It’s not uncommon for us to envy other people’s lives. We’re human, and sometimes it’s okay to feel a little jealous. The thing is, though, those people whom we envy are just humans as well. They eat, sleep, cry, laugh, have good times and bad times just like we do. The problem is that we often forget that about people we look up to and idolize. With the age of social media, most of the time we only get to see what they want us to see. We believe what the news tells us to believe, and then we lie in bed at night wishing we had the same luxuries they have. But, you know what, that’s not reality isn’t it? Every day we wake up to find our smartphones, check our Facebook or Instagram accounts and scroll through pictures over pictures of perfect people and their perfect lives wishing it was us instead of them. Until one Instagram account of a young model broke that trend of perfection and decided to be real instead.
Meet Paola Antonini, and this is her perfectly imperfect life story.
Paola Antonini Franca Costa is a Brazilian model and social media personality. She was born on May 19, 1994, and was raised in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She was blessed with beauty and an incredible personality which led to her modeling career and eventually becoming a social media influencer. It wasn’t just her looks that got her famous online, but also her amazing charisma. Paola had such positivity to her that more than just translates in her Instagram pictures. In no time, she has amassed a following thanks to her positive spirit. To her followers, she was a goddess. A perfect symbol of grace, beauty, and confidence.
And then, an accident.
It was 2014, just after Christmas celebrations. Paola and her boyfriend had plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve somewhere else and was just finishing loading their luggage into her car. All of a sudden, a drunk driver hit Paola. The impact was harsh and it left her leg crushed. Paola was rushed to a hospital where doctors tried their hardest to save her leg. But after four attempts in surgery, it was decided that her leg needed to be amputated below the knee. Paola went through a lot of physiotherapies to help restore her movement and function. And just as she was starting to recover and learn how to walk again, one more bad news hit her. According to her doctors as well as to other solicited medical advice, she was forced to have another amputation, this time above her knee. This led to another cycle of challenging physiotherapy and finally, to the fitting of her prosthesis.
For some people, going through such a tragic experience would end up breaking them apart. Studies have shown that car accidents, just like many other undesirable events, can be traumatizing. There are short-term and long-term effects on a victim, both physically and emotionally. In Paola’s case, especially, it would be easy to expect the devastation she would have felt. After all, she’s a model. How can a model continue to walk down the runway or even attempt to do different poses with just one leg? Well, all that didn’t seem to affect Paola.
She’s human, yes. Of course, she felt very sad and hurt. Paola even said during an interview with Brazilian news site Veja BH that “I’d never felt such intense pain in my life.”. But that didn’t stop her from recovering and continue living her life the way God has planned it for her. Paola chose to look at it as a glass-half-full situation and she confirmed that perspective by saying that she “chose not to look to see the size of the damage, but knew it was serious”. Despite all the devastating occurrences that happened to her in what felt like a blink of an eye, she made the decision not to hide her situation from anyone. Instead, she took any sense of doubt and embarrassment and turned it into something more meaningful, not just for her but to others as well.
Since she has already established a good amount of following on the social media platform Instagram, Paola used that as a channel to spread positivity even more than what she has shared before. Rather than hide behind the comforts and safety of her home, she took to Instagram, a few days after her accident, to post a picture of a quote with the caption saying: “Always put your hope in God. I wanted to thank you very much for the prayers and for all the affection. I do not see any of this as a tragedy, but rather as a new chance at life. Thank you so much for keeping me alive, and in the end, that’s what really matters.”. That post now has 11,659 likes, over 700 comments, and has given inspiration to her now 2 million followers.
More than 3 years have passed since the accident and Paola Antonini continues to spread the positivity and shares her gratitude to everyone who has supported her through those difficult times. In return, her loving followers shower Paola with their never-ending support, saying how amazing she is, how she’s an inspiration, how she motivates them to be better and to live life to the fullest, and not to take anything or anyone for granted. Paola Antonini is not only a model due to her career in Fashion, she is a model because she chose to be herself. She chose to make herself and her case known for everyone to see and judge, not because she’s bragging, but because she wants to uplift those who have gone through the same thing as she had.
She’s a model because she leads through motivation and uplifting people’s spirits, assuring them that everything will eventually get better if it isn’t at the moment.She was brave enough to celebrate her prosthesis even though she could have easily gone into hiding and turn her back on everyone and on being a model and a social media influencer. She’s strong because she did not let what happened to her define her and her future. She’s a model because she’s human, and that’s how people relate to one another. More than that, it’s how people inspire each other.
Today, Paola continues to make the most out of her second chance at life, the best way she can. She’s done countless interviews with local and international networks and publications talking about her amazing journey, one of which was Glamour (Brazil), where she decided to do her very first tell-all feature after the accident. Now, she’s a columnist for that same magazine. She was also featured in the popular magazine, GQ (Brazil), where she expressed how she thought that the prosthesis is beautiful and that she has never found herself less sexy or less beautiful because of it. She was also given the opportunity to be a speaker for a TedxTalks segment, doing what she does best which is to motivate and inspire. She is back to modeling as well, proving just how much she wanted to be regarded as “a model for other amputees”. Paola made her way around the fashion industry in Brazil once again, and has become a favorite on the runway ever since. Aside from her modeling career, she also decided to give some focus on her education. She went on to learn English at IELS (Institute of English Language Studies) Malta, one of the leading English language schools in the country. The time she spent there was considered “an unforgettable time”, according to Paola’s interview with the school which was published on YouTube on May 12, 2016. While completing her language course, Paola visited other nearby places such as Gozo and Comino, which are also known as the Sister Islands of Malta. For more about her stay in Malta, here’s the interview.
It’s amazing how life works, especially when one thing is taken from you, but then another, and sometimes much more, is given back to you. Now, Paola is close to finishing her Journalism degree while still managing to have time for modeling, being a social media influencer, and an inspiration to all. Lately, she has worked for campaigns with Neutrogena, The Body Shop, Under Armour, and Nissan, either as a model or an ambassador. Whenever she’s free, she enjoys reading, going to the beach, exercising, playing sports, and just spending time with the people she loves.