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Natalia Vodianova at the Christian Dior Haute Couture show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 3, 2017 in Paris, France.
But Vodianova says that aged 21, she felt her gilded life needed more meaning. “When it didn’t have purpose, my life was a little bit hard. When I became very successful… for a short period of time it’s really fun. The world is your oyster; you can do whatever you want. You are invited everywhere, you just pick and choose. And everything is so fun and fabulous,” she told CNBC’s “Trailblazers,” while showing anchor Tania Bryer around Moscow.
“You cannot just suddenly stop and say now, at age 21, now I do nothing and I just enjoy the rest of my life. Well it’s not me, it’s not who I am… I was really unhappy… I was questioning, why did I have this (past) and why do I have this success now, why such extremes?”
After the Beslan school siege in 2004 when 186 children died, Vodianova felt she had to do something to help and set up the Naked Heart Foundation, a charity that builds accessible playgrounds as well as support centers for parents of children with special needs. She looked to her past to work out what would be important for the children’s futures. “It was driven by a heart. It was just a reaction to a great tragedy at the time… I was questioning why not me. And that’s when I really connected with my cause, I went back to my childhood and I said: what was really lacking?”
“I had my mother’s love and felt pretty safe as a child with that. However, the play, I needed that… So many children live in Russia, in the world, with some kind of trauma, difficulties… And every child, just for healthy development, needs to play.”