In 1984, a then 18-year-old Paulina Porizkova was launched into stardom when she became the first woman from Central Europe to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
But according to a new Instagram post by the Czech-born Swedish model, this wasn’t the image that truly launched her illustrious career.
In honor of her 100th post on the social media site, 52-year-old Paulina shared a throwback photo of herself at 13 on Wednesday. And it isn’t just any photo, she explains in the caption. It’s the one that ‘changed my life.’
Young beauty: In honor of her 100th Instagram post, Paulina Porizkova shared this image of herself at 13, which launched her modeling career
Telling the tale: In the caption for the image, Paulina described how she was bullied at school in Sweden after fleeing communist Czechoslovakia
‘I was 13 and living with my mother and brother in Sweden after leaving communist Czechoslovakia,’ she said. ‘Kids at my new school were awful me because I was an immigrant; I was spit on and hit and called a “dirty communist” and worse.’
Luckily, Pauline found a group of girl who were ‘as unpopular as myself,’ named Petra, Charlotte and Christine. The latter of whom had aspirations to become a make-up artist.
‘And so one day we all got together and she painted our faces and took photos. The plan was to send the photos to modeling agencies in Paris to showcase her artistry,’ Paulina wrote.
‘When the photos were developed everyone looked lovely, but my friends were shocked by the photos of me. No one thought of me as pretty, but in the photos something magical had happened.’
Launched to fame: One of her friends at school had aspirations to become a make-up artist and enlisted Paulina’s help in modelling her looks
Tip top: The photos were sent into a modelling agency and caught the eye of John Casablancas, who offered Paulina (pictured in 1987) work in Paris
Superstardom: By 1984, Paulina had become the top model in Paris and became the first woman from Central Europe to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue
The image shared on Instagram shows Paulina looking far beyond her 13 years, lowering her eyes to show off lids covered in purple shadow, posing with feathers in her hair.
‘It was as if there was entirely new person captured by the lens. Christine sent off this photo (and others in the series).’
Soon after that, Paulina received a call inviting her to come meet the American founder of Elite Model Management, John Casablancas, in Copenhagen.
‘John was busy with a model competition in a mall; I met him for all of 15 seconds. He took one look at me and asked: want to go to Paris? As if I’d say no!’
Long in love: Paulina’s modelling career also led her to star in The Cars’ video for Drive, where she met her future husband, singer Ric Ocasek
Happy days: Paulina and Ric were married in 1989 and are parents to two sons, Jonathan, 23, and Oliver, 18
Still got it! The 52-year-old looks sensational in a bikini in this image taken on a beach in Hawaii last year
From there, success was swift and Paulina soon became Paris’ most in-demand model, which then led to her famous appearance on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
It also led to her appearing in the music video for The Cars’ single Drive, which led to her meeting her future husband, singer Ric Ocasek. The couple have been married since 1989 and have two sons together.
Paulina also revealed in her post that her friend Christine never ended up becoming a make-up artist, though ‘when I began working full-time in Paris I tried to get her to join me.’