January 7, 2022

Empowering Boudoir Photography

My top 5 reasons to say yes to a boudoir shoot.

I believe all women should have the opportunity to do an empowering boudoir shoot at least once in their life.

The term boudoir still appears attached to outdated ideas that women who choose this are merely doing it to please a man.  When I first started my modelling career I never imagined I would be comfortable modelling lingerie . I certainly wouldn't have been comfortable expressing the more sensual side of my personality when I was younger. From my own experience I've found it totally empowering.

I had the pleasure of talking with Jane Earnshaw,  the founder of Chique Studios,  a photography and make over business,  for the Out of the Bubble podcast. Jane inspires women to become more confident in front of the camera and embrace their natural beauty.I spent the day with Jane to hopefully help bust some of those fears away and show you just how accessible it is for everyone and what an impact it can have on someones confidence.

Here's my top 5 reasons why I think you should YES to a boudoir shoot

  • When do you get to spend the whole day being pampered?

From the minute you walk in to a good photographers studio you will be well looked after and made to feel special. I would say do your research when it comes to booking , check out there website, look at their photo gallery. Personally I love working with female photographers as I think they can relate to a woman's vulnerability. Try and work with a photographer that has a diverse range of images and women on their books. You may walk in feeling nervous but by the time the hair and make up team have finished you'll feel like a million dollars. Allowing yourself to step into a different world is so much fun.

Rachel Peru model lingerie shoot with Chique Studios

  • It will boost your confidence.

Lots of women struggle to feel happy in their bodies,  insecurity stops them thinking they will look good in the photos. We all have parts of our bodies that we aren't happy with

In 2016, the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence report interviewed 10,500 women and girls across 13 different countries. The results were staggering and women in the UK had the lowest body confidence scores in the world. Only 20% of women and young girls saying they liked the way they looked.

We ALL have amazing parts of ourselves that will always shine through on camera. Being honest with your photographer about your worries, prior to the shoot, will help you relax.  The photographer wants you to see just how naturally gorgeous you are and they will bring out the best in you.

 

  • It will help you connect with your sensuality, whatever that feels like to you.

Expressing your sensuality doesn't have to mean wearing lingerie and lace. You may feel more sensual wearing a trouser suit with a hint of cleavage showing. I actually think the term boudoir should be changed to empowerment. It's such an individual feeling.

We've all been conditioned to think that women after 40 need to hide our bodies away, that our bodies in midlife are perhaps something to be ashamed of. This can only leave women feeling invisible and lose confidence in themselves. I strongly believe we can and need to reclaim our ageing bodies back and learn to embrace them just as they are right now.

When I model lingerie and share my body confidence posts on social media 50% of the population maybe surprised to hear that I am not doing it to please their male gaze. The fact that a woman in lingerie may be viewed as sexy is merely a by-product and not the goal; I think it’s important for us all to remember that.

I do it to show other women that it is OK to celebrate and enjoy your body, no matter how old you are. It’s my choice to express myself this way and I am finally confident enough to own that. I hope you can too.

  • It will push you out of your comfort zone.

Yes stepping out of your comfort zone is a little scary but it's definitely where I've grown the most in the last ten years. I find it helps to build a new memory bank of life experiences that you can always call on if your having a bad self belief day. Having those beautiful images of yourself to go back to will give you that extra boost of confidence.

 

  • To celebrate just how fabulous you are

Doing a boudoir shoot can really be a way of showing your body some self love. A reminder just how amazing your body is showing up for you every day. Every wrinkle, every stretch mark, every scar tells a story of what makes you unique. Capturing that in a lingerie shoot is powerful and something to be celebrated.

(P.S If you're offered a glass of champagne on the shoot take it! You deserve it x)

“Feeling confident, being comfortable in your own skin - that’s what really makes you beautiful.”

#janeearnshaw #chiquestudios

 

You can also watch the behind the scenes video with Chique Studios HERE

Outfits- Pink suit @Zara

Pink bra @Playful Promises

Black Body- Figleaves #gifted

#empoweringwomen #bodyconfidence #bodypositive #embraceyourbody #midlifewomen #boudoirshoot #chiquestudios

 

December 29, 2021

Why I’m saying “NO” to New Year, New You

Let's drop the "New Year, new you" narrative.

I’ve already lost count of how many “join my diet” club invites I’ve had literally since Christmas Day morning along with those “New Year, New You” messages.

How about ...You are enough...just as you are...right now!

After years and years of forcing myself to try every diet going I came to realise that they don’t work for me and my mental well-being.

I need to be happy in my own body and to me that means enjoying my life without the punishing diet mentality. I am healthy, love moving and finding joy in being outdoors and that’s enough for me!

I’m all for growth and people deciding to make changes for themselves but this direct hit straight after Christmas can lead to so many women feeling under pressure to change just because we’re bombarded by adverts telling us we need to. Obviously we all want to be the best version of ourselves , especially as we age but that means something different to every individual. The danger is that post Christmas becomes a weapon for those in the diet industry to prey on those feeling most insecure about their bodies. This can lead to even more negative thoughts about our bodies as we are left feeling inadequate for society standards.

A survey carried out by Second Nature showed that 90% of people give up on their new year diet just 12 days into January, with 83% going on to gain back more weight than they lost, leaving people feeling worse about themselves than when they started.

If you’re struggling with the post Christmas pressure try and focus on the things that keep your head in a good space, protect your boundaries.

Here's a few ideas that might help-

  • Getting outside for a long walk, fresh air and nature always give me a boost
  • Spend time with those friends that always leave you feeling happier
  • Switch off from social media
  • Get lost in a book.
  • Keep a journal
  • Meditation, even just for 10 minutes every morning can really help
  • Focus on the activities that you love
  • Be kind to yourself, we don't have to be self improving every day. It's ok to have a down day and allow it pass.

What works for you?

Just remember “You are enough.. just as you are…right now!” ❤️

#embraceyourbody #youareenough#ditchthedietrules #bodyconfidence#newyearsameawesomeme#midlifewomen #confidenceandcurves#lifeafter50 #fiftyandfabulous#loveyourcurves @bridgemodels 📸 @jamesmelia

Rachel Peru model- James Melia photography

You are enough..just as you are..right now

October 19, 2021

Silver & Sassy- Grey Haired Women Are Not Invisible

Men are silver foxes but women are letting themselves go if they decide to ditch the dye?

When Annie Stirk first came to me with the seed of an idea to celebrate grey, white and silver haired women which we'd planned to be part of York Fashion Week 2019 I completely got it.

Silver & Sassy

I started going grey as a teenager, not really a shock as my grandmother was completely white at a young age.  Dyeing it every colour of the rainbow, from Navy Blue, Blonde, Bright Red and Plum , the list goes on.  I don't really remember anyone batting an eye.  Fast forward to age 45 when I decided to ditch the dye and embrace my grey hair and people suddenly had an opinion. Comments , which all came from women, included "You're too young" , "Don't let yourself go" and "it will make you look older".

I'm sure it's too do with societies conditioning around the fear of ageing. Grey hair is another sign along with wrinkles that we are ageing, and to be honest thank God we are lucky enough to still be here to show them when so many others aren't! There is still so much fear around the whole subject. We wanted to create an uplifting fashion event that challenges those outdated stigmas  and celebrates women embracing their grey hair. Reminding women that may be feeling a bit lost that we are most certainly not invisible!

The event, held at the beautiful Goldsborough Hall, involved 13 models who all volunteered to join Annie and I on the catwalk. These women had never done anything like this before but completely embraced everything we threw at them. With a fabulous styling team; Sara Anson and Trudy Fielding, behind us showcasing 7 brands from small independents to well loved high street names. It was important to Annie and I that not only did these women leave feeling more confident about themselves but so did our 90 guests. After the last 18 months there was a really positive energy coming from the audience and their support for every women that stepped out was palpable.

Our models ranged from late 40's up to 77 and indeed our oldest model Heather Sandler often stole the show with her sass and personality.

Why we need better representation in the media and fashion industry.

Although we have started to see more older women included in media and advertising campaigns they are still token gestures and  yet to be included in fashion campaigns on a consistent basis. Deciding to ditch the dye often comes at a time of great change in a womans life, children leaving home, adjusting to an empty nest, caring for older parents, the menopause. All these can have a huge affect on your body confidence. Add to that the lack of visibility in the images we are bombarded with daily and it's no wonder that women often feel invisible and lost.

When you consider that the over 50's spending power is one of the largest and fastest growing in the UK it makes you wonder at what point will brands start really listening and learning how to include us in their marketing. We were delighted to have high street brands John Lewis Leeds, Figleaves swimwear, Fenwicks and Jigsaw in York involved in the show alongside independents Copper & White, Cabi Clothing, My Vintage Beau, Natalia Willmott jewellery, Molly Titfer hats, The Yorkshire Handbag Company and Yorkshire Eyewear.

Seeing our models of all shapes, ethnicities, heights and at different stages of their grey journey really felt like a powerful statement. The women in the audience clearly enjoyed seeing the clothes on women they could relate to as they enjoyed shopping after the event after being inspired by what they'd seen. This seems to be a perfect way to shop and target the older market and perhaps we'll see more in person fashion events as an after effect of the pandemic. I really do hope so! I’d love to see more brands creating live fashion events to really connect and understand their midlife customers better.

Is the tide turning?

It does feel like the tide is turning with celebrity role models like Helen Mirren, Andie MacDowell and most recently Dawn French embracing their grey hair in the public arena. You often hear women described as being brave for going against the ‘normal’ and these women are under so much scrutiny in the spotlight but owning it. I completely agree with Andie MacDowell when she told Vogue she’d never felt more herself,  able to embrace where she is right now and completely comfortable in her skin,  I feel exactly the same and its freeing.

I’m sure that comes with age as much as embracing the grey, I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. Deciding to ditch the dye can be a very positive experience and so many women find it liberating, stepping out of your previous fashion comfort zone can be a real part of that change.

With award winning presenter Christine Talbot as our host we knew we were in safe hands and it was a pleasure to have Jayne Mayled, founder of White Hot Hair and Tricia Cusden from Look Fabulous Forever as our guest speakers to share their pro-ageing wisdom too.( I have to say our award winning hair and make-up artist Sonia Schofield and her team did an amazing job enhancing all the models natural beauty using Look Fabulous Forever make up).

There’s never been a better time for women to support women and this event really showed that as we also raised money for the York based women’s charity Kyra.  The event was kindly sponsored by York Gin and Figleaves.

Enjoy a few of the images of all our gorgeous models, all at different stages of their own grey haired journey, different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages but all Silver & Sassy!

 

 

 

Annie and I are already planning what's next for #Silverandsassy and we want to reach as many women as we can with our positive message. The icing on the cake came from being featured on ITV Calendar and then going national on All Around Britain.   (watch from 31 mins in)

We are Silver & Sassy!

Huge thanks to everyone behind the scenes who helped make the day the success that it was.

All images @Olivia Brabbs Photography

March 1, 2021

Finding body confidence in midlife.

How I have overcome my lack of body confidence to become a silver haired curve model, modelling lingerie at 50.

Rachel Peru model

If someone would have told me in my twenties and thirties that I would become a full-time model in my late forties I would never have believed them.

To the point where I actually booked to have a breast reduction because I hated the size of them and honestly thought this would make me feel happier, thankfully I reconsidered. It makes me feel sad that I wasted so much time and energy on these thoughts instead of living life to the full.

I was very shy when I was younger and didn’t have a big career mapped out when I left school, I really wanted to go to Drama school, but my lack of self- belief held me back. I spent fifteen years in various retail roles until I had my three children and then retrained as a nursery school assistant as it fitted in with family life easily. I found myself getting divorced at 39 and decided to finally go to University and gained a 2.1 Education Studies degree aged 41. I was delighted and thought I had finally got my career mapped out and imagined a new career in teaching. Life has a habit of turning plans upside down when you least expect it and shortly after my eldest daughter became ill with crippling and anxiety which resulted in her being home schooled and me having to leave my full-time job. Little did I know what was in store for me in the following years.

Four years ago, I began a new career, aged 46 as a model. I’m a UK size 14-16, with grey hair and a 34G bust.

I didn’t plan to do this; it just sort of happened at a time when I least expected it. After getting divorced at 39 I went to university and gained a BA in Education Studies and worked as a nursery teacher which I loved. My eldest daughter was struggling with severe anxiety which in the end led to home schooling and me leaving work. This really knocked my confidence being at home and I definitely felt very isolated for what felt like a long period of time. I was asked to model in a local McMillan charity fashion show by a close friend and although nervous about it I agreed. This was just the thing to help me regain my confidence, because it took me out of my comfort zone, and it was exhilarating. I had also decided to stop colouring my hair after battling grey hair since I was a teenager. It’s hard to explain but for the first time I truly felt like me, this in turn helped my confidence grow even more. After volunteering for McMillan for a few years I decided to send photos off to agencies after some encouragement from others and to my surprise I was offered contracts.

I am now signed exclusively with Bridge models in London and I love my new career, I get to meet so many different people, travel and wear some fabulous clothes, including swimwear and lingerie.

But the thing I have become most passionate about is being able to represent women in midlife and help challenge the media and fashion industry.  I am finally happy in my skin and have never felt more confident about my body, but I am aware so many women in midlife come to a body confidence crisis and when you look at how invisible in media, marketing and the fashion industry it’s hardly surprising.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go lingerie shopping in a department store and see models in their forties and fifties as well as the younger women? I want to be able to relate to the images and imagine how I would look in them, instead we are bombarded by youth which often leads us down a negative ageing body comparison.

I want to be able to share all my experience and knowledge gained,  all of the things that have worked for me over the last ten years that has helped me become happy in my body and move forward in life. I have recently gained a BodyLove diploma.

 

Keep being fabulous

Rachel x

 

 

October 5, 2020

How to be more body confident in midlife.

I really struggled to like my body in my twenties and thirties and it wasn’t until I hit my forties that my attitude started to change. The change wasn’t created by some amazing diet and trust me I have probably tried all of them but through getting on with my life and stepping out of my comfort zone. I actually went for a breast reduction when I was thirty because I hated my large chest so much I thought it was going to change how I felt about myself, I’m so glad I decided against it as now love my big boobs and they are very much part of me.

Midlife body confidence

Hitting midlife can be real time of change and our body confidence can take a knock.

Here’s some simple tips that can make a real difference to how you feel about your body and bring back some of that lost confidence.

 

  1. Ditch the weighing scales.

Your value does not lie with the number on the scales. I wasted so many years stepping on the scales every day and it doesn’t do you any good.

My mood of the day was being dictated to what the numbers told me in a morning and if I’d put weight on, I’d be in a bad mood for the rest of the day. I no longer weigh myself and it’s liberating.

 

  1. Invest in your lingerie.

When was the last time you got your bra size measured? A recent survey undertaken by the Underlines magazine in 2019 showed that 79% of women are wearing both the wrong band and cup size. Our bodies fluctuate and we need to get re-measured regularly. I used to feel guilty about investing in lingerie for myself, but I’ve realised it’s important to my mental well-being, it makes me feel good when I step out of the door. Time to drop the guilt and spend money investing in lovely matching lingerie that makes YOU feel good.

 

  1. Try something new!

Are you sitting on an urge to rekindle an old hobby or desperate to try something new? What’s stopping you? As we get older, we often fear failure more than we used to, but starting something new, whether it’s a hobby, learning a new craft or language or trying a new sport can give us a new lease of life.

 

  1. Get moving.

Find a sport or activity that you actual enjoy and don’t view sport as a chore. I used to really hate school sports and it put me off trying new activities for years, but I now go out running, dog walking and love swimming. It brings me enjoyment and time to switch off from the hustle and bustle of life for a while. I've found that it's helping my menopause symptoms better too, helps clear my head and feel less anxious. The fact that it’s good for health is of course an extra benefit.

 

  1. Be kind to yourself and show your body some love.

We wouldn’t say the things to our friends that we say to our own bodies so try and become friends with your body. I find writing a gratitude journal focusing on my body made a difference. Write 3 things that you’re grateful to your body for each day.

Be kind to your body

If you'd like some more body confidence tips why not try my Top Ten Midlife Body Confidence Free download

Download your free 10 top tips to finding body confidence

I'd love to hear what makes you feel body confident too? Drop me a line at rachel@outofthebubblepodcast.com

Keep being fabulous

Rachel x

 

 

July 8, 2020

Beach Body Ready – Have a body and head to the beach!

Beach Body Ready, it's really very simple, have a body then lets head to the beach!

My tips on how to be body confident this Summer as I share some of my favourite swimwear 2020.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that has spotted the dreaded "How to get a beach body" articles shortly after travelling was given the green light again this Summer.

Marketing companies and the media should receive an award for piling unrealistic pressure on women as they plan their summer wardrobe and beach attire, especially when they hit over 40. The majority of the swimwear images I see are so unrelatable; I realise I didn't look close to them in my twenties so at 50 I don't stand a chance!

When it comes to choosing swimwear, all I can tell you is ditch the rules and wear what makes YOU feel good and to hell with what anyone else thinks. If you're a swimsuit woman that's great, if you prefer to wear a two piece that's fabulous too, there is no right way, what ever makes you have the most body confidence. I've heard so many women share opinions on both and it's time we stopped judging one another. I love wearing bikinis because they make me feel free but I totally understand other women feel better in a one piece.

Here are some of my favourite swimwear for 2020 to give you a bit of inspiration.

I've recently discovered the WeAreWeWear brand and I really love their collection. This Bright Pink bikini is reversible so Pink or Red depending on your mood; you could also mix the tops and bottoms. I love a high waisted bottom and the drawstrings give you control on how you wear them. I'm a 34G and went for a Large which fits well and feels secure with the halter neck. This set is in the sale too so a bargain at £31 for the set.(https://wearewewear.com/products/long-line-reversible-red-bikini-top)

If you've never looked at the Figleaves website I can highly recommend you do as they have a really great collection of stylish one pieces and bikinis to fit a wide range of sizes.

How pretty is this Toulouse curve tummy control swimsuit! I love the ladder detail across the waist which helps create a gorgeous waistline for curves. £45

(https://www.figleaves.com/uk/figleaves-toulouse-mindful-curve-non-wired-plunge-ladder-tummy-control-swimsuit/FIG-013954.html?dwvar_FIG-013954_color=755160&cgid=newarrival#start=15)

I also love this Paradise Island swimsuit as the straps are detachable so great for avoiding tan lines and would look great worn as body underneath a jacket and jeans later in the evening. I'm all for multi tasking my wardrobe. £55

(https://www.figleaves.com/uk/figleaves-paradise-island-underwired-bandeau-tummy-control-swimsuit-b-g/FIG-013546.html?dwvar_FIG-013546_color=754485&cgid=swimwear-swimsuits#start=12)

I don't think you can go wrong when you shop at Bravissimo if you're a larger busted lady. I've shopped with this brand for the last ten years and they've never let me down when it comes to choice. This asymmetric swimsuit from their St.Tropez collection really caught my eye, I think its a really stylish look. £58

(https://www.bravissimo.com/products/st-tropez-swimsuit-sw560/#tealnavy-sw560tvy)

Tankinis can be a great option too and I absolutely love this electric Blue Santa Monica set from Pour Moi, don't be afraid to be stand out and own your spot on that beach.

The ruching on this set is so flattering and again a swimsuit that would look great with a maxi skirt in the evening. £49

It's about trying different style until you find your own body confidence.

(https://www.pourmoi.co.uk/products/santa-monica-removable-straps-non-wired-tankini/?styleid=69272)

I've tried and tested several of Pour Moi bikinis in the last few years and find them to be a great fit on the bust making bigger busted women feel nice and secure. The set below is from 2019.

2019 Pour Moi set, photographed by Laura Adams.

My personal favourite for 2020 is MissesBrie's collection, I am going to have to wait for the sales but there are some eye catching pieces in this fabulous collection. I'm a huge fan of the Sports Illustrated swimwear model Brielle Anyea and have watched her career blossom so I wasn't surprised that her swimwear collection is as stunning as she is. Briella is also another great model who is full of body confidence.

The colours and the style of this Baddie bikini is stunning but at £81 I'll have to keep it on my wish list.

Don't be afraid to look on social media at what other women are wearing though as there's so many smaller labels out there that you would otherwise miss.

(https://missesbrie.com/collections/new-arrivals/products/baddie-bikini)

What ever you wear , enjoy your Summer and hold your head up high.

Repeat after me...

"I AM GORGEOUS
I AM BEAUTIFUL
MY BODY IS MY FRIEND
I'M GOING TO ENJOY MY SUMMER"

June 10, 2020

The Impact of Lockdown Life On Body Confidence

How to love your body during lockdown.

I hope everyone has been surviving lockdown and managing to keep well. I am sure I’m not the only that has found this experience to be a real rollercoaster of emotions but what I hadn’t anticipated was the effect it would have on my body confidence.

In normal circumstances I consider myself to be very body confident, it’s something I’ve worked hard on and I guess it’s become part of my personal branding. I’ve modelled swimwear with Ashely Graham and represented older women in several lingerie campaigns, so I’d like to think I had the body confidence issue covered!

During the first few weeks I found myself joining every online exercise class that was thrown at me, some of which I really enjoyed, others began to feel like a chore. After a few weeks, life settled into a new normal routine and I’ve thrown myself into working on projects and recording Out of the Bubble podcasts, so I've had less time available. That’s when the guilt set in, I started feeling bad about myself because I wasn’t doing as much exercise or healthy living as friends and others on social media seemed to be. The saying “Comparison is the thief of joy’ is so true and this was another reminder of that.

I’ve continued to shoot from home and recently completed my first paid home shoot since lockdown began, for a lingerie brand. Whilst I am really happy with the final images it took much longer to shoot as I found myself being super critical and really harsh about my body and the fact that I’d put a few pounds on. For the first time in years I even weighed myself. In normal circumstances I wouldn’t have stressed about this but during lockdown it’s caught me off guard and I admit to having a small meltdown about it. I quickly remembered it's ok not to love your body every single day but you have to accept it, that's much more manageable and realistic.

I am happy to say this blip didn’t last long and I managed to get myself out of those negative thoughts, but it did stop me in my tracks and make me analyse why I reacted this way.

We have been bombarded by social media posts and advertising selling exercise classes and telling us that we should be all improving our lives during lockdown. How many times have you heard someone tell you’ve they’re learning a new language or attending every yoga class they can find? Whilst all this self-improvement is amazing if that is right for you how about those people that are just trying to survive and get through each day in their own way. There is no right or wrong way. Add this to the glib remarks added to articles and posts about weight gain it’s no wonder peoples' body confidence can be knocked.

Here are some tips that have helped me.

Unfollow/Mute accounts that have made you feel negative about yourself. Social media can be such a positive place if you carefully curate it to suit you and can be changed depending on your own state of mind.

If you are wanting to be more active, make sure you do the activities that you genuinely enjoy. I’ve started dance classes with The School of Strutt which I love and it doesn’t feel like exercise.

Don’t be camera shy. Start taking selfies and really look at yourself. Look at your face and recognise the person looking back at you. I found this really therapeutic and it was like reuniting with a stranger. It makes you stop and remember who you are and what you’ve achieved to get to this point, it helps put life and body insecurities into perspective.

Start a gratitude diary. I’ve used this lots of times over the years and began it again during lockdown, it helps remind you of all the positive, often small things each day to be grateful for.

Start the day thinking of one thing that you like about your body and make it your daily mantra, one of mine is ‘I love my smile’ other examples could be “I love how strong my legs feel’ or “I love the colour of my eyes’.

Keep repeating it to yourself throughout the day and you will be surprised how quickly it can make a positive difference. Once it becomes a routine you can then add more body parts and keep adding to your list.

Lastly, be kind to yourself and accept that your body is a vessel that has carried you through so many different experiences in life and is always there for you, so it deserves your love. We don't have to love our bodies every single moment of the day but body acceptance is much more important and realistic. Once we gain acceptance it frees up space in our minds to get on with life and keeps everything in perspective.

Keep being fabulous x

 

 

February 13, 2020

Why women over 40 need to be seen in lingerie campaigns.

Figleaves Valentines Day Campaign

You should know by now that I'm very passionate about women over 40 being seen in lingerie and swimwear advertising, it's something that I've written about before on the blog. So you can imagine how I felt when I got booked to join the Figleaves Lingerie Valentines 2020 campaign!

We worked on this campaign back in December and from the moment I arrived I could tell it was going to be a great shoot, despite the freezing cold weather outside. The set was so pretty; it always makes me want to rearrange my own home. What I loved about this campaign was how diverse the women were; some women had never done anything like this before and the glass of Prosecco to start the day off was not only a treat but definitely helped calm some nerves. I loved watching everyones' confidence grow throughout the day.

FANTASIE Sophie Underwired Side Support Bra

I'm not going to lie, but when I first saw this image all I could focus on was my 'muffin top' but what's the point of being so critical about something that is so natural? The lingerie set was beautiful, my hair and make up was on point and I was caught in a relaxed happy moment, enjoying the shoot.

90% of the time I am happy with my body and have embraced all that it is, but there are still moments that catch me off guard and cause me to have wobbles. It's something I've been conscious of recently when talking to people about body confidence.

Being body confident is not a definitive state but should be more fluid as you grow older and your body changes. Somedays its more about being kinder to yourself and for me the bad moments don't linger as long.

Women are so quick to judge themselves and focus on the things we don't like about our bodies, instead of celebrating the positive aspects. Spending the day on this shoot really felt empowering, we all have our own body stories but we can all lift each other so much by sharing them and learning from each other. I really believe that all women should experience a lingerie shoot in their lives to help raise their confidence, I find it liberating.

I only hope that more brands start using and representing older women in their marketing. Women want to be able relate to the images they see in lingerie shops, it is demoralising to be constantly bombarded with images of slim 20 year old women when you try on that same bra. It's impossible to not compare yourself and women over 40 have very different bodies to younger women, this needs to be reflected in the images as well. I strongly believe brands should be using a real mixture of ages and sizes so that everyone is catered for. This campaign has made a positive step in doing this which I think is really exciting to see.

Harper Geometric Lace Underwired Plunge Body B-G Cup

I never used to wear bodies but I'm a huge fan of them now. Not only do they hold you in but they are comfortable and supportive too. This outfit was my absolute favourite of the day.

You can read more about all the women involved in the shoot over on the Figleaves blog.

Keep being fabulous
Rachel x

February 1, 2020

Body confidence on camera.

Body Talk exhibition with Shy Burham photography & poet Sharena Lee Sattit

Many women still feel very uncomfortable talking about their bodies, particularly in a positive manner. We are all so good at complimenting others but often struggle to show self love and appreciation of our own bodies. Photographer Shy Burhan and Poet Sharena Lee Satti came together to create an exhibition breaking this taboo and celebrating body confidence. Women from diverse backgrounds were invited to submit three words describing what they love about their bodies before being photographed by Shy. Sharena then wrote a beautiful poem called 'She is a goddess' inspired by those photographs.

Opening night was a sell out and it so lovely to see the women showing friends and family their photographs proudly hanging on the walls at Kala Sangram in Bradford. Shy ended up with 58 women, she originally asked for 52 to represent each week of the year but had such a positive response she didn't want to turn anyone down. I love that all the women were truly diverse and different, a true reflection on women in society today. Wouldn't it be great if those people who organise fashion and beauty advertising came to events like to see what true representation looks like.

There is something very moving about seeing women embracing their bodies coming together to celebrate. It's so important that we have creative people bringing projects like this to life to help break down body confidence issues and improve our mental wellbeing.

The exhibition will run until 3rd April and I'm looking forward to then buying my own art installation cylinder, it's going to become our new wine cooler and certainly a new topic of conversation!

The word joy sums up the art installations as part of the exhibition, the 58 women all look so different but so happy and free to express themselves. It was such fun shooting with Shy for this project, lots of movement and laughter.

I'll leave you with this beautiful poem "She is a goddess' written and performed by poet Sarena Lee Sattit. The opening night performance saw this poem accompanied by a beautiful dancer, it was a very moving moment.

 

What three words would you use to describe why you love your body?

Mine were.

Gratitude, Strength and Acceptance.

Rachel x

January 29, 2020

The Vagina Museum

I'd heard about the new Vagina Museum in Camden over on the Naked Podcast before Christmas so knew I wanted to go check it out. Camden market is one of my favourite spots to lose a few hours alone in London but it is like a maze and I certainly raised a few eyebrows as I asked people if they knew where the museum was. So what is it about the word Vagina that still seems to cause some people embarrassment or fits of giggles?

The Vagina Museum is the world’s first bricks and mortar museum dedicated to vaginas, vulvas and the gynaecological anatomy. The project began in 2017 with pop ups across the county and opened its' doors in Camden in 2019.

I don't know about you but sex education classes in the late 70's and early 80's was pretty limited. For starters, girls and boys were separated so there was no chance for open discussions between both sexes which I always thought was bizarre. It's certainly refreshing to have a much more healthy and open conversation about our bodies. The small museum has informative straight talking facts about the vagina and helps dispel some of those myths women are often led to believe. It certainly left me thinking about a few things. Like why women are made to feel unkempt if we don't have tidy trimmed public hair all the time? By the way, did anyone watch CH4's Bring Back The Bush it's worth a watch and reminded me how much women's bodies have been policed over the years.

I would definitely recommend any parents to take their children to the museum, I wish this kind of information was made available to schools nationwide as I am sure it would really help young girls with their body confidence and mental well being as they navigate there way through puberty. It's actually surprising that it has taken so long for a museum like this to open when you consider the Phallological museum in Iceland has been open for years.

The museum will be holding two exhibitions a year and is currently running the "Muff busters: Vagina myths and how to fight them".with lots of other events throughout the year. My favourite display has to be the giant tampon all its' bloody, glittery glory.

Could you name all your body parts around the vagina?

 

Since I have been peri-menopausal and now entering the menopause, I have become more aware of what's going on with my body in this area and it has to be said it's not much fun! Why doesn't anyone warn you about vaginal dryness (or as I've now learnt is officially called Vaginal atrophy) and the consequential links to cystitis and thrush during hormonal changes. Why is it still so hard to talk about as if it's something we should hide and not make a fuss about even at the age of 50? Apparently research shows more than 50% will suffer with this, although it is likely to be much higher as only 7-10% visit the doctor.

I think this museum is a great idea. If it gets people talking more openly and sharing our experiences about our own bodies then perhaps we will all become a little less hard on ourselves.

Maybe we need a Menopause museum in the world too!

''We have a vision of a world where no one is ashamed of their bodies, everyone has bodily autonomy and all of humanity works together to build a society that is free and equal.''

The museum is free and can be found at Unit 17 & 18, The Stables, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AH.

 

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Out of the Bubble champions women who are embracing life and leaving a trail of inspiration along the way. Inspiring others to become more confident in body and mind.

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