We started this audiobook anticipating gleaning beauty secrets from the iconic Italian It-Girl actress and author, Sophia Loren. Now in her 8th decade of life, Sophia is still as beautiful as ever. In this lengthy (over 10 and a half hours!) whole-hearted account of her life, Sophia did share some of her secrets to beauty—it just wasn’t what we thought.
After gracing the movie screens for over 60 years with her stellar smile, sensuality and a chic cat eye, she had much to tell. In her memoirs she shares from her sea of memories, and talked little about physical beauty—but emanated, instead, a beautiful life.
In her story, Sophia shifts the focus off of her renowned external beauty and emphasizes her self acceptance, passion, hard work and perseverance.
She knew all too well about real hardships; Despite growing up in poverty during WWII in Italy with frequent bombings, the pangs of starvation as a child, the absence of a father (who barely acknowledged her existence), the stigma of being an illegitimate child—she stepped into adulthood with grace, determination and rigour to rise up out of her begininnings and make the most of her life.
I had pulled through another challenge. Once more, I discovered that fear and vulnerability can help you if you pair them with hard work and discipline.
After winning second place in a beauty pageant at 14-years-old, her self-awareness led her to follow her passion and gifting for acting. Taking acting lessons and starting off as an Extra, Sophia climbed the cinematic ladder all the way to receiveing an Oscar among many other notable awards.
I instead was completely forward looking, and nothing could stop me now.
Sophia never succumbed to the pressure to have a nose job. Instead, she embraced the features that made her stand out. From photos, it seems she was always smiling—a large uninhibited smile. Sophia related to the Mona Lisa’s knowing, and charming smile; interpreting it as a sense of inner serenity. She loved a quote by George Cukor: “There is no beauty that can compete with the knowledge and acceptance of who we really are.”
Family. Deep inside Sophia desperately wanted to get married and have children. She longed for a normal life of motherhood, and had a hard time getting pregnant and suffered a miscarriage before she had her first son (Carlo) at age 29 and then another son (Edoardo) 4 years later.
Sophia remained inseparable with her sister, her best friend, who was often on set with her and could be seen dancing with the crew and singing at parties alongside celebrities such as Frank Sinatra.
On love. Sophia ended up marrying the man, Carlo Ponti, who had originally scouted her at her first beauty pageant when she was 14. Twenty-two years her senior, they married approximately 7 years after their first encounter at the pageant, (and besides a necessary legal annulment of their Mexican marriage,) they remained together until Ponti’s death at 94 years old in 2007.
Friendships. Sophia had many close friends, many of whom were co-stars and directors. She loved well, and was well loved. Carry Grant even brazenly pursued her with flowers and love letters—even while she was engaged to her fiancé Carlo Ponti.
Life is never as exactly you might expect it to be. Dreams make way for reality which often surprises you.
On Style. Sophia liked to stick with her classic silhouettes. Her favourite designer was “King” Georgio Armani. She loved how he interprets what is classical, simple and natural; that his style can’t be ruffled by sensationalism, that it is “pure creativity to be worn, to be used for life.” She liked the way that when you slip on one of his designs you feel good, you feel rich and you don’t even need a mirror to know the outfit fits you.
We are sure there is more to her all ready well-rounded story, secrets that she will keep close to her heart—as she even admits to burning her diary. We do get the picture that she had a vibrant and full life (Prison included!). After more than 10 hours of audio, we get to understand that Sophia’s beauty is indeed natural and a mambo mix of incredibly good genes, womanly wiles, self confidence and her own hard work to make herself into one of the most beloved and beautiful women known to the international film world.
On Beauty. Her response is straight common sense, a sense that is not so common these days amongst those obsessed with external beauty.
Each one must strike the right balance between rest and movement, activity and sleep, the pleasures of food and the taste for a healthy and well balanced diet. But the real fountain of youth is hidden in the imagination you draw upon to face every day challenges. It is in the passion for what you do and is the intelligence to which you exploit your own capacities and accept your own limits.
Although this is a wholesome and touching book by one of the greatest beauty legends, we know this book won’t be for everyone. It is lovely, but lengthy. “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: My Life” will be an ideal choice for those who have a long-haul international flight to take and love old hollywood movies. Sophia explains all of her movies and co-stars at great length. If you don’t have the time to take in the audiobook, go for 1 (or 2) out of fifty of the Italian bombshell’s famous films instead! Or try one of her other books: Women & Beauty (1984), Sophia: Living & Loving: Her Own Story (1979), Sophia Loren’s Recipes & Memoires (1998) and Sophia Style (2001).