A leaked picture of Cindy Crawford in all her unairbrushed glory was Twitter’s Valentine’s gift to the world over the weekend.
The former Super, resplendent in a designer bra, knickers and feathery coat, is throwing back her head like only a woman consistently voted the ‘world’s sexiest’ can, for a 2013 Marie Claire spread that was never published.
Being an image unaltered by Photoshop’s sanitising tools, her stomach and thighs look like they belong to her - and we seized on that greedily.
Why? Crawford is 48 and pap shots of her in a bikini have previously confirmed that while she looks pretty similar to her catwalk years, she did not inexplicably stop ageing at 22 like some kind of supermodel Dorian Gray.
But while we’re used to those constant 'gotcha!' tabloid snaps of celebrities caught off-guard at the beach, we're deprived of realistic-looking bodies in glossy editorials.
Seeing such a famous woman striking a proud, confident, high-fashion pose - a look worthy of a fashion shoot - was what made us want to hit the share button on Crawford's unairbrushed picture. Not because we were shocked that her body looks slightly older than it did 20 years ago.
Stylist's associate editor (beauty) Joanna McGarry believes that the picture has shone a light on reality.
“Seeing stretchmarks and anything less than iron-taut abs in the pages of a magazine shouldn't be shocking in 2015, but it is.
“Cindy Crawford is a woman in her forties, with a body that she's worked hard on and that has worked hard for her; bearing her two children and maintaining an incredible level of fitness beyond the gift of youth.
“In this picture I see self-acceptance, defiance and strength. And for that alone, it is beautiful.”
As liberating as it was to see - it's worth remembering that the picture was not meant for publication.
The image was initially tweeted by ITV News anchor Charlene White, who was mistakenly under the impression it was to feature in an upcoming issue.
Marie Claire released a statement on its website confirming the image was from 2013, adding that it shows "a body that defies expectations - it is real, it is honest, and it is gorgeous."
Crawford has so far kept quiet about it all.
However, her husband Rande Gerber appeared to respond for her by posting his own shot of the model:
A photo posted by Rande Gerber (@randegerber) on
It's not clear when this bikini shot was taken but there's every chance it was very recently because Crawford, like everyone, looks different depending on lighting, angles, movement etc.
Whether the model thinks the leaked picture is flattering to her real figure or not, it certainly resonated with thousands of women starved of the reality of honest beauty.
Words: Anna Pollitt. Images: Twitter, Getty.