When Rachel contacted me about starting a modelling career in your forties, I was intrigued. So I popped over to her website and knew I wanted to feature her on my blog. I love to celebrate the individual beauty of women inside and out. We all have it but things like traditional and social media not to mention pornography and the like convince us extraordinary women over and over that we are not good enough. Here is Rachel’s story in her own words.
Starting a modelling career in your forties
“My name is Rachel and 3 years ago aged 46 I began a new career as a model. Imposter syndrome was real as a grey haired, curvy sized 14-16 older model stepping in to unknown territory. I was fortunate to become represented by Bridge models which is a specific curve agency and they have helped me through some of the challenges that the modelling agency can throw at you. I am loving my new career path and have really learnt to embrace my body and become passionate about encouraging women, particularly over 40 to regain some body confidence back.
I would never have thought about modelling in my earlier years, I was very self-conscious and lacked confidence in my twenties and thirties. It wasn’t until I hit 40 that my attitude towards my body started to change. I really struggled to feel comfortable with my body and particularly the size of my chest by the end of school I was already a 34DD and am now a 34G. I was surrounded by lovely friends who were naturally very slim, and I tried every diet going, from the grapefruit diet to detox teas to whatever was the latest miracle worker. I even booked to have a breast reduction in my thirties as I was unhappy in my body. I am so glad that I changed mind at the last minute.
I got divorced aged 39 and suddenly had to re-find myself and realised that I had a second chance to embrace life. I went back to university and gained a degree, threw myself out of planes doing tandem skydives, immersed myself in charity work and travelled. This was the start of gaining new confidence and self- belief in my abilities and made me realise the size of my body really played no part in it. I know I’m not the only women that relentlessly weighed themselves every day and the number on the scales would be the marker for the mood of the day. Lost weight left me feeling great then the next day gained and felt rubbish about myself. I am so happy to say I no longer weigh myself and its liberating.
The real lightbulb moment for me came after I had already started modelling, mostly beauty and lifestyle work and the Loose Women ‘My Body My Story’ campaign came out. We saw images of the Loose Women team in their underwear completely untouched to highlight how we are all different, we all have our own stories and to try and stop our judgement on each other and most importantly of ourselves. A local photographer, Mya Fawcett, placed an ad on Facebook for any women that would be up for recreating the image and I decided to say yes. So off I went one Sunday afternoon to meet 14 other women that I had never met before to spend the afternoon being photographed in our bra and knickers. I’m not going to lie champagne helped us all but what I came away with was a realisation that we all spend so much wasted time worrying about our bodies and what we see as imperfections. This group of women embraced each other, we all had different stories, some more obvious than others, but we all had that common ground of massive insecurity. That day completely liberated me and had a profound effect on how I saw things. That day would have been enough but then the Loose Women team picked up on the photo on social media and invited us down to London to recreate the photo live on the show. If ever I get scared about anything after that I hold that memory close
I have continued to challenge my body confidence from taking part in the Real Catwalk wearing my bikini in the middle of Trafalgar Square, London to standing in shop windows modelling swimwear. I recently took part in a photoshoot in swimwear and stood in a lingerie shop window for 2 hours, I have lived in the same small town in Yorkshire all my life and would never in a million years have agreed to this a few years ago. What drives me to do this is talking to other women who really struggle with their body confidence. If the media portrayed a more diverse fair representation of women in midlife, then less women would have these confidence issues. I am classed as a plus size model which doesn’t make sense when you think the average size in the UK is a size 16. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk in to a lingerie store as a woman in your later life and not just be bombarded with young slim models which we can no longer relate too and instantly demoralises you from going to find something you might look good in. If I can encourage other women to feel less self-conscious and stop worrying about it then I think that’s amazing. I’ve had real pinch myself moments in the last three years, from modelling swimwear alongside Ashley Graham to activewear shoots with Davina McCall and am definitely on a mission to remind the industry that women over 40 are not invisible. I have never liked the term ‘real’ women as we all are of course, but I do see the need for there to be true representation of women, cellulite and all in advertising because it can have a huge impact on our mental well-being. I am proud to be an ambassador for the Be Real campaign that works hard towards changing attitudes to body image and help put health above appearance and be confident in our bodies.
So next time you are about berate your body why not stop and give yourself a pat on the back instead!”
Would you consider starting a modelling career in your forties?