It’s been a big year for Kendall Jenner. The top supermodel, who graced her fourth American Vogue cover for the April 2018 issue, became an aunt twice over, was named the Fashion Icon of the Decade by the Daily Front Row, dialed back on her industry duties and learned one of her biggest lessons yet in the wake of controversy.
It was nearly a year ago in April 2017 that the 22-year-old star appeared in a Pepsi commercial that was swiftly met with national backlash. Less than 24 hours after the spot’s debut, the brand ultimately pulled it.
“Obviously, my intention was not to hurt anyone,” Jenner told Vogue. “Honestly, I just hid out. It hurt me that I hurt other people.”
As she continued, “I’ve been yelled at before, stepped in controversy before, but nothing to that extent. You can never really prepare for something like that.” When asked if someone spoke to her about it, the reality star said no. “Nobody came to me to explain it to where I was like, Oh, I get it,” she said. “But I’m not an idiot. I can see it for myself.”
The commercial featured Jenner taking part in a photo shoot as a crowd of protesters collected in the streets against a barricade of police officers. She ultimately joined in, handing a can of pepsi to one cop, who accepts to the sound of cheers. Some criticized the perceived message, noting that a white woman wielding a can of Pepsi should not be depicted as the answer in the wake of nationwide protests to police shootings of African Americans.
In the aftermath, Jenner learned to keep a closer eye on things. “I am a huge people pleaser, and that is what my job has always been: You come to set and you do what you’re told.”
So, why the digital speculation about her sexuality? “I think it’s because I’m not like all my other sisters, who are like, ‘Here’s me and my boyfriend!’ So it was a thing for a minute because no one ever saw me with a guy. I would always go that extra mile to be low-key with guys, sneaking around all the time. You don’t want to, like, look crazy,” she explained.
“I don’t think I have a bisexual or gay bone in my body, but I don’t know! Who knows?!” the model continued to the magazine. “I’m all down for experience—not against it whatsoever—but I’ve never been there before.”