Caleido interviews Licia Fertz (aka Buongiorno Nonna), aged model and Italy’s oldest influencer (as she likes to call herself). Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here
Diary of: @liciafertz
1. At the age of 90, you opened an Instagram profile, not out of a desire to show off but to put a smile on your face at a difficult time in your life (serious bereavement). Why did you choose this path?
I didn’t choose it, my grandson Elo pointed it out. He couldn’t bear to see me depressed about the death of my husband Aldo after 64 years of marriage and, above all, about feeling useless. I had completely devoted the last 12 years of my life to him; to help him with the illness that had made him dependent, I had stopped doing anything: going out, seeing friends… but I had always done it with a smile. A smile that had gone with him.
2. When you opened it, was there anything that intimidated you about this world? Now, some time later, what do you like most about this activity?
When my nephew secretly opened my Instagram profile, I barely knew what the Internet was. But I wasn’t prejudiced. And I was doing well. Staying at home and communicating with the world was the best anti-depressant for me. Even today, receiving messages in which people tell me stories, show me affection and ask me for advice is an immense gift to me. I feel useful again and an active part of this world. Digital but with emotions that are more real than ever.
Licia & Elio | @liciafertz
3. Imagining your followers (130,000 people) as if they were an army of your grandchildren, what would be your starting point? Can you tell us about it?
I have always taught my grandchildren to look for their own uniqueness, without being conditioned by the fashions of the moment and the desire for acceptance at all costs. I do the same with my virtual grandchildren, all the more so since we meet in a context that can offer unreal models of beauty. Showing myself unfiltered, amidst the signs of time and my moments of happiness, I hope will help to make young people less afraid of growing old, both mentally and physically. This is my most important legacy: to shout to the world that it is not the third age, but the third life and it can be extraordinary.
4. In this issue we talk about “plural beauties”, because there is no single canon of beauty. What does beauty mean to you? Looking back on your life, how has your concept of beauty changed over the years?
Beauty for me means living better, satisfying the eye and the soul with caresses. I like beauty of any kind. I like the beauty of nature, of the body, of art… I like all beautiful things in general, everything that arouses positive feelings in me. If I said that my body has always aroused them too, I would be lying. It’s like when you love summer as a child and you only see the flaws of the other seasons. Then, one day, all of a sudden, you learn to appreciate the beauty of each month and summer stops being the yardstick. When the same thing happens with your body in your twenties, then you are well on your way to accepting yourself and being happy. I have two people to thank for coming to this realization: my therapist and my husband Aldo, who always made me feel so attractive that I learned to see myself through his eyes.
5. On social media, especially on Instagram, aesthetic perfection often becomes a necessary condition to be accepted/appreciated/followed: a term of comparison that is often too hard to bear for many young people. Some speak of a real social plague. What would you say to those who suffer from this mechanism?
Aesthetic perfection and exaggerated models have always existed. Today they are on Instagram, at my age they were in Epocamagazine or others. Today we use filters, in my day corsets and other instruments of torture to shape the body. Self-esteem and self-love are always the best defence. If they are particularly hidden, a good psychotherapist can help us find them. However, a moment to confront one’s self, I believe, is highly advisable above all else.
6. Behind your “new job” I find a strong fighting spirit. Do you consider yourself an activist? A feminist? What are the battles that give you the strength and desire to fight?
I believe that anyone who identifies a problem and does nothing to solve it is part of the problem. If that means activism, I have always been an activist. I can’t just stand by and watch, otherwise I don’t sleep well at night. I can’t stand discrimination, in all its forms. And knowing that I can contribute to breaking them down gives me precious energy every day.
7. In your private life, when your mobile phone is switched off, what do you like to do? What are your main passions?
Everything. As long as I’m doing something. I can’t sit still, so much so that I’ve never taken an afternoon nap. I’m curious and I love seeing new things. Whether it’s a city, a museum, a shop, a forest… I thrive on new stimuli. At my age I can’t make any plans. Today I’m here, tomorrow who knows. And this uncertainty helps me to enjoy every single day even more, taking care not to waste it.
9. Now let me talk about myself: change often frightens me. How would you reassure me? How do you deal with it so actively? Is there anything that frightens or intimidates you?
I find it hard to answer because I really can’t understand how change can scare you. It intrigues me, what terrifies me is the idea that everything will stay the same. What a bore! A phrase I love is ‘change is never painful, only resistance to change is’. Those who struggle to grasp the meaning of this phrase would do well to get help from a good psychotherapist.
10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory attached to it? Would you send us a photo taken by you?
None. Really no one. I’m not attached to phisical objects, I’d risk being like the Etruscans who put everything in the tomb. What’s the point? You can live a lighter life without being attached to objects. I’ve taken very few photos in my life, perhaps only of my husband and Marina when she was little. If I find one, I’ll be happy to send it to you.