Since starting this site and becoming more aware of popular culture, I keep bumping into the obsession in so many countries with physical appearance, particularly breast size, and how it distorts what women of all ages—but especially girls—think of their bodies. It’s clear how imperfectly many females view themselves due to the society’s ideal dimensions promoted in the media. It also affects how men and teenage boys regard their potential dates and mates.

As someone who spends hours exercising to change my body slightly and come closer to the fantasy me in my mind (more ab definition, more muscle cuts), I certainly can’t criticize most of the two million women a year worldwide (300,000 in the U.S.) who enlarge their bosoms for cosmetic reasons to ease their insecurities or to help them believe they will have a better chance of attracting a man. Both plastic surgery and muscle building may have the same goal—to look “better” in the mirror and on the beach— but it is obvious that surgery is a lot more serious and riskier than crunches and weight lifting.

supermodel Paulina Porizkova—1985

supermodel Paulina Porizkova—1985

The attention to celebrities’ body changes is mind-boggling. Here is an article by Paulina Porizkova, who in the ’80’s was one of the top models in the world— she was twice voted by People Magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world…and also nominated in 1989 for a Golden Raspberry award as one of the worst actresses in a film. I never heard of her before this story appeared, so in case you are as naive about some icons as I am, I have added Paulina’s bio after her article.

You will notice that Paulina minds when women make body changes to conform to the current mass standards of beauty—which she just happens to have been born with—and she faults Kate Hudson for feeling insecure and modifying her “perfect” body by having breast implants. Yet the bio mentions that Paulina had a gap in her teeth, resisted smiling in her photographs, and eventually had her teeth corrected. Paulina also says every woman is uniquely beautiful and should celebrate any good features if she can find them. For me this sounds like a rich person saying all poor people shouldn’t mind poverty, because they have an abundance of spiritual riches.

April 22, 2010

Why Kate Hudson’s (Alleged) Breast Implants Have Me Heartbroken
by Paulina Porizkova, Supermodel

Kate Hudson has gotten implants. Allegedly. This news headed straight to my heart from the lips of Wendy Williams who got it from some gossip rag. My coffee was getting cold while I, heartbroken, sadly gazed at the before and after pictures of Kate Hudson on the screen. The before: an amazingly fit, gorgeous, and yes, small-breasted young woman in a to-die-for red bikini; in the other, a blond starlet sipping a latte. The cup size was undeniably different. (And no, we’re not speaking of the latte.) Was there a chance it was merely a hardworking push-up bra? I find myself practically praying over Kate’s boobs. Pathetic, I know…

two shots of Kate Hudson, 2009 (left) and 2010

two shots of Kate Hudson, 2009 (left) and 2010

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. No one ages anymore, no one has imperfections of any kind anymore, all smiles are flawless and no one past 35 can express displeasure. Madonna no longer looks like Madonna: what started as a sexy, well shaped, and somewhat hairy Italian girl has ended as a cool Nordic blonde. It’s not that she doesn’t look great, she does. But she is starting to sort of melt away into the stew of the famous women over-fifty-high-cheek-boned blondes-who-cannot-frown.

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. But please, before permanently removing or adding a part to you to fit societal graphs of pulchritude, consider that that change will be permanent. If, a hundred years ago, you were unhappy with your nose – tough luck. 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. That’s how, for example, we got the incomparable portrait of a large nosed Madame X, proudly displaying a profile that makes ME want a big nose.

Paulina writes she now has saddlebags and cellulite

Paulina writes she now has saddlebags and cellulite

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. Lest 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. I look horrendous in short shorts and any pant or trouser that is tight in the thigh. 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. If I went and lipo-ed my thighs to the size of Gisele’s, I still wouldn’t look anything like her, and instead, I’d start looking like everyone else. I would be a poor example of a woman with skinny thighs. That is my trouble with Kate. I used to use her as an example of the perfect beauty with a small chest. Now, with her new boobs, she just looks like any California blond actress. Instead of enhancing, she has diminished herself.

Wouldn’t Audrey Hepburn, Jane Birkin, Twiggy, Charlotte Rampling, and Jean Harlow have lost their special brand of elegant, feline sexiness if they were tipping over under the weight of great ol’ mammaries? Compare any one of these natural beauties to someone like Heidi Montag, and it’s like comparing a Hastens Swedish handmade mattress to a cheap plastic pool float.

Heidi Montag after multiple plastic surgeries

Heidi Montag after multiple plastic surgeries

So why? Why do we all want to look the same? It can’t all be about being attractive to the opposite sex. There are men who prefer the full breast; there are men who prefer the well-shaped leg or the round behind. There are all sorts of tastes out there, for all sorts of women. And the way to get their attention is by being different, by standing out. Once you start to blend in, you are no longer special.

That’s the end of Paulina’s article. Now here are some facts about her life:

Paulina Porizkova (born April 9, 1965) is a Czech-born supermodel and actress. She holds both Swedish and United States citizenship.

A photographer friend took pictures of Porizkova and sent them to the Elite modeling agency in 1980. At 5 feet 10 1/2 inches (180 cm), she was the perfect height for a fashion model. Elite head John Casablancas noticed Porizkova’s attractiveness and potential, and offered her a ticket to Paris. It was an extremely tempting offer for a teenager who was eager to get out of Sweden and to support herself.

She quickly rose to become a top model in Paris during the early 1980s, and her fame spread to the United States when she posed in swimwear for Sports Illustrated magazine. She appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1984 and again in 1985. (Her first appearance as a model in the magazine was in 1983.) A third consecutive run as the S.I. covergirl supposedly was dashed when she appeared on the cover of Life magazine in a swimsuit.

Porizkova appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine in August 1987 to preview her new (non-nude) swimsuit calendar. A few years earlier she had appeared in a nude spread in GQ magazine, which had left her feeling dissatisfied.

Both of her calendars in 1988 and 1989 by photographer Marco Glaviano sold hundreds of thousands of copies, setting a standard that paved the way for other models like Cindy Crawford and Frederique for their own pictorial calendars.

Porizkova was chosen twice by People magazine as one of the Fifty Most Beautiful People in the world, in 1990 and 1992. Harper’s Bazaar magazine named her one of its ten most beautiful women in 1992. American Photo magazine in its first issue declared her to be the model of the 1980s. She appeared on the covers of numerous magazines around the world during the 1980s and 1990s, including appearances on Vogue, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, Self, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour. She also featured in advertising for Diet Sprite.

In 1988, Porizkova won what was then the highest-paying modeling contract: a six million dollar contract with Estee Lauder cosmetics, replacing the model Willow Bay. Estee Lauder’s strategy in the late 1980s was to move away from working-class women and target young, sophisticated, middle-class women. The black-and-white television and print advertising campaign won praise from critics, and the Estee Lauder makeover transformed Porizkova’s public image from a swimsuit model to that of European sophisticate. In 1995 Porizkova was replaced by Elizabeth Hurley.

Porizkova has appeared in the books Models and Sirens, by Marco Glaviano, and in Fashion Photography by Patrick Demarchelier. The latter includes some of the noted LIFE magazine swimsuit pictures from several years ago). She was also in Women by Herb Ritts.

During her early modeling career, Porizkova had noticeable gaps between her front teeth. For this reason, she usually appeared with a closed mouth rather than a smile during the period. One writer noted that her teeth were an eccentricity in an otherwise perfect face. The rarity of her smile became a trademark for her during that period of her career. Her gapped teeth were corrected (and filmed) during her movie debut Anna. Her other trademark was her “dreamy look”, which she claims came from her squinting at the camera because of her extreme nearsightedness.

After bearing her first baby, Porizkova devoted less and less time to modeling, and she moved into acting in independent films. She soon got a new contract as the lead model for Escada. In early 2001, she was the hostess for a television show on the E! network’s Style Channel. In 2005, she made her first appearance in the noted Victoria’s Secret catalogue.

Although she had had an extraordinary career as a model, Porizkova was known to make disparaging remarks about the fashion and beauty industry, displeasing some in the field.

She will now be a judge on America’s Next Top Model, starting on Cycle 10 in place of the fashion icon, Twiggy.

Porizkova’s film debut was in the 1983 modelling pseudo-documentary Portfolio. Still only seventeen, she managed to look more mature and intelligent than the other more-established models, and she became the “covergirl” for the film.

Porizkova appeared in the 1987 film Anna (which starred Sally Kirkland), receiving good reviews from her patrons at Vogue magazine. It was in 1989 that she had her largest, and best-known role to date, co-starring with Tom Selleck in the film Her Alibi. However, she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry for worst actress for her appearance in that film.

She was rumored in a 1989 issue of the Italian magazine “Moda” to be starring along with Robert De Niro in a planned film by Sergio Leone about the siege of Leningrad during World War II, halted by the director’s death.

She appeared in the bizarre cult film, Arizona Dream, with Johnny Depp and Jerry Lewis, in a minor role as Lewis’s young Polish fiancee. She also appeared in the film Thursday.

Paulina wrote and directed the 2001 film, Roommates. In 2004, she starred in the romantic comedy, Knots, but turned down an opportunity to be a Bond Girl in the 1995 film GoldenEye because of better earnings available to her in modelling then, as well as not wishing to take time away from her family.