Like essentially every millennial woman who is not living on some type of religious compound and therefore cut off from modern entertainment this summer, I have been more than a little obsessed with the reboot of Queer Eye. I, too, have been consistently moved to tears by the coaxing of the emotionally-mute, (usually) straight men out of their hermit crab shells of toxic masculinity. I have laughed along with Jonathan Van Ness as he explains to a man who has never used a grooming product you can’t buy at a gas station how to use a toner; I have admired Tan France’s ability to turn the aesthetic of “bloated suburban dad on vacation in his Tommy Bahama shirts” into something sexy and modern; I have smiled along blankly as Karamo does  with the men while sitting on a park bench, I have even empathized deeply as Bobby is largely cut out of the show because he is too busy redoing an entire ranch house in the span of 48 hours while the rest of the team is riding around in the SUV to Hoku’s “Perfect Day.”
But again, like most of us who have come to watch the show, I have been in many ways most intrigued by Antoni. Is it because he is blankly hot in the way that makes you forget what he looks like the second you turn your eyes away from him? Yes. Is it because he has a professional background that is extremely ??? and manifests in one of the funnier IMDb pages on the internet (note the three consecutive acting credits on, respectively, “Daddy’s Boy,” “Blood Surf,” and — perhaps most distressingly — “Horror Time”)? Yes. Is it because the conspiracy theories that he cannot cook seem completely credible? Also very much yes. But for me, the intrigue around Antoni comes largely from his Instagram, a place of such unfettered male thirst and questionably-disclosed #sponcon that it can only be strangely motivational. Antoni’s Instagram is a place where all things are possible, where there is no sadness, where you are only a coyly exposed pec and a Vita Coco away from manifesting your best self at any given time.
Antoni’s Instagram is a place that has provided me so many vital life lessons as an entrepreneur, as a social media-user, and as a human being trying to muddle my way through this life the way one might muddle through a few chunks of fresh grapefruit and diced jalapeño to make an Avion™ Spicy Summer Paloma©, presented in partnership with Hanes™.
His Instagram has given me so much, and the least I can do is share it with you, in these five life lessons I have learned from Antoni Porowski’s Instagram.
1. Push your boundaries to wear what makes you feel good.
Antoni frequently wears outfits that can only be described as “Carrie Bradshaw Homme,” in the way that they are completely nonsensical on their own merits, but work because the person wearing them either is a size double-zero (in the case of Carrie) or distressingly good-looking (in the case of Antoni). The clothes serve as a constant sartorial humblebrag, a reminder that if you were to wear something like this, people would take sneak photos of you on the subway and tweet them with the caption “welcome to New York lmaooo” followed by several cry-laughing emoji. Just observe the above outfit, an incomprehensible schoolboy ensemble which fits as if it were stolen from a literal schoolboy, accompanied by glasses that would make the majority of facial structures look like Mitch McConnell. He looks like an extra from Spring Awakening, if the costume director suddenly decided the uniforms weren’t slutty enough. It is objectively ridiculous, and yet it works, because it’s Antoni.
And while I do not kid myself into thinking I will ever have the bone structure or body fat percentage necessary to move around in society in these kinds of #lewks without attracting extreme mockery, if he can get away with this, at the very least I can push the boundaries of my own wardrobe much further than I currently do. The next time I am debating wearing the bright-red pants I love but which make me wonder if I look like an heirloom tomato, I can remind myself, “Hey, Antoni wears promotional hoodies cut off just below the nipple and feels great about it. I can wear the red pants.”
2. It doesn’t matter if you know what you’re doing, as long as you look like you do.
Is Antoni a good tennis player? Has he ever played a game of tennis? Does he know what he is holding, or was he simply handed what was in his mind a random assortment of props, to which he smiled gently and said “looks great, love it :)” to the art director? We will never know these answers. But what matters is that — whether he is adding completely dystopian ingredients to a guacamole, posing with sports equipment, or holding an animal in ways likely discouraged by the ASPCA — Antoni commits. He never walks in a room and feels as if he doesn’t belong there, he will walk straight into your kitchen with the authority wielded by the title “Food Expert” and proceed to “teach” you how to make a grilled cheese. And you will like it, because his swishy air of confidence and knowing gaze will make you think, “Actually, I probably didn’t know how to make a grilled cheese — thank you for taking the time to teach me, Antoni.”
And in my own life, I need to do the same. I need to walk into a room where I may normally be fighting off Impostor Syndrome and totally own it, confident in my own abilities to rise to the occasion and, at the very least, fake my way through what needs to get done. That confidence is half the battle, and if I can believe in myself the way someone whose proficiency with ingredients begins and ends at avocados can believe they are a “Food Expert,” anything is truly possible for me.
3. Always take time to appreciate yourself.
While, between his full-time gig with Queer Eye and his endless capacity to promote products on social media, one would assume that Antoni has a fairly packed schedule, the man seems to be able to make time on an almost-daily basis for extremely involved, editorial photoshoots. He is constantly posting overwhelming bursts of pictures of himself (usually with varying degrees of his torso exposed). While the average person might, in addition to limiting their portrait sessions to maybe once or twice a week, only select the top picks for fear of seeming too self-indulgent, Antoni has no such reservations. He will post nearly every single photo from a shoot, with (at the very most) an increasingly-abashed accompanying caption along the lines of “Okay last one I promise, but I’m just so in love with this editorial :P.” Listen, we know what he is so in love with, and it is clearly his own physical form. Which is understandable. But the result is that we are treated to a ceaseless stream of Antoni from every conceivable angle, peppered occasionally by a picture of food which he only questionably had a hand in preparing, but which is necessary to maintain his thin pretense of “Food Expert.”
We are expected to believe that he is spending at least an equal amount of time cooking as he is standing in front of a camera, frowning slightly while wearing a large cardigan that reveals one and a half nipples, but this seems almost physically impossible. His real job is clearly bathing himself and us in his own chiseled image, and that is frankly okay.
What’s more important, though, is the takeaway for all of us. While we are certainly never going to get to a place where it is economically or artistically feasible to constantly be featured in professional photoshoots, we could all do with a little more time on the calendar carved out for “remembering how great we are.” Even just a moment or two in your bedroom mirror in flattering lighting each morning, turning to your best angle and thinking “Hey, I’m not so bad” can do a world of good. The occasional selfie in an outfit that makes you feel your best, or lighting that makes your skin look deceptively dewy, can be an ego boost for the whole day that reverberates through your life at large. We will never be Antoni’s level of Just So Amped To Be In A Human Body, but we can get closer than we are today.
4. Get. Your. Money. Without. Shame.
Listen, let’s be clear. I own a company that is almost exclusively monetized through advertising — I am no stranger to the siren song of #sponcon. Nor am I in any way begrudging the Fab 5 for cashing in relentlessly on the zeitgeist of their show like five well-dressed children in that flying money machine you got to stand in for 20 seconds if you sold like 10k of merch at a school fundraiser. I would absolutely be doing the same thing in their shoes. But none of them have been so brazen as Antoni in descending the diamond mine of his newfound fame with a head lamp and pickaxe, chipping everything off as he goes. His Instagram is a place of copious and often hilariously strained brand collabs, and there is never an ounce of apologetic or abashed voice to his constant monetizing. Antoni owns it: he knows this is his moment, and damn if he is not going to make every dollar and get every lifetime supply of underwear available to him while it lasts.
Frankly, we should all be more like this. Late capitalism is tough on all of us enough as it is — most of us are having enough trouble just getting by or paying down those student loans without the bone structure and media exposure required to get fifty thousand dollars for awkwardly taking a picture holding a bottle of cold brew. We have to make things work the way we can, and seize the opportunities available to us. It’s not our job to apologize to anyone for making the best of our assets and opportunities. Antoni would never judge us for #making #that #money, so we should never judge ourselves for taking that extra gig or doing that work someone might consider “beneath us.” As long as Antoni is proudly hocking disgusting-sounding cauliflower baking mix, there is simply is no such thing.
5. Do not be afraid to take risks.
In doing the deep-dive of Antoni’s ‘gram that this article necessitated, I stumbled upon this largely-forgotten era in the Antoni saga, his seemingly months-long flirtation with this incredibly misguided, Sick Boy-from-Trainspotting-esque bleach-blond hair from early last year. There are many pictures of him with this coif, meaning on some level he felt empowered by it and was in no way dissuaded by how clearly it makes him look like a bartender in Bushwick who would steal money out of your wallet on his way out of your apartment after spending what seemed like a magical night together. He wanted it, he owned it, and he never once questioned his ability to pull it off.
I admit that, whether appearance-wise or with the actual details of my life, I tend to be risk-averse. I wear the most decidedly-normie clothes, I am a creature of profound and ceaselessly boring routines, I like going to the same restaurants and even destinations when I travel, and my social group has remained largely the same for years on end. My life is a feathered nest of comfort from which I am loathe to step even a few inches outside. But seeing the degree to which Antoni has clearly thrown caution (and matching to his skin tone) out the window and leaned so fully into his choice, I realize that I could be doing it more myself. I could be taking those risks, doing more things which scare me, perhaps even dyeing my hair a color that in no way flatters me just because I can.
I, too, can live my best life. I can fly, Icarus-like, to the warm, #branded sun that is Antoni’s Instagram. With a little more bravery, some photogenic cookware, and the right lighting, I, too, can have it all.
Featured image via Instagram.