as I possibly can." (Hill's family lives in Colorado, where she grew up and was discovered—in a barn—at age 14.) "Fashion month is really exhausting, and that's probably when you become the most unlike yourself," she says. "It's always really refreshing to go home and see your friends and know that your life's not that hard and it's all going to be fine."
Of course, it helps that she has friends and mentors to guide her along while on the job as well. Modeling may have a reputation for being a cutthroat gig—especially for fresh faces—but Hill insists that she immediately bonded with some of the more seasoned Victoria's Secret Angels. "They're such kind, really smart women, and that's something that you can easily connect with. When I met all of them it was instantly like, Oh my God, these people are amazing. All of them give us really great advice and even the new ones—like Jasmine and Martha—they've worked with Victoria's Secret for three or four years before they were Angels, they all just kind of say the same thing: You should always be humble, be kind, be yourself, don't take it for granted."
Interestingly enough, the industry also transformed the way Hill saw her body… for the better. After all, it wasn't until she began modeling that she learned to celebrate her lanky 5'9" frame, something that had been a source of grade school bullying. "I used to hate my body and I thought I was really ugly," she admits. "I was so not confident, and becoming a model—and especially a VS girl—has really changed my perspective on who I am. It's kind of given me a new light: You're beautiful no matter what you look like, no matter what body type you have. I always envied curvy women, because I wasn't that. The grass is always greener, and you'll always have to deal with that. But being a model has helped me embrace my own body type. It's hard on some girls, but it actually helped me a lot."
Of course, her lingerie-centric main gig requires some fine-tuning, and Hill eats and works out accordingly—which has turned out to be yet another learning experience in itself. "I used to do a lot of weight training, lifting and things like that," she says. "It was really difficult, which I liked, but then I realized I wasn't really getting the results that I wanted. You have to drink gnarly protein shakes and all of that to build that muscle, especially when you're as tall as me. I'm like, I can't develop muscle, it's just not working!" Nowadays, she frequents one-on-one sessions at ModelFit. "I have to use a trainer because I cheat in classes," she admits. "I'm a natural-born cheater. I cheat on everything—I cheated on tests (don't tell my teachers), I cheat workouts, I eat whatever I want! So I just needed someone to watch me and make sure I'm doing it correctly. When I have an hour I just want to give everything I have to that and hour, like, really work out.
"We do a lot of slow, muscle-targeting movements with gliding discs and two-pound weights. Almost kind of floor pilates in a way, because we get on the floor and she puts resistance bands around my ankles and things like that. It's so hard—it doesn't sound hard and it doesn't look hard, but I could back squat, like, 85 pounds, and I quiver when I do this. I'm like, Oh my God, I can't stand up anymore because I'm so sore! It's amazing."
Still, getting in shape is just one part of the equation, and I wonder aloud how Hill keeps the skin on her arms and legs VS-ready. "I like to use scrubby gloves three times a week in the shower—they're like little loofahs you put on your hands. I also love Victoria's Secret's Coconut Milk Weightless Oil ($18), specifically because of the scent—you don't get that with the coconut oil you buy at say, Trader Joe's." As for her face, her regimen is fairly low-key: She just swears by CeraVe's Foaming Facial Cleanser ($11) to keep makeup-related breakouts at bay. "I use it in the shower because my dermatologist told me it's good to wash your face in there—the steam opens up your pores and it really gets in your skin," she says. "When I get out, I splash my face with hot water and then again with cold water."
It's time for Hill to return to her hotel—speaking of whirlwinds, she's on the tail-end of a trip to LA to promote Victoria's Secret's new bralette—but I'm not about to let her escape without first demanding the secret to Those Brows. As my rational brain could have guessed, the answer is simple: It's genetics. (A part of me might have hoped that the model uses some top-secret growth serum or supercharged biotin, but no dice.) "I just try and make sure that I don't let anyone pluck them too much, because I used to not do anything to them at all and they grow out really crazy," she says. "A lot of people want to pluck them and shape them or make them something, but it's better for me and my face to just let them be."