It’s been a busy week for pop star Justin Bieber. Actor Orlando Bloom threw a punch at the singer during a “heated exchange” outside a nightclub in Ibiza, fueling a tabloid frenzy. Things have calmed down for Bieber since then and he’s spent the past few days on a luxury yacht with friends. One of those friends is 23-year-old Victoria’s Secret model Shanina Shaik, an Australian of Lithuanian-Pakistani-Saudi descent.
Unfamiliar with Shaik until now? Here’s everything you need to know.
1. Her mixed heritage made growing up in Australia difficult, and still prompts questions about her background.
“Being a darker skin color meant I was treated horribly when I was growing up,” she said in an interview earlier this year. “With my career most people ask me where I’m from and when I say Australia they always follow-up with, ‘But where are you really from?’ It’s so sad. Because I’m not Caucasian with blonde hair, I can’t be Australian?”
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2. If she hadn’t become a model, she would have studied child psychology.
Shortly after walking the Victoria’s Secret catwalk for the first time three years ago, Shaikh told The Cut that her interest in the subject was deeply personal. “I was actually bullied in high school. It was more mental bullying, which can be harsher than physical,” she said. “A lot of people don’t understand. They’re like, ‘You’re pretty, you didn’t get bullied!’”
3. She likes taking selfies.
Shaik’s Instagram account is populated mostly by self-portraits, with a sprinkling of inspirational quotes. Here’s a sampling.
4. She got her big break on reality television.
Shaik decided to audition for Make Me A Supermodel Australia as a 17-year-old in 2008. She wound up finishing second to the male model Rhys Uhlich.
5. Justin Bieber really wants you to know that the pair are just friends.
While both Bieber and Shaik haven’t been shy about posting photos of their trip, they reject any suggestion of romantic involvement. “Don't even start with dating rumors,” Bieber wrote in a photo caption this week.