How to make (at least!) a fraction of Gisele Bündchen's billion dollar salary

The fact that Brazilian beauty Gisele Bündchen has earned herself multiple titles —Victoria's Secret angel, fashion designer, philanthropist, businesswoman, etc. — and balances it all with her role as a mother is already something to admire.

Superstar husband Tom Brady is just the icing on the cake when it comes to this independent, successful woman who is a powerhouse of her own. That's right! The 5'11" beauty doesn't need to worry about "combined household earnings" when she files her taxes this year, as she is set to become the first billionaire supermodel. I raise my glass to Gisele, and say ¡felicidades!, and then pause to ask myself: How does a Latina make it big in today's world without Gisele's looks?


Mind you, when I say make it big, I'm not quite referring to big in the Gisele Bundchen sense of the word. I mean make it big in the sense of plain competing fair and square in the salary game in a world still very much "macho". As she adds zeros to her net worth (how she manages to find the time to do that and stay in shape and looking so absolutely gorgeous is beyond me!), the rest of us Latinas are counting cents in our bi-weekly paychecks to make sure we have enough for the essentials, and if we're lucky maybe even manage to afford our standing appointment at the beauty salon.

Let me remind you that while women in general have been earning more bachelor's and master's degrees than men since the early 80's, the wage gap persists. A woman's median weekly earnings were just about 80% of men's in 2009. "Latina's earnings were 58.7 percent of all men's earnings in 2010", according to a report by the National Committee on Pay Equity. (More about this this on April 17 as we unite in Equal Pay Day.) 

The fact is, there is a lot we can do to keep at it and change the numbers game in our favor. Let's take inspiration from Gisele (her breathtaking beauty aside)

1. Be more versatile than ever and open to opportunities no matter what disguise they might come in.

2. Surround yourself with smart people that will give you good advice.

3. Offset the bad with the good. (It took Gisele a while to get picked up by an agency at first because many would say her nose was too big and look at how good she looks on the runway! Nose and all!)

4. Be confident and ACT confident regardless of the situation you´re presented with.

At any job, anywhere, these qualities will take you farther than you might think possible.

What are your greatest challenges as a Latina to make it in your industry or field?

Image via Bob Bekian/flickr