Paulina Porizkova: telling a woman what to do to be attractive is shaming her

This is probably a dumb question but are more people picking on Paulina Porizkova than others or is she just calling more out? Because I am flummoxed where these people get off telling Paulina she has flaws. Nobody should offer an unsolicited opinion on anyone’s appearance, but the nerve it must have taken to suggest to one of the world’s premiere supermodels that her face needs “fixing.” And yet, that is exactly what one cosmetic surgeon did. In a since deleted post, a plastic surgeon reposted the shot of Paulina above but in his caption, according to Paulina, he listed all the work she needed to have done. In response, Paulina posted the same photo with the following caption:

I found this photo, which I have posted here before, (and thought I looked great in) reposted here on IG by a cosmetic surgeon, and discussing in detail what I needed done.
Those pesky hollows under my cheeks could be gotten rid of with fillers, Botox for my forehead, those wrinkles on the side of my mouth, and the chords in my neck, and a whole bunch of lasers to tighten and smooth and tighten everything.
(It has since been deleted- I was looking for it this morning to post the repost.)

This is what an older woman in the public eye gets to deal with. I’m told my face needs “fixing”. It has somehow gone “wrong” by aging.
Is it any wonder that most of us who have the means will resort to some forms of fixing what we’re told is broken?

For the record, I have had laser treatments. And the plasma pen. I’d like to strike a balance between being proud to look my age and still get to feel pretty at times. In my job, I’m faced with my own face in almost unnatural detail – and although I have come to accept most of it, I still have a rough time accepting it all.

But telling a woman what she “needs” to do herself in order to be seen as attractive, whether it’s hair color, makeup, ski creams or clothing – or the more invasive options – is shaming her. Every time you catch yourself thinking or saying “you know, you should…” to a friend, stop for a moment. If she doesn’t ask for help, are you really helping?

Find what you think is beautiful in your friends and point it out.
The best way to support one another is to celebrate what is already there.

#betweenjloandbettywhite#graypride #beauty #acceptance#sisterhood#yourebeautifuljustthewayyouare

[From Instagram via People]

Paulina’s post hit me right at my core today. I could just put an exclamation point after each of her statements. I’ve been seeing the effects of some hard work with my diet and at the gym that’s had me feeling myself. Then I got some vacation shots back and it was like, “Oh HELL no! Who is that middle-aged mom with the frizzy mullet and missing eyes?!” Like Paulina, I want to find a balance of feeling good but looking my age. And unlike Paulina, I don’t have anyone other than myself pointing out my flaws. But she’s right, to have a professional plastic surgeon select her photo and broadcast all the reasons this perfectly attractive face should be altered is a form of shame. And it’s unhealthy. It encourages all of us to look in a mirror and seek out the flaws rather than the traits that make us shine.

In her next post, Paulina thanked everyone for their compliments but reiterated she hadn’t been fishing. The point she was trying to make was, “even a great photo of an older woman in which she looks ‘younger,’ society has decided her face or body are somehow wrong- not good ENOUGH.” She posted her caption next to the sharp focus photo of her face below and said she was “simultaneously insecure and proud. I have lost the smooth glow and prettiness of youth, but I have gained character.” I appreciate Paulina’s honesty with the photos and mentioning her treatments and insecurities. I have no problem with procedures or beauty tricks that make people feel better. It’s all up to the individual. All I’d like to see is a variety, a tapestry of different forms of beauty that include different shades and terrains. My favorite Designing Women episode was The Women of Atlanta when the ladies were being photographed for a magazine spread. The male photographer dressed and posed them in the male gaze until Julia got fed up and kicked him out. But the best part was she listed all the women he should have shot to show off the city and then they put up these lovely black and white photos of women from all walks of life. And they all looked beautiful. That’s what I want, Julia Sugarbaker’s montage of beauty.

Photo credit: Instagram and Cover Images

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48 Responses to “Paulina Porizkova: telling a woman what to do to be attractive is shaming her”

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  1. Tulipworthy says:


  2. OriginalLaLa says:

    the whole skincare/antiaging world is a bit nuts – I’m in my late 30s and have been using prescription skincare for a while (tretinoin), that coupled with my medium olive skin means my skin looks much younger but, I’ve definitely had estheticians tell me that I should get botox, thread lifts or undereye filler..even though I have no wrinkles or sagging yet.. go figure.

    It’s an industry built around making you aware of your “flaws” so they can “fix” them…

    • Jo says:

      A 40 year old friend of mine who looks 35, gorgeous, olive skinned, black haired beauty was told by one of her best friends that “it’s inconceivable that she walks around looking like that, with a few expression wrinkles and natural face”.
      She was depressed about it. I was flabbergasted. The woman is stunning. Meanwhile, she is married to a much older man, with a beer belly, porous skin and googly eyes, who does not have a care in the world how he is perceived physically. He is no where near imagining that his lovely wife has these issues as he adores her – he is a great guy.
      Sometimes I think I must not be a human. I am probably a hyena because sometimes I feel like laughing in a really strident way.

      • C says:

        Christ! With “best friends” like that who needs enemies? What a disgusting comment.

      • Dee says:

        THIS! So many of the plastic surgeons calling women out have google eyes, bulbous noses and jowls!!

    • Anna says:

      I would like to see this aestetician tell this to a man… what painful procedures are needed to make him look young… and then see this man laugh in her face because most of them won’t let you pluc one hair out because it “hurts”. But we need to stick needles everywhere in our bodies… yeah right. Im

      • Lolo86lf says:

        Unfortunately, a trend that has been happening for years now shows that men are using Botox injections to look younger. The madness is spreading to the male population too.

  3. Jo says:

    Each time there is a post like this someone writes “if I had enough money I’d buy myself a new face”. So there, I will post the opposite:
    I I was a gazillionnaire I would not buy a new face. I am genuinely curious to see how my face develops, what it reveals. So far it has been laughter, for sure at some point it will be worry, and then just the skin losing its elasticity.
    I found myself looking at post middle-aged men (I am 46, so maybe around 55 year olds) and finding them attractive, which surprised me. And then I thought that I was aligned with my mid-decade, and embracing what time does to the body, which is beautiful at every age but you not always see it it like that because you are not there yet.
    And she is right: our society lives through hyperpixelated images and distorted smartphone cameras so we are even more prone to over-analyze out bodies, which is extremely dangerous.

    • Keekey says:

      Yes! I remember watching the actor who played Tywin Lannister in GOT (the Lannisters’ father) and thinking what an interesting (wrinkled) face he has and how much character there is in it, and then realizing with such sadness that most actresses would never be even allowed by Hollywood to be appreciated for that sort of thing. I don’t find “older” faces unattractive, and I wish our culture would stop acting as if they are!

      • Lemon says:

        Agree, and honestly, to me, that stuff looks weird in person.

        Because unless you’re getting your whole body done — neck, hands, etc, — you see a whole person first then your mind goes to that weird patch of plump shiny forehead that looks out of place on a 40 year old. Or, if your my MIL, a 60+ lady with perky implants. It looks incongruent and obvious.

        Recently, Christy Turlington posed with Cindy Crawford for Annie Leibovits. Christy still has a natural face while Cindy’s is plumped with fillers and stretched. Christy looked much better (to me). In her IG candids she has wrinkles and eyelid hoods and all of that stuff but the overall character of her face remains.

  4. G says:

    Honestly, this is making me tear up. I’m only 35 but have been really struggling lately with accepting how my body and face are different (especially since having a baby), wanting to be able accept and celebrate it all but really feeling the pressure of our culture’s impossible beauty standards and hatred of visibly aging. I don’t have the means to get special surgeries or other treatments, but I’ve found that voice starting to whisper in the back of my mind when I look in the mirror: “What if you could just get this or that tucked in a little bit?” I hate that I have started thinking that way. I so appreciate the wisdom of Paulina’s comments and hope that I can embrace more of that perspective: “I have gained character.”

    • Lolo86lf says:

      35 years old! You are still very young. Our culture of impossible beauty standards have caused many of usto have body dysmorphia.

      • G says:

        Yes, this is partly why I’m frustrated! I recognize that I am not actually “old,” but the skincare/beauty marketing machine bombards me with messaging about all the things that are either already wrong with my skin or that I need to be actively fighting to prevent now that I’m in my 30s…and the supposed solution to all my problems is to spend my money and time on their products. I’m over it! I’m mad that that’s the messaging I receive — reducing me to a consumer — and I’m sad that I bought into it for so long. I recently discovered Jessica DeFino’s Substack, “Unpublishable,” and it has been SO helpful!

    • Jo says:

      It has taken me a while to understand that but not all clothes that fit are good for your style. I am lucky because I have ADHD, possibly on the spectrum, and therefore cannot stand tight clothes and certain textures. I started going up a size and found that not only am I more comfortable, but I also look far more stylish. Skinny jeans are no one’s friend. Also a taylor is the next hidden secret of previous generations. As for my face, I lol at myself in the mirror and tell myself I look amazing. I slay. It’s probably silly, but if me. Have that inherent ability to boost themselves up, I want some of that. And believe it or not, it works. Our brains are that simple sometimes (unless there are other issues).
      I hope this was not intrusive as I am probably assuming a lot of things.

      • G says:

        I love that, Jo! Good for you for experimenting to discover what works for you and makes you feel awesome. I’ve been trying to do that as I get used to how my body is different postpartum. Trying not to waste so much energy being sad about all the clothes from “before baby” that no longer fit, and instead find new things that work for the way I am now and make me feel happy to get dressed each day. And I’m going to borrow your affirmation technique and see if it helps 😉

      • Jo says:

        I am rooting for you!!
        For me it was my body changing shape – it didn’t feel like me!
        Also it takes ages for the body to lose the extra everything (uterus size, blood, fat) that it produced during pregnancy and eventually breastfeeding. I have 4 kids and each time was different.
        You are right though, it is actually crazy how prevalent these ads and Tik-Toks about all kinds of procedures target us. It’s insane.

    • sarahFrancisco says:

      @G The only way to deal with all this is to tell the whole world to “f off” and go on living YOUR life on YOUR terms with YOUR face.

      I used to model. I’m still pretty, although at 40 I’m considered too old in America to just be called pretty without immediately adding any “but’s”. You know, the jaw line isn’t as razor sharp and the smile wrinkles. Things like that. I’m not sure if it’s my self-esteem or just plain stubbornness, but I’ve always felt like I don’t own anyone anything. Including the way I look.

      I remember when I was in my 20s someone said about me (thinking I didn’t hear her) “Sarah thinks she is the $hit.” And I thought to myself, “Hell yeah I do! Thank you for pointing it out. I never thought of it before, but yes, yes, I know I’m the $hit!”

      I recommend you start thinking yourself the same 😉

  5. Snuffles says:

    I’d rather be a Paulina than a Madonna. As far as I’m concerned, Paulina is still a babe that is aging gracefully.

    • Lolo86lf says:

      The pictures we saw yesterday of Madonna at her birthday party are not even completely real. She used an instagram filter. Madonna is 7 years older than Paulina and her face (Madonna’s) looks so painfully smooth out by filler injection. I prefer to look like Paulina.

  6. Lolo86lf says:

    It is so humiliating when people whom you don’t have the kind of rapport needed tell you what’s wrong with your face and what you should do. And I am a guy, and I imagine is even worse for women to be put under the proverbial microscope.

    • Alex says:

      The story of my present life. For some unknown reason I get unrequested opinions that I need Botox to erase my laugh lines. If I get Botox I would look close to who I used to when younger.g

  7. Paulkid says:

    If one compares the photos of Paulina with those recemt ones of Madonna, there is no question which woman is growing in beauty, character and healthy self image.

    • Lolo86lf says:

      Paulina looks human, Madonna looks silicone-y

    • Jaded says:

      Madonna looks ridiculous, Paulina looks gorgeous because she has inner beauty, something Madonna totally lacks, so she fills her face and butt with god knows what and swaggers around like she’s all that. Pathetic.

  8. Watson says:

    I love how she is an advocate for women aging with grace. It’s like society has forgotten what aging looks like. And social media has made people bold and not in a good way.

    • Eurydice says:

      It’s hard for me to say what “society” even is. In real life I’ve never seen anyone who looks like the people on social media. I’ve seen Paulina and Giselle a couple of times here in town, but they looked like tall, attractive women, not plastic preying mantises. Everyone else on the street is your usual, imperfect human being.

  9. Shoop says:

    She looks glorious; hack doctors and needle pushers need to learn to speak when spoken to.

  10. L84Tea says:

    Paulina is aging beautifully, the same way Audrey Hepburn was. Her eyes are still freaking incredible. She’s still stunning in my book.

  11. Eurydice says:

    Paulina is gorgeous in all those photos. The thing to ask when getting criticism like this is – who is it that’s doing the asking and what do they want? Plastic surgeons and aestheticians want business, influencers want business, celebrities want business. They don’t actually care what you look like, they just want to be known fixers – they’re monetizing shame.

  12. Julia K says:

    From her mouth to Madonnas’ ear. Everything she said. Aging gracefully.

  13. BUBS says:

    It’s amazing how today’s world seems to shame women for the natural process of aging…so much so that even younger women have started dreading their forthcoming older years. There’s this amazing YouTuber I watch…she’s a young lady with a great carriage and sense of style. I was so shocked when she started getting Botox…all because she didn’t like the way her forehead came across on camera…mind you, this is someone in her 20’s and these so called “abnormalities” are something I don’t think any viewer ever even noticed or even pointed out! She has just convinced herself that she doesn’t meet a standard of beauty because her brows move when she laughs or has a worried expression on camera – that’s actually what she said! I know, yeah, we can all do whatever we want with our bodies but I wish we didn’t put ourselves- and others didn’t put us – under pressure! Getting older is a blessing. I find that sleep is the best protector and repairer of beauty…I look and feel so much better when I get enough sleep. I cleanse and moisturise with Aloe Vera at night and keep my skin in good shape but when I’m well rested and hydrated, I don’t need to do so much. Dear women, you are beautiful, and you are enough!

  14. LeaTheFrench says:

    There’s nothing that needs fixing here, she’s a radiant, gorgeous woman aging extremely gracefully. That surgeon should be ashamed of himself.

  15. AnneL says:

    What an invasive thing to do to a woman! Screw that surgeon, ugh.

    She’s again beautifully and on her own terms. People who want Botox, lifts etc. should go ahead and get them if it makes them feel better, but no one should be telling them to do it. And there are a lot of walking cautionary tales out there reminding us all not to overdo the work. At some point it makes you look worse, not better.

    I do a lot of skin care (with SPF being the most important thing) because my skin is fair, dry and delicate and I’ve been thinking about wrinkles since I was in my teens. One of my older sisters smokes, the other used to tan way too much, and the impact on their skin started to show by the time they were in their early twenties. So I wanted to avoid that. But I don’t pamper my skin to look younger, just to look better, if that makes sense. I have no problem being the age I am.

  16. Julia K says:

    It wasn’t until I read what she said about being shamed for the natural process of aging, that I realized that what I felt many years ago was “shame”. In my 40’s, my salt and pepper hair was more salt than pepper. I was making rounds with a doctor who I had known for many years. He told me that I used to be so pretty but my grey hair was aging me and not attractive. I am embarrassed to say I went to a colorist and had my hair colored from that day until Covid hit when I grew it out. I now feel ashamed ( and angry) that I allowed this one person ‘s opinion to have so much control over me. My hope is that younger people will see this as a cautionary tale and see their own worth and value their own appearance.

    • Jo says:

      More often than not people project whatever is going on in their head into people. Maybe his mum had a ton of self-hatred as she grew older, maybe he had issues himself about ageing. But it was not about you. However, don’t feel shame, maybe he tapped I to an insecurity you had and you weren’t ready for your grey hair. However I turn this story around, he is the only one who is in the wrong. People have such audacity. I swear.

    • Deering24 says:

      I’ve suspected for a while that a lot of doctors actually hate women. That attitude seems baked in medical school training. And the field has a long ghastly tradition of doctors acting like they are giving the word of God to women.

  17. girl_ninja says:

    Ugh. Just leave us alone. I am a black woman and I am on the cusp of fifty and have heard (and still do) my whole life that I look way younger than I do. I found that the older I get I crave those comments and I HATE that. If I’m lucky, I am going to live a long healthy life. That involves getting wrinkles, shrinking and becoming frail. I just want to enjoy my body and my face and be left alone.

    The gall of that doctor to pick apart Paulina. Disgusting.

  18. Well Wisher says:

    I look at those images of Paulina and think what beautiful eyes, the structure of the face, lovely skin etc.
    Simply beautiful.
    It is looking at the idea of love, one does not see the effects of passing time, once the love endures.

    Now if women can see themselves from within. No marketplace value. Take time and be brave enough to look within with self love, cultivate grace and embrace your vulnerability.

    The marketplace and its emphasis on currency and scarcity will be in the rear view mirror, just where it belongs.

    Understanding that you are enough “be kind to yourself, and others”.

  19. candy says:

    “Every time you catch yourself thinking or saying “you know, you should…” to a friend, stop for a moment.” — THIS.

    I had a friend like this and when I politely asked her to stop giving me advice, she got upset and told me that I was being oversensitive and she was only trying to be helpful. I told her I was ending the friendship. It was hard but her constant unwelcomed feedback became insufferable to me as I got older. Women really grow into their own self confidence and self love, and it becomes more clear what your boundaries are.

  20. DiegoInSF says:

    This is Her new shtick, she was calling herself I’m in between JLo and Betty white, since The great Betty white passed she can’t do that anymore, I honestly think she seeks these posts to get exposure and interviews.

  21. Jaded says:

    I’m about to turn 70 and gave up worrying about aging years ago. It happens. You can still be beautiful at any age with grey hair, cellulite and wrinkles. Just be healthy, eat well, exercise, stay out of the sun and use good skin care products. Inner beauty is more important at the end of the day and Paulina has it in spades. Madonna, by comparison, looks like a cheap blow-up doll because she has no inner beauty to fall back on.

  22. og bella says:

    All of this!! The changes in my mid-50s is jarring, but I will still take it over looking like Madge or a KKKardashian.

  23. kirk says:

    Wow. Thanks for that blast from the past (says the old crone who’s gotten wrinkles without character). I’d totally forgotten Jean Smart was on Designing Women! Re: shaming IIRC everybody shamed DW Delta Burke for being too heavy, chubby, fat, whatever. Somebody made some snide comment to her husband. He said he thought she was gorgeous, loved her, appreciated her generous spirit, etc.

    Great message from Paulina Porizkova about friends.

  24. Surly Gale says:

    It’s her mind and ability to share wisdom that I admire. How she looks relates to her work, to skin care being a priority because it’s her work. The beauty was a gift. Not something she’s earned. The laugh lines, the query lines, the lines reflecting the hurts and sadness she’s accumulated along the way, those all tell me she’s a woman who has earned her way through a mine field of mind-fuchs and survived. It’s brave to share her thoughts about it and the wisdom earned. She expresses herself thoughtfully and coherently. Hits a nerve, for sure.