We chat with model Justina Pons about standing out in a world that expects everyone to be perfect copies of each other.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if all women reached a day of epiphany when they all realized “my body is supernatural.” This is the epiphany that Justina Pons had. You naturally may think, wow, that’s fantastic, everyone must have applauded her.
Ironically, that that is not what happened – Justina faced challenges from her culture and family, the industry she wanted to enter, and society at large.
After the epiphany, Justina left her pursuit of a career in economics and chose the avenues of modeling and social media to get across her personally branded message. It was a big decision by a young lady, to turn her back on a stable career path, which has a good steady income and society approval, to pursue her belief in her supernatural body and her right to express her sexuality and femininity in photographs.
This expression she believes is natural, feminine power that shouldn’t be labeled as vulgar, which is very often the case. It is astounding that a female being sexually comfortable is still labeled vulgar in the 21st century, whereas a male is labeled sexy.
There is a terrifying statistic, issued by the worldbank.org, which states that 35% of women and girls are subjected to gender-based violence (GBV) in their lifetime. It quite rightly calls it a pandemic. If a woman looks too sexy and she is targeted and then labeled as “having had it coming to her.” Through her passion that celebrates the feminine form, Justina challenges these labels.
In addition to personal style limitations, the modeling and entertainment industry has been commented on as having very restrictive parameters, including instructions to adult female models to diet down to size 6. A few years ago there was a big wave of publicity about agencies, designers, and clients stating they will no longer ask for near-anorexic bodies.
And that has happened; the industry is no longer asked for dieting. Go up a size, however, and the casting calls will stop.
Justina also confronts the industry’s age limit, as well as its limitations regarding personal expression. At 27, she is considered “middle-aged” for the modeling industry, and she also chose to decorate her arms with some beautiful tattoos – both are issues that prevent models from succeeding in the industry.
At the incredibly slim size of 7, with her preferred style of body proud, feminine sexuality, her beautiful tattooed arms, and her smoldering good looks, Justina is stamping down those limitations and has built her own market. Today, she boasts more than 200,000 followers just on Instagram alone.
It is a bit of a chicken and egg situation with the dilemma Justina has highlighted. The philosophical argument asks if society is driving the decisions of the marketers/agencies OR are the agencies/marketers driving the opinion of society.
Justina is not agonizing over it, she has taken her belief in herself and her image of the beauty and acceptability of strong, feminine sexuality, and she has built her own brand. And the market is LOVING her! She believes it’s her right, and the right of every woman globally, to be delighted by her body, to feel the power of her body, and to not feel like a lesser being if you are pleased in a very sensual representation of yourself.
For this reason, she offers critical advice to girls wanting to enter the modeling industry. First and foremost, be yourself. Then, love that self, and keep that image of you precious. Don’t pretzel yourself into something that you have to pretend to be. That will not be sustainable, which will not give you a happy life. And if you are not happy, what is the point of it all?
Praise yourself because the industry and the market will not praise you. You will be criticized from angles you didn’t know existed. And usually from people who are not working as hard as you, who are not as beautiful as you, and who are not as visionary as you are.
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