She was born to Robert Thurman, a Buddhist writer and academic and Nena von Schlebrugge, a model. She is of mixed descent which explains her exotic looks.
Thurman's household was one in which the The Dalai Lama was an occasional guest; she and her siblings all have names deriving from Buddhist mythology; and Middle American behavior was little understood, much less pursued. And so it was that the young Thurman confronted childhood with an odd name and eccentric home life and nature seemingly conspired against her as well. She is six feet tall, and from an early age towered over everyone else in class. Her famously large feet would soon sprout to size 11 and even beyond that and although they would eventually be lovingly filmed by director Quentin Tarantino, as a child she generally wore the biggest shoes in class, which only provided another subject of ridicule. Even her long nose moved one of her mother's friends to helpfully suggest rhinoplasty -- to the ten-year-old Thurman. To make matters worse yet, the family constantly relocated, making the gangly, socially inept Thurman perpetually the new kid in class. The result was an exceptionally awkward, self-conscious, lonely and alienated childhood.