Olivia Culpo gets candid on Emergency Contact podcast with her sister Aurora, who explained that Olivia's struggles as a preteen ultimately helped her build the confidence she has today
Olivia Culpo
Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty

When Olivia Culpo graces the pages of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue or walks the red carpet, she exudes the utmost confidence. But before her life in the spotlight, Culpo admits that she grew up feeling like an "ugly duckling."

Comparing herself to her "beautiful" siblings and parents, Culpo, 28, said she felt like the outcast in her family. "Honestly growing up I felt really ugly which is a terrible thing to say," Olivia recalled during an appearance with sister Aurora Culpo on the Emergency Contact podcast hosted by Simon Huck and Melissa Gray Washington.

"I was really different looking. My older sister looked like the Barbie doll. I was overweight. I had to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘Okay, you’re different,’ because I was," Olivia continued.

Olivia Culpo/Instagram
Olivia Culpo as a child.
| Credit: Olivia Culpo/Instagram

Olivia and Aurora both recalled that when Olivia was 10 years old, their dad, Peter Culpo, put her on a diet.

"Our dad is amazing but our dad is like, Type A and has run over a dozen marathons," Olivia said. "When I was 10 years old, yeah, I was put on those diets and I kind of realized, when you put in the work you get the results. It kind of all started from there."

Olivia Culpo
Olivia Culpo
| Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty

Aurora explained that Olivia's struggles as a preteen ultimately helped her build the confidence she has today.

"She knew that she was overweight, so I think that she developed a skill for situating herself in situations where she would get the most attention. And then she got hot and she had that skill. That’s how you get on Sports Illustrated," Aurora said.

In the past, Olivia has opened up to her fans about her battle with depression, and how not everything is what it may seem on social media. In July 2019, she shared two photos on Instagram detailing her experience.

“Looking at the difference between these two photos today, and thought it was important to share something with all of you. 2nd photo, a few months ago: I was depressed. I had no appetite, was drinking way too much, smoking, couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t eat,” she admitted of the second photo, which showed a paler, thinner Culpo pouting for the camera.

Olivia Culpo
Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty

“But I was still taking photos on social media and pretending everything was great. I was going through a difficult situation that left me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually bankrupt and it had taken its toll physically,” she continued. “The feeling of despair is a relatable one, so I feel a responsibility to anyone else going through something difficult to say that it’s ok to not be ok.”

“1st photo is from the other day, and I am looking healthier. I have my appetite back and am treating my body correctly,” she added of the other selfie that features Culpo with more color in her face and appearing healthier overall.

She concluded her post by explaining that embracing imperfections will help connect us all.

“I hope this helps others who might be going through a hard time and feeling like they need to ‘have it all together.’ Social media can create a crazy amount of pressure to live up to an idealistic standard of ‘perfection’ (which obviously doesn’t exist!),” she said at the time.