The model is self-isolating in Los Angeles with her son, who has special needs, as well as her fiancé and several family members - and shares the unique challenges and joys of the situation

By People Staff and Morgan M. Evans
May 04, 2020 04:07 PM
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Victoria's Secret Model Lais Ribeiro models the 2017 Fantasy Bra

Lais Ribeiro is used to living the model lifestyle — often jetsetting around the world for work. But now, the now the 29-year-old is grounded at home amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, spending time under one roof with her son, fiancé and multiple family members.  The Victoria's Secret Angel opens up about adjusting to her stay-at-home life in Los Angeles, and shares the challenges of homeschooling her son, who is autistic, while adapting to domestic duties and finding time for self-care. 

I live in New York but with everything going on, I decided to come out here to Los Angeles, where my fiancé Joakim Noah is. I came with my mom, my son and my sister, and it’s been really nice to be out here and have a lot of people with me. 

We flew out here in mid-March with everything — gloves, masks, disinfectant —all we needed to prepare for the plane. The flight was packed with people leaving New York for L.A.  I even ran into one of my makeup artists. Everybody was just a little lost and didn't know what to expect. 

I admit that I'm a girl who wasn't domesticated before. I guess I didn't have time to do things at home because I travel so much for work. It’s nice now to have more time to be with my family and to learn how to cook and to be closer to my son. 

We talk so much more now because I have time. I have a great support system around me but trust me, I put everyone to work. My sister cooks really well. I don't really know how to cook, but I'm learning now with my mom and my sister. I clean the house all the time — the house cleaning never ends.

We’ve also started homeschooling my son, who is 11 years old and in sixth grade. His school is one-on-one, which makes my life much easier — he does a full school day of Zoom calls with his teacher every day. 

I do homework with him and let me tell you, it’s really hard. My mom, my grandma and my two other aunties are all teachers and I already knew their struggle, but now I feel like I'm in that position.

My son is special needs and doesn't learn the way the other kids learn, so it's a different type of teaching. I'm also learning with him because I'm not American, so I'm interested in all American history and stuff. I'm not great at math so my fiancé helps him out with that.

I help him with science and history, but sometimes I have to cheat and go on Google and see if I understand and can try to teach him somehow, or I send emails to his teachers. They help me a lot. I'm so grateful for them. The first few weeks, he was struggling a little bit, but now he's got a routine. He sits in the same spot every day — it's kind of like his office or his classroom. 

I try to keep a routine for myself as well. I work out through FaceTime with my trainer in New York. There are still a lot of people reaching out to me and asking to do quarantine skincare routines and workouts, but I'm really using this time to focus on my family because this is such a unique experience. I've never had this time to really eat healthy and take care of my body — I did before, but not as much as I'm doing right now because that's all I have is time. I’m just really spending time taking care of myself.

What’s going to happen to the fashion industry as a result of all of this is something I keep asking myself: “What is going to happen in the future? Am I going to be able to still be a model?” The good thing is that we have social media, so now models can do campaigns through Instagram, but it’s really upsetting that a lot of the businesses have to just halt right now.

This time has been full of ups and downs. 

One of my worst days was when I first saw the news of lockdown while I was still in New York. I was scared of not being able to get out of New York or go back to Brazil to see family members. I started to cry. I started to think about so many things.

I had done this TV show in Brazil … it's almost the same as America's Next Top Model, but features transgender models. That time was so special to me and I thought about those models because they had just started to work. Campaigns for the show had started in Brazil and then all of this happened.

Some of the models are really struggling now — I recently reached out and some of them don't have any money to eat or anything. It's so sad. They even said, "We can't even be prostitutes because of the [human] contact." In countries like Brazil, people who are transgender are still heavily discriminated against and may turn to being sex workers to make money. But due to the virus, that’s not even an option. That's how bad it is right now. 

I wanted to do something to help them, so I sent a bunch of supplies like masks and basic food necessities to Brazil for the transgender community. 

Once I got out to the West Coast, one of my best days was when we took the car and drove to my friend's house in Joshua Tree in the middle of the desert. There was no one around. We just got to enjoy nature, we made fires every day and watched the sky…it was just so beautiful. I had never seen stars like that before. It was so nice to be in the mountains and see the sunset and be with my family — my son loved being outside and climbing the rocks. He was crying, like, "Mom, I really needed this." But not only him, it was something we all needed.  

  • As told to Morgan Evans