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Body Image

Identity

57-year-old former model Paulina Porizkova had the perfect response to ageist comment online

"We have earned our beauty, we understand what it is, and we can see it so much better."

Photo by Malin K. on Unsplash

Paulina Porizkova took on a commenter who said she was in "pain" being "old and ugly."

Aging is a weird thing. From one perspective, it's something we should be grateful for. Few people would wish for the kind of short, uneventful life that would remove aging from the equation completely. The longer we live, the more we grow and learn and experience life, and "aging" is simply the mathematical sum of those experiences. All good, right?

On the other hand, our society does everything in its power to hide the fact that aging happens. Especially when it comes to women. According to Statista, the global anti-aging beauty market is estimated to be worth $58.8 billion. People will try all manner of creams, serums, masks, acids, lights, technologies and surgeries to try to prevent wrinkles, lines, sagginess, spots and other signs that our bodies are changing with time.

Most of us live our daily lives somewhere in the middle of these two realities, wanting to embrace our aging selves but also hoping to stave off some of the more obvious signs that we're getting older. It's natural to resist it in some ways, since the older we get, the closer we get to the end of our lives, which we certainly don't want to hasten—especially if we actually love living.

It can be helpful to see people who are embracing their age, which is why it can be inspiring to see someone like former supermodel Paulina Porizkova confidently sharing photos of her 57-year-old self.



In posts on social media, Porizkova shared a photo of herself in a bikini and a screenshot of a comment made by a person who felt the need to comment on her aging body. And phew, was it something. The commenter wrote:

"You must be in so much pain to keep posting bikini pictures at your age. I've always thought that getting old and ugly is hardest on the pretty people. The fall from grace is so much farther when you were beautiful. Ugly people were always ugly so getting old and ugly isn't a change. In summary, I feel your pain. I pray you can come to terms with your mortality. We all get old and ugly…you just had to fall from a greater height than the rest of us. Tears Times Infinity!"

So many things to unpack here.

Porizkova shared her thoughts on the comment on Instagram.

"Here’s a good follower comment- echoing a few others," Porizkova wrote. "A woman of 57 is 'too old' to pose in a bikini - no matter what she looks like. Because 'Old' is 'Ugly.' I get comments like these every time I post a photo of my body. This is the ageist shaming that sets my teeth on edge. Older men are distinguished, older women are ugly."

"People who believe prettiness equals beauty do not understand beauty," she continued. "Pretty is easy on the eyes, partly because it’s a little bland, inoffensive. It’s easy to take in and easy to forget. Not so beauty. Beauty can be sharp. It can wound you and leave a scar. To perceive beauty you have to be able to SEE."

"This is why I believe we get more beautiful with age," she added. "We have earned our beauty, we understand what it is, and we can see it so much better. There is no such thing as ugly and old. Only shortsighted and ignorant."

On Twitter, Porizkova was a bit more sarcastic, writing, "Thank you for feeling my pain, rickaroo777. As you can see, I’m suffering indeed."

That tongue-in-cheek response prompted others to share their aging selves in photos, sharing how their "old and ugly" phase of life is going. The thread turned into a veritable celebration of middle-to-late age, with posts about how much more comfortable people feel in their bodies as they get older and the freedom that comes along with not caring what other people think.

You suffer beautifully

There are two big ironies with the original trolling comment. Most obviously, Porizkova obviously looks freaking amazing in a bikini, so the whole "ugly" and "fall from grace" line of thought is object and off base. The second is that if you look through Porizkova's Instagram feed, she doesn't pose in bikinis very often at all. It's not like she's plastering her bikini selfies all over social media trying to make herself feel better about herself, as the commenter implies. She just…sometimes wears a bikini. Whoop dee doo.

People don't have to wear bikinis if they don't want to. But to tell strangers what they can wear crosses a line. All bodies are bikini bodies, and if the person in the body wants their body to be in a bikini, more power to them.

The "suffering" and "pain" in the posts were so funny to see.

The thread brought inspiration to those who may fall prey to the idea that people shouldn't wear certain things after a certain age or that only people with certain body sizes or shapes should wear certain things.

The hashtag #oldandugly started trending as people responded to Porizkova's call for a celebration of aging beautifully.

"Todays thread has been my absolute favorite of all time," Porizkova wrote on Twitter. "Thank you all you 'old and ugly' women (and a few men) showing the world how much we 'suffer' at in our old age. You’re all breathtaking!"

May we all age beautifully and gracefully in whatever way those words are meaningful to us, and show those who think that aging means "suffering" and "pain" due to being "old and ugly" that they have no idea what they're talking about.

(And here's an extra shout-out to Porizkova for using her beauty and her age to make an important point—not only about celebrating getting older, but also about how propaganda works. Brava.)


This article originally appeared on 05.03.22

Identity

7 tips for capturing your true, beautiful self in photos

It's not vain to want people to see the real you in pictures.

Every human being has their own unique beauty that cameras don't always capture.

One of the weirder things about being a human is that we rarely ever get to see our actual selves. Even if we look into a mirror, we're seeing a backward reflection, a reverse image, not what other people see. (Hence the popularity of the "true mirror," which sometimes makes people cry when they see what they really look like.)

Photos certainly don't help. All it takes is one bad angle, some off lighting, a distorting camera lens or an unflattering split-second facial expression to have us wondering, "OMG is that what I really look like?"

No, it's not. Because the truth is, beauty and body image messaging aside, we are all uniquely gorgeous in our own way and photos rarely captures our true essence. Some of that can't be helped, but there are ways we can get closer to that goal. After all, photographs of us will last long beyond our bodies, so wouldn't it be nice if we could confidently say to our descendants, "Yeah, that was me, in all my human glory"?


While a photograph will always fall short of the real you, here are some tips for making pictures that capture your best essence as much as possible, whether you're taking a selfie or someone else is behind the camera.

1. Relax.

Easier said than done, I know, but most of us tend to stiffen up for photos. Shake your body out. Roll your shoulders. It only takes a couple of seconds to consciously let go of the tension, and it can make a huge difference in how the camera captures you.

2. Think of something genuinely joyful.

If you need to smile for a photo, stop thinking about smiling, and just think of something that always makes you smile. Better yet, think of something hilarious to get yourself smile-laughing. The best smiles are real smiles, and real smiles aren't poses—they come from within.

man smiling for a camera with his arms in flex pose

Get silly if you have to.

Photo by Sherman Yang on Unsplash

3. Turn your head to the right.

It's hard enough to make a 3D face into a 2D image and do it justice, so might as well take advantage of all the little tricks to capture the best of our faces. Research shows that the left side of our faces is usually the more flattering side, so why not make the most of it? And this isn't just about looking better on the surface. The left cheek shows more emotion—or in other words, the realer you.

4. Lean in.

Not only does leaning forward create more flattering angles for the camera, it also draws people into your photo. There's some subtle psychology behind this advice, but it works. It makes your face the focal point of the picture, which is what you want.

woman smiling and looking at the camera

Take lots of photos so you have lots to choose from.

Photo by Nguyễn Hiệp on Unsplash

5. Look with love—and light—in your eyes

Remember that when you look at the camera, you're not actually looking at a camera—you're looking at a person who will someday be looking at you. So take a second to picture them and look at them with love (not talking romantic love, here—human love, philia love, agape love). You'll be amazed at how much more real you appear in photos with this one simple mindset shift.

Also, try to make sure there's a light source in front of you, whether it's a window or a lamp, to catch the twinkle in your eye. We see people's eyes twinkle all the time in real life, but photos only capture that if there's a light source.

6. Take lots and lots of photos.

It's not vain to take lots of photos, it's smart, since you'll have a much greater chance of actually getting a pic that represents you if you take a bunch of them. Change poses and expressions in between takes. And don't be afraid to move around—we look better and more natural when we're in motion anyway.

7. Don't be afraid of editing

Too many people believe that editing a photograph somehow makes the photo less real. It's actually the opposite. The goal is to capture what our eyes see, but no camera captures exactly what our eyes see. Professional photographers almost always edit photos; in fact, it's a huge part of the art of photography. Even in the old pre-digital days of darkrooms, photographers used various techniques to adjust lighting and exposure as they processed their images, and photo retouching has been around since the mid-1800s.

Obviously, applying a totally unrealistic beauty filter to your face isn't the ideal here, but adjusting the exposure, brightness, warmth, etc. to make a photo look more like you and not you-in-bad-lighting is 100% okay. Just remember you are editing to make it feel more like you, not look less like the real you.

Photo from YouTube video.

Photo of Skylar.

Even though he was born "Katherine Elizabeth," Skylar lived like a regular little boy for most of his childhood.

He was happy.


This is Skylar.

A photo collection of a young Skylar.

Photo from YouTube video.

Little Skylar.

Photo from YouTube video.

But when puberty hit, he started feeling intense pressure to be "normal" and fit in. So he tried to present as more traditionally "feminine."

Puberty happens.

Photo from YouTube video.

But he couldn't shake the feeling that he was denying a huge part of himself. Late in high school, he started taking testosterone.

Eating and feeling more comfortable.

Photo from YouTube video.

Skylar started feeling more comfortable immediately. And before he knew it, he was at his "dream school," having the time of his life. And taking lots and lots of pictures of himself.

A person and their dog.

Photo from YouTube video.

Access to medical care played a big part in Skylar becoming the person he is today, but that wasn't all.

Check out his story and walk five years in his shoes. It's definitely a perspective we don't see often enough:

This article originally appeared on 08.30.14

Adrienne Osuna is a fitness blogger with a focus on weight training. After years of struggling with her weight, this mother of four finally got serious about her health, adopting a rigorous schedule of power lifting, cardio, and intermittent fasting to lose weight, gain muscle, and kick ass.

And while her personal regimen might be a little too ambitious for most of us, she's still inspiring—because she keeps it real.

An image she posted on her blog is going viral for pointing out that focusing on your weight is a misleading goal. The before-and-after pic shows her before she started lifting and after—a complete physical transformation which resulted in a staggering one pound of weight loss.


I know what you're thinking—that's two pounds! Well, I can explain. After Osuna's pic was copied from her blog, it blew up all over the internet—on Facebook, Twitter, Imgur, and more.

Youtube Mix GIF - Find & Share on GIPHYGiphy

After she went viral she made another Instagram post revealing she was actually a pound heavier in the after photo. Unfortunately, that post has since been made private.

She would later explain that she felt it was important to reclaim her image because it had been used in advertisements for weight loss products, and that's not what she's about.

"But I DID NOT use anyone's products to do this," she wrote in a post which since been made private. "This was all hard work in the gym lifting heavy weights and intermittent fasting.

Kudos to Ms. Osuna for getting the word out—fitness isn't about a number, it's about having awesome muscles you could use to punch a hole through a plaster wall.

This article was originally published on 12.22.22 by our partners at someecards and was written by Matt Nedostup.