EXCLUSIVE: Adriana Lima on Raising Her Daughters in a Beauty-Obsessed World and Why She ‘Married’ Herself

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Adriana Lima wants to change your idea of “beauty.”

The Brazilian supermodel is stepping out of her comfort zone to host Lifetime’s new competition series, American Beauty Star. Think Project Runway, but for hair and makeup artists. The 36-year-old confesses she totally reached out to Runway host, and fellow Victoria’s Secret Angel, Heidi Klum for tips.

“Honestly, when I received the call [to host] I was like, ‘Holy s**t!” Adriana tells ET on the series' L.A. set. “Is that truth? I did not believe it. I swear. I did not believe it. Me, really? With this accent? Really, me? I did not believe it at all.”

“I love the show,” she adds. “It’s showing the human side of [the industry]. What goes behind creating a look, what emotions? Where do you find creation, and where do you find creativity?”

The series, premiering Sept 21, pits 12 salon professionals against each other in weekly challenges designed to highlight different facets of the beauty world.

“We have challenges from makeovers, to a beauty pop-up bar, red carpet look,” Adriana explains. “Some challenges where they get to express themselves and personalities, or express how they could change the world in different ways.”

Adriana admits “everything” about the show surprises her, and that she’s learned a lot from filming, from how to host (“Whoa!”) to beauty tips and tricks.

“I learned to embrace the simple things throughout the whole process,” she shares. “It’s about standing up for what you believe ... I find imperfections, mistakes beautiful, too.”

The mom of two says she hopes the show will challenge how people view the beauty industry. It’s not all skin deep.

“We’re not only celebrating physical beauty, because creation is the start the beauty,” she says. “And how does that happen? Emotions, heart. That’s how the creation process starts. So it’s much more than only appearance and what is put outside. The artist has some kind of connection [to] whatever they are expressing.”

“I think that the industry’s changed,” she adds. “Everyone wants to feel connected with the person behind the makeup or whatever, the picture. People want to see that human connection … [for] my children, I think there’s a lot of positive messages in fashion and in beauty, and those messages are the ones I will embrace and I will reinforce into my children’s lives.”

In fact, Adriana says she has no qualms about letting her daughters with ex Marko Jaric, 7-year-old Valentina and 5-year-old Sienna, enter the business.

“I have one possible candidate [for modeling],” she teases. “I will not name her, because I don’t know, she may change her mind and I don’t want her to have pressure from everyone out there, OK? So, there is a possibility and whatever is her decision I will be right there, supportive.”

Adriana says she hopes she leads by example for her girls, showing them beauty can be whatever you think it is.

“I feel the most beautiful when I’m myself, expressing my feelings,” she says. “If I put on a red lipstick, because I love a red lipstick just because, I don’t have an explanation for that. That’s when I feel beautiful. If I don’t want to use anything, I don’t want to use anything.”

That thought process was part of the reason behind a viral Instagram she shared in May, where she announced she was single, claiming she “married” herself. (Adriana has since gone on to enter a relationship with spiritual healer Metin Hara.)

“It’s like a symbolic thing,” she says of the post. “It’s talking about loving yourself. That’s how everything starts. If you’re incapable of loving your own self, how can you love anyone else in your life, if you don’t know how to embrace you?”

For more on American Beauty Star, check out the video below.