Irina Shayk is internationally known for her beauty and sensuality, but it wasn’t always that way. As a youngster, the Russian model suffered from “ugly duckling” syndrome and wished she were a boy, she reveals in a new interview. Fortunately, she grew out of it.

Shayk, 30, was raised in Yemanzhelinsk, a small Russian village. Her real name is Irina Valeryevna Shaykhlislamova.

Her father was a coal miner; her mother a kindergarten music teacher. She sent Irina to a music school, hoping she would follow in her footsteps.

Their life was simple, she recalls in an interview with GQ Italia

“Trips with my family in the woods to pick mushrooms, dinner with my parents, going with my dad in the garage to watch while repairing our car,” are some of the “good memories.” she says.

But inside, she had a different view of herself.

“I was never even thought to be particularly pretty,” she says, according to a rough translation. “At 14, I would have given I do not know what to be a boy.”

Her father died the same year from pneumonia, leaving the family destitute. Her mother worked two jobs to make ends meet.

“I thought I was horrible and not pleasing to anyone. I hated the little pink dresses and flowers that my mom made me wear,” she adds.

Then, when she was 19, she moved to the city to study marketing, only to drop out.

“My sister asked me to join her in another city where she was taking a beautician course.” Irina signed up as well. Next door, however, was a modeling agency and “I was discovered, quite by accident,” she says.

The agency urged her to participate in the “Miss Chelyabinsk 2004” beauty contest. She won. Irina had blossomed into a swan.

Her rise after that was meteoric.

Within three years, she replaced Brazilian supermodel Ana Beatriz Barros as the face of fashion brand Intimissimi. She debuted in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue the same year and has appeared in every issue since. She landed the cover in 2011.

A year earlier she was signed to rep for the Armani Exchange spring/summer 2010 campaign. She met soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo on a photo shoot and they dated for five years.

They broke up last year. She rebounded with actor Bradley Cooper and have been dating ever since.