I've fallen a little in love with Paulina Porizkova. Count me among the thousands and thousands of boys who were fifteen in the mid-80s when the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model became a video vixen and rock star wife to Ric Ocasek of The Cars.
That union of a supermodel and strange-looking musician is one that continues to confound onlookers more than 20 years later.
But Porizkova has turned that all upside down with quotes referring to Ocasek as a teen's fantasy, admitting he said she missed her true calling to be a librarian. He publicly joked that she was "a beast", and she endearingly described him as her perfect man, ''a combination of Mr. Spock, David Bowie, Jesus Christ, and Chopin.''
In the celebrity culture where the expectation that everyone will be a certain kind of pretty and will, in turn, partner with another pretty person, I've long applauded Porizkova for not apologizing, explaining, or justifying her looks or the marriage many others saw (and see) as quirky or nonsensical.
Her "this is who I am" attitude has certainly not always been met well. But she's funny and articulate and opinionated and this does not necessarily fit the mold of pretty either. When she loosened the seams of the tightly sewn beauty standards on the site Modelina recently, I not only admired Porizkova more, I identified with her.
She specifically reacted to the gossip news that Kate Hudson has recently gotten implants, a sign of the time that Porizkova says she takes to heart. Looking at the before (which she says portray "an amazingly fit, gorgeous, and yes, small-breasted young woman in a to-die-for red bikini") and after photos of Hudson ("a blond starlet" with an "undeniably different" cup size), the supermodel admits in an honest and still self-deprecating way that she hopes it is a trick of good bodywear or photography, writing, "Was there a chance it was merely a hardworking push-up bra? I find myself practically praying over Kate's boobs. Pathetic, I know. (It signals a lack of employment on my part, getting sucked in like this by media gossip.)"
The problem she has with the (alleged) cosmetic surgery is not directed at Hudson herself and she makes that clear.
"My issue here isn't with Kate. If big boobs make her happier, then more power to her. The issue here, this fixing something perfect to something else perfect, is so much a sign of our times, and one that truly saddens me. The availability and ease of transforming our bodies is completely losing our identities and uniqueness, " Porizkova assesses.
She goes on to say that "Madonna no longer looks like Madonna," and that beauty standards within the celebrity culture are so askew that flaws can no longer be embraced or seen as giving character to a face or body, and that changing those flaws is now done permanently.
She cites legends like Audrey Hepburn and Jean Harlow and Twiggy -- all of whom stretched across screens and magazine spreads with bodies much like the one Hudson used to wear -- and wonders how awkward, disproportionate and not-themselves they would have been had they opted for implants.
But rather than just calling out her heartache at the surgery one star had or the homogeneous Botoxed face of another, Paulina Porizkova's real insight comes in lauding the beauty that we don't often enough honor among ourselves and is completely stripped away by procedures and chemicals and extreme makeovers in Hollywood.
"Personally, I believe that every woman in the world is beautiful. Sometimes the distribution of her attributes is not immediately apparent; sometimes it's a little uneven, but if she knew how to celebrate the things she was given, whether it's a beautiful pair of eyes or legs, or intellect, or a sense of humor- she could see how uniquely beautiful she was."
And just when you think this is just another condescending line spewed out by a 45-year old woman with a physical being that is perfection, she calls that out, too.
"Less you feel like interjecting, 'oh please, easy for you to say, miss former supermodel…' For your information, I have saddlebags and cellulite, and no matter how hard I work out, that is my body shape and I'm stuck with it," she owns up.
That doesn't stop her from embracing both sides of her beauty shamelessly.
"But, for the body type of a saddlebag/cellulite, I think I look really great. I have a small waist (which seems to come with my specific body type) and so I take every opportunity to show that off. In my opinion, I'm one hot example of a saddlebag/cellulite woman over forty."
The part of her rant where I went from crush to that fluttery love feeling began with the words about Hudson diminishing her unique beauty rather enhancing it and fully blossomed when she said she is an advocate of self-improvement. Not the augmentation that involves anesthesia and uniformity.
"Generally, I'm all for self-improvement. If you don't know something, do look it up. Do learn another language, do travel, do open your heart and mind to new experiences. And by all means, pluck your mono-brow, dye your mouse-brown hair and work out to firm your body; after all, if fashion changes to celebrate hairy plump women you can go right back," she says. "But please, before permanently removing or adding a part to you to fit societal graphs of pulchritude, consider that that change will be permanent... You could hide your flaws, accentuate your strengths, and sometimes, more often than not, realize your flaws were your strengths and were precisely what made you unique and beautiful."
It almost sounds like Porizkova is preaching. And she may as well be pounding the "America's Next Top Model" judges' table and spreading the good word that the people clearly need to hear. Why else would it sound like a revelation to hear a celebrity, particularly a model, equate self-improvement with improving your vocabulary and seeing the world rather than blasting off cellulite and getting bigger boobs?
What she's said here is not a new message for Porizkova. It's the same unapologetic tone and a similar "I see through this business" message she's communicated for decades about the supposedly mismatched attractiveness of she and her husband.
Certainly, taking care of ourselves while maintaining and embracing our uniqueness and even flaws is not a brand-new concept. It is, however, startling to hear.
And I like hearing it. I was heartbroken to see those pictures of Kate Hudson, too. As a woman with absolutely no need for breast enhancement, I personally was in awe of the low-cut gowns that revealed a glittery, gorgeous chest on the much-smaller-framed Kate Hudson. In this very real and unenhanced body, I am sad to see a star cross the line into no longer looking like herself. I don't recall ever thinking, "Hey, look how big and wonderful that A-lister's breasts look." Instead, I, perhaps like Porizkova, hope photos of that A-lister will pop up in next month's magazines looking flatter-chested or curvier or with that signature quirk back in place.
That rarely happens. But what if it did? What if, one celebrity at a time chose to stay looking like herself -- maybe a tweezed and dyed and semi-permanently augmented self -- but still herself? And what if other celebrities, like Paulina Porizkova, publicly and straightforwardly applauded it? How about that? How might things change, from the covers of magazines to the little voices in our own heads as we read them?
For now, I am going to put down the People and put aside the heartache that we are still battling these beauty and body standards and stand, short and curvy and desperately wanting to schedule a chemical peel, beside the supermodel.
If you and any other celebrity who has chosen not to get implants or who sloughed off the Hollywood ideals in other way care to join us, we're here with all the now-grown, balding, puffy-eyed once-teen boys who loved her for her body. And who she might just agree are beautiful in return.
Is it fair for supermodel Paulina Porizkova to be critical of celebrities who make permanent cosmetic changes to their bodies?
- What part of your body looks phenomenal these days?
- Carmen Electra regrets getting implants
- Seriously? We're supposed to get all worked up over Gwyneth's cankles?
[Photo credit: Larry Busacca / Getty Images Entertainment]