Chrissy Teigen doesn’t hold back.
If you’re one of the 22 million people who follow the model-turned-mogul on Twitter or Instagram, chances are you know this already. Teigen’s goofy, witty, and occasionally raunchy revelations—on topics ranging from her rogue bikini line to the time she hangover-vomited into a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos—are like an online master class in keeping it real, circa 2017. True, as I drive to my interview with Teigen on a summer afternoon in Los Angeles, I’m aware that some skepticism is in order, that in this age of meticulous self-branding, so-called authenticity is often just another pose. But Teigen serves up ample evidence that her trademark openness comes naturally.
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First, there’s her choice of venue: Instead of meeting at the Chateau Marmont or at L.A.’s latest vegan hot spot, she wants me to come hang at her house. (That would be Rihanna’s former place, a sleek five-bedroom high on a ridge in Beverly Hills.) When I pull into the driveway and her security guard walks me inside, Teigen looks up from the kitchen sink, where she’s been cleaning out the ears of 19-month-old Luna, her daughter with singer-songwriter John Legend. Within five minutes she’s giving me a tour of her bedroom and closet and even her bathroom, where the toilet is equipped with a motion sensor so that the lid pops up as soon as we walk in. (“It knows me!” she mock-boasts.) Teigen has recently admitted to cutting back on drinking, yet we’re both deep into a glass of rosé when she makes the first of several mentions of her uterus, telling me that it will soon be implanted with a frozen embryo, as she and Legend attempt to have a second child using IVF.
“Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m oversharing,” says Teigen, 32, before we move on to the subject of her anti-depressant medication.
Whatever Teigen’s strategy (or lack of one), it’s clearly working. Since her début in 2010 as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, she has turned herself into not just an Internet sensation but also a food guru and TV co-host—she’s currently on Lip Sync Battle alongside LL Cool J—with an assortment of fashion and beauty gigs on the side. Most recently these include a buzzy makeup collaboration with Becca Cosmetics for the brand’s Glow Face Palette—containing blush, highlighter, and bronzer shades Teigen selected—as well as a Revolve clothing collection with instruction labels featuring irreverent one-liners like “pls send nudes.”
If her range of ventures can be highly unpredictable (there are also partnerships with Smirnoff vodka and McDonald’s), what ties it all together is Teigen’s endearingly imperfect, unglossy, un-Gwynethy take on things: Every activity begins and ends with a joke, and the joke is usually funny. In 2016 she released a cookbook, Cravings, that was the year’s second best seller behind Ina Garten’s Cooking for Jeffrey. It featured whimsical disclaimers like, “Half the recipes in this book feel like they were either developed BY people with a bogus medical marijuana card or FOR them.” She’s working on the follow-up now.
LOLs aside, does Teigen’s chutzpah sometimes create complications for her? Yes. Will she tell me all about them as she sits on her sofa in a pair of torn R13 denim shorts and thigh-high brown leather Saint Laurent boots? Also yes.
Late last year Teigen temporarily made her Twitter account private “for my mental health,” she says. The platform’s unavoidable mean streak just became “too much to handle. I really do understand why some people never post anything, ever.” Though many people interpret Teigen’s irreverence as a sure sign of fearlessness, she recognizes that it’s also a classic defense mechanism. Often, she says, “it stops people from coming at me. If you share everything and make fun of yourself, then other people won’t make the joke, because you’ve already made it.”
One of the rare celebrities who actually respond to her online haters, Teigen is famous for her sassy clapbacks. (When someone tried to shame her on Instagram for going out to dinner 10 days after her daughter was born, asking, “How’s baby Luna?” Teigen wrote back, “I dunno I can’t find her.”) And in one case Teigen has done some trolling of her own, with the president of the United States as her target. She began taunting Donald Trump about nine years ago, when Twitter was still in its infancy and Trump was mainly occupied with things like The Apprentice and the Miss USA Pageant. “I’ve truly disliked him as a human for that long,” she says. “So imagine how it felt when he got elected president.” In December 2015 Trump hit back at Teigen by retweeting someone else’s opinion that she was “trashy” and not as beautiful as his wife, Melania. This past July, after Teigen tweeted at him “lol no one likes you,” Trump had finally had it and blocked Teigen outright. Nowadays, if she wants to read one of his tweets on her phone, “I have to have John screenshot it to me,” she says. “Like, that’s our president!”
Lately, both online and in person, her main focus has been motherhood. With Luna taking her first stabs at walking and talking, Teigen and Legend are still in that phase when they’ll go to a restaurant for what’s supposed to be a romantic dinner and spend the whole time marveling over whatever cute thing their daughter did that day.
The two met in 2007, when Teigen was cast in the video for Legend’s song “Stereo.” They married six years later. Although both are natural-born performers, when Legend is not onstage he’s a quiet, mellow, and somewhat geeky musician who’s pretty much Teigen’s opposite. (In his hit song “All of Me,” which is really about his wife, he asks, “What would I do without your smart mouth?”) If there’s a key to making their marriage work, Teigen says, it’s knowing when and how to “make each other’s loves and needs feel important.” In this respect, Teigen admits that she probably gets the better end of the deal. “I’m much luckier to have John’s personality in my life than he is to have mine,” she says, letting out one of her frequent high-pitched giggles. “He is insanely patient and such a dork, and he loves seeing me happy, even if that means watching The Real Housewives of Dallas with me for two and a half hours.” On her end, “I mean, I don’t care about half the s— he’s doing either. But there’s a balance. If he’s watching MSNBC and is excited about something, then I’ve got to be in that realm.”
The pair have been open about their struggles to conceive and their plans to use IVF to have more children. Teigen tells me she now wishes she had extracted more eggs during her round of fertility treatments a few years ago. She and Legend started with about 20 embryos, and after checking for imperfections and narrowing them down to the ones that “you know are going to be good for your body,” they were left with three. “The first little girl didn’t work, and then the second is Luna,” she says. The third is the one they will transfer to her womb in the coming months.
One of the rare pieces of news that Teigen initially kept to herself was her battle with postpartum depression. At first she didn’t fully understand the condition and didn’t think she had a right to experience it, let alone discuss it, given that Luna was healthy and happy and their circumstances were as privileged as could be. “I thought I was just being a selfish a—hole,” Teigen says. But when it reached the point that she was spending her days on the sofa with the curtains closed, rubbing her painful joints, a doctor finally made the diagnosis.
“It wasn’t just a mental thing of, you know, ‘I’m sad,’ ” she says. “I actually couldn’t move.” After she figured out the right type and dosage of medication, things got much better, but Teigen still feels different from how she did before pregnancy, and she’s prepared to feel worse again if she has another baby. “I have really good days and really bad days, and I don’t tend to talk about the really bad days,” she says. “But I would hate for people to think those days didn’t exist.”
As Teigen and I are winding down, a few of her friends, including her manager, Luke Dillon, show up at the house. Luna is upstairs napping, and Teigen has scheduled two successive private classes in her kitchen: a dessert demo with L.A. pastry chef Chris Ford and a design workshop with florist Yasmine Mei. But with Teigen in charge, these “classes” quickly devolve into something more like recess. The group splits into teams that drolly trash-talk each other while competing to see who can create the best bouquet from the flowers Mei has set out on the counter. The one Teigen crafts with Dillon, made up of tight clusters of pink roses and stems of puffy green pods known as “monkey balls” (Teigen’s favorites, of course), turns out a lot like its creator: eye-catching, improvised, vaguely illicit. Mei points out that Teigen has cut her stems so short, they don’t even reach the water in their vase—obviously a florist’s no-no. Teigen, however, pronounces herself satisfied and begins looking around the house for the best place to display the arrangement.
“Seriously, I think it’s so pretty,” Teigen says. She laughs and adds, “It will be dead within a day.”
Photographer: Carter Smith for Copious Management. Fashion editor: Elizabeth Stewart. Hair: Teddy Charles for The Wall Group. Makeup: Daniel Martin for The Wall Group. Manicure: Kimmie Kyees for Orly and Celestine Agency. Production: Tyler Duuring for Avenue B.