Last weekend, love was on some minds and everyone’s newsfeed. It had me wondering if maybe Instagram had released a new filter called “Valentine’s Day,” one whose effect added an airbrush and twinkle in the eye to every young couple in love.
On a routine scroll through Facebook, one couple caught me by surprise. It was Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bundchen sharing a sweet Valentine’s kiss, both wearing goofy ladybug headbands with sparkly red hearts on the end. For such an attractive couple, the picture was shockingly ordinary. But stripped of all of their glamor, the pair looked like they belonged together.
Driven by my jealousy of Gisele, I then started to think. I don’t know a lot about sports, but when it comes to Tom versus Gisele—who won? Is Tom overlooking Gisele’s tendency to make controversial comments about raising children? Or was it Tom who scraped by and managed to land the model (despite having deflated balls)?
Before Gisele met Tom, it seemed like she was going to be the breadwinner of the family. Tom was the hot young quarterback, but Gisele was making millions of dollars as the highest-paid supermodel in the world. She’s also somewhat of an activist and philanthropist; because of her work in supporting several environmental causes, she was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme in 2009. She is also fluent in three languages and conversational in English. But she won me over when she made Anne Hathaway look like an idiot for not knowing about Shu Uemera eyelash curlers (see: The Devil Wears Prada).
Tom, on the other hand, may not have started out on top, but he’s certainly worked his way up there. He has made a name for himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, based on his field awareness and ability to make on-field decisions in milliseconds. Four Super Bowls and a handful of MVP awards is more than enough to quantify his incredible athleticism.
Pairing the Victoria’s Secret model with the successful athlete is something that’s been done before, and with good reason. Both are the highest goal within their respective gender stereotypes: girls as pretty, boys as tough and strong. But even though there’s a fair amount of buzz generated every year by the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and the Oscars red carpet, it’s nothing compared to the Super Bowl. With Tom’s Super Bowl wins, he seems to be building up a legacy, and maybe Gisele will do nothing more but slowly fade into irrelevance.
But the question of Tom versus Gisele doesn’t just come down to beauty versus football. Rather, what’s more valuable to us—innate talent or learned skill?
The answer is learned skill. We live in a culture that values the self-made man, the hard worker, and the 10,000-hour rule. Yet we’d still rather watch a TV segment about a child prodigy like Derek Paravicini, a blind and autistic piano player who can play any piece of music after only hearing it once, rather than a segment on any of the countless other musicians who have devoted their lives to mastering their craft. There’s something fascinating about those who possess innate talents because they can’t be created. Tom may have devoted countless hours to get better at football, but Gisele managed to make millions of dollars just by planting herself in front of a camera.
Despite my better judgment, I’d have to say that Gisele is settling. She would be better suited for someone who’s achieved success by showcasing a natural gift, like a child piano prodigy or maybe Benjamin Button. Then again, Tom proved that learned skill was needed to get Gisele.
Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Photo Illustration