August 28, 2019

Body confidence after 40

Let them stare

I spent so many years dreading the summer holidays, stressing myself out months before with fad diets and manic exercise to reach the unobtainable perfect bikini body. I can't tell you how liberating it is to be free from this now and I really want to inspire other women, particularly over 40 to stop worrying and start enjoying the summer more, just as they are.

What better way to make that statement and continue to challenge my own body confidence by doing a shoot in a lingerie shop window!

Rachel Peru, wearing Empriente swimwear, photographed by Silverymoon Photography

If we saw more women over represented with swimwear brands in advertising perhaps we would all feel a lot more positive about our own bodies. One lady recently left a comment on my social media saying, "I will be 45 soon and I don't feel represented in anyway. I feel women in their forties are invisible". I hear these kind of comments from women all the time and it drives me mad that advertising is making us feel this way. That's my driving force in doing what I am doing.

River Island swimwear, model Rachel Peru, Silverymoon Photography

I think it's important to acknowledge I wasn't always this body confident, infact it has taken me until I reached my forties to feel this way. It's been a gradual process, gained by constantly challenging my insecurities and it's ongoing.

A massive thank you to Debbie at The Fitting Rooms, Ilkley for letting me take over her shop window for the afternoon. https://www.facebook.com/TheFittingRoomIlkley

Boo Hoo swimsuit, Rachel Peru, Trudy Beau Stylist, Silverymoon Photography.

Let them stare, it's time to stop worrying about what other people think and enjoy life right now.

Pour Moi bikini, Rachel Peru, SilveryMoon photography

"Despite knowing they won't be here for long, they still choose to live their brightest lives"

#rupikaur This sums up my thought on life perfectly, no more wasting time on worrying about my imperfections and lumps and bumps. This is me!

Top New Look, Bottoms Miss.Guided, Rachel Peru, Trudy Beau Stylist, Silverymoon Photography
I can't thank the team that worked on this with me enough #dreamteam

Photographer Mya Fawcett https://www.silverymoonphotography.co.uk/about.html

Videographer https://en-gb.facebook.com/aFletcherFilm/

Stylist https://www.facebook.com/trudybeaustylist/

Pour Moi bikini. Rachel Peru, Fletcher Films

"I alone can not change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples" #mothertheresa

March 28, 2019

I’m Right This Way, Ulla Popken Campaign Spring 2019

I loved working on the latest Ulla Popken campaign, it's one of the most inclusive positive shoots I've been involved in so far. A true celebration of women in all our different shapes and sizes but all confident and happy in our bodies.

Such a fun week working with these two beauties. Carina Behrens and Tanya Gouraige. My translators for the week too!! xx

The campaign including models, well-loved German body confident influencers and women from behind the scenes within the Ulla Popken brand.

Ulla Madels, Ulla Girls with Carina Behrens, Verena Prechti and Charlotte Kurht

I could get used to having the length of hair and am now on a mission to grow it longer. I had it cut shorter before Christmas , partly because I wanted a change but mostly because it wasn't in great condition and it needed some tlc.

The more women share their individual body confidence stories the quicker we will all realise that we ALL share the similar insecurities with our body image at some stage in life and that it's time to stop. I've wasted so many years worrying about the number on the scales or the dress size. I used to weigh myself everyday and the number on those scales would invariably dictate the mood of the rest of my day. I can't remember the last time I weighed myself now and it's liberating. This campaign is about you saying and recognising that you are enough just as you are right now.

https://www.ullapopken.co.uk/iamrightthisway/stories.html

Put some Beyonce on in a room full of women and you get a lot of fun, dancing, sass and smiles.

BEAUTY

is what you make of it

Can bodies be right or wrong? We believe the answer is: No. They all deserve to be loved – no matter how much or little they resemble the supposed ideals. Learning to look at our body with love can change our lives. It means seeing beauty and feeling self-love.

Ulla Popken 2019

Thank you Ulla Popken for being so inclusive and showcasing women at their best, happy, confident and supporting one another x

https://www.ullapopken.co.uk

March 20, 2019

Out of the Bubble podcast with Zoe McNulty from School of Strut

Episode 2 of Out Of The Bubble podcast is out and this weeks guest is Zoe McNulty, body activist and headmistress of The School Of Strut. We talk about body confidence and the importance of unleashing your inner Beyonce. Here are some of the best bits!

Zoe McNulty, headmistress of the School of Strut.

How would you describe yourself?

I'm an international dance fitness presenter, body positive activist, champion of curves and Headmistress of School of Strut. Really all a fancy way of saying I teach dance! I help women feel good about themselves what ever their shape or size. As a curvy dancer, not that I've been that much judged and a fitness instructor, that's had an effect on my career. In fact I've had to forge my own path through the fitness industry because many doors were closed to me and I didn't have the body that brands were looking for so I made my own brand up.

Have you always had this passion for dance?

Yes, I think I probably danced my way out of the womb. I stopped for a couple of years whilst doing my A'levels but then went back to it. I hadn't realised how much I had missed it, the buzz that I felt and I was on such a high after that first class back. I thought there is something special about this, why am I not doing this as a career? I want it in my life and I want it be something I pass on.

Whilst I was a student I couldn't afford the gym fees so I offered my services and volunteered and they put me in there exercise to music classes, that's aerobics to you and me. That's where I thought , ooh I think I've found what I'm meant to be doing.

Zoe McNulty, The School of Strut

 

I read somewhere that you wanted to be a backing dancer on Top of the Pops, how true is that?

Yes throughout my life really, my best friends at the time were doing it so I was moving in those circles. I avoided the commercial dance world because I didn't want to be told daily that I can't do this because you're too big. I didn't want to be told to lose weight continually, I thought I'm going to develop an eating disorder that's not healthy. I stepped away from that dream knowing that actually that dream would be bad for me.

Have you always been quite self aware of your body confidence?

I kind of thought about that over the years and thought yeah was it really a very wise decision or was I just a bit lazy. Other people went for their dreams and never stopped until they got there and I didn't have it In me. I think it has to do with laziness to be honest. But in hind sight, you know I'm a christian, I believe in God, maybe god put that in my mind, don't worry , that's not for you, crack on and you'll find your path.

Where did the idea for School of Strut come from?

Regardless of travelling and working all over the world I have still always done my weekly dance classes in London. About 12 years ago there was a lovely forward thinking chain of gyms that asked me if I could do a dance class in heels. They'd seen an American concept of a class in heels where the people were doing squats and lunges in heels, trying to sell the benefits. To me that was all wrong. If anyone was going to be in heels it's got to be a dance class. The first session the women came in all timid and unsure and by the end of the 45 minute. class they were swinging their hips, heads held high, the transformation was incredible.

What's your average age in the classes?

I'd say roughly 35 to 55. My ideal client would be starting from 18, actually younger than that to be honest. The younger generation really need help with their body positivity, its definitely on my radar.

It's tends to be the mums who have forgotten who they are because they've spent the last two decades being mum, being a wife and they've forgotten what it's like just to be feminine.

What kind of feedback do you get from women that come to your classes? Have you any stories you can share?

I get loads of women messaging me afterwards saying they've braved wearing a bikini for the first time after coming to the class which is always great to hear.

One lady had saved for years and years for a tummy tuck, she'd had three kids and had been unhappy with her tummy and saved up for about ten years to have the operation. She came to one of my Strutology classes and realised she was perfect as she was, she didn't need it. Literally it was eye opening for her and she stopped the plans and went holiday instead. She went on to meet a handsome, young gentleman who loves her curves. That's pretty incredible to me.

On the surface it looks like we're just prancing around in heels. but there's so much more going on under the surface.

How did you get involved with Taryn Brumfitt and The Body Image movement and become an ambassador?

It was through my friend Nicola who is also in the fitness industry and the only other person that gets it in the industry, she's become my confidante. She told me abut the Body Image Movement so I looked in to to it and realised this lady was doing some great stuff. I filled a lengthy questionnaire in about myself and was accepted as an ambassador. I hosted a screening of the documentary Embrace at Streatham Odeon and it was a great evening, it had sparked some deep thinking in people.I met Taryn and she really wants to do one of my classes as well, she loves the concept.

Taryn. Brumfitt, Embrace documentary

What changes would you like to see in the industry?

There's a long way to go.

Diversity across all the media platforms, more diverse body shapes and sizes and abilities. Ban diets, educate people on health at every size. Everyone can be healthy at any size. Making body positivity compulsory in education for primary and secondary schools. Getting the kids to talk about their insecurities and if you're a mum listening the best thing you can do is stop putting yourself down in front of your kids. That's only going to create problems in your children.

What made you join the Real Catwalk, organised by American model Khrystyana last Summer and were you scared to do it?

I didn't sleep very much the night before and that's not like me. I've been challenging myself to be more body confident and I was concerned about showing my midriff as I'd never done that before.

Everyone smashed the catwalk on a busy Saturday in Trafalgar Square, London. Zoe looking fabulous with Khrystyana, the organiser of The Real Catwalk.

Zoe clearly loved taking part in this event as she was there again this year, owning that. catwalk and full of confidence. It was an amazing day.

 

What's one of your favourite songs that really gets you motivated?

'Chandelier' by Sia

What book has inspired you?

I would recommend 'Health At Every Size' by Linda Brown

Who inspires you?

Taryn Brumfitt, founder of 'The Body Image Movement'. www.bodyimagemovement.com

You can follow Zoe over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @schoolofstrut or her website www.schoolofstrut.com

Zoe has inspired me so much and I love watching her motivated so many women. I am excited to be working on a possible collaboration event in the future with Zoe so watch this space!!

To listen to the audible podcast please click on the podcast link or visit

In the meantime... keep being fabulous x

March 13, 2019

Celebrating International Women’s Day with NuNude.com

What better way to spend International Women's Day than to spend it with a fabulous group of diverse women from across the world. When I saw the NuNude call out for a women to join them for a live catwalk event in the centre of London I knew I had to be part of it. A real celebration of all our differences but all with so much in common, the need to be seen and heard because representation matters.

No 9 in the catwalk line and ready to go!

This is how we celebrate IWD2019 , party time with Nu-Nude. Video courtesy of Latin TV @ulatintv

When I look at this photo yes I see my bits that wobble and the cellulite but what makes me everything ok is the smile on my face as none of that other stuff really matters. If you'd have asked me to walk around London in my underwear I would have run a mile and now I am confident and happy in my body to really not care what others think. I keep myself fit and healthy, dog walking, jogging, swimming and occasionally going to the gym but I equally don't beat myself up anymore if I don't manage to do any of those things. That's why days like today are so empowering, being around other women who share their body stories and overcome their body issues. All at different stages in their journey but all beautiful for stepping out of their comfort zone.

What a great shot in the Amber magazine. We literally formed a circle in the middle of Oxford Street and stopped traffic! What better way to celebrate IWD2019.

February 27, 2019

A Golden Age of Positivity, Front Cover Goldie Magazine Jan 2019

I was so excited and honoured when I found out that I was going to be on the front cover of Goldie January 2019 edition. To have a platform like Goldie magazine to share my views about body confidence and the lack of over 40+ models represented in the fashion industry is something I am very grateful for. I really do feel part of the growing change in attitudes towards ageing in the fashion industry and love any opportunity to challenge the industry and help break down some barriers. Goldie magazine is fabulous, it celebrates everything positive about the over forties and above, for both men and women. Celebrating our diversity, not shy to tackle difficult conversations around ageing and it's packed full of great articles.

If you haven't discovered it yet then I can definitely recommend it!

www.goldiemag.co.uk

 

Front cover Goldie magazine, Jan 2019.

"So what is it that causes us to shy away from embracing our older bodies? The lack of representation in the media must be a contributing factor, because women over forty are rarely used in lingerie or swimwear adverts, sending a very negative message that no one wants to see them"

"You're worth more than Gold'. Photographer Steve Cockram, MUA Rachel O'Dell, Stylist Trudy Fielding

AUREATE adjective Made of or having the colour of gold

"As someone who lacked body confidence until my forties I can appreciate the journey I have been on with every part of my body, We are a team and something to be cherished"

"With a depth of beauty that only comes in later years, we are redefining what middle age looks like. So next time you look in the mirror, remind yourself that your body s like gold: precious and beautiful"

Photographer: Steve Cockram

www.brusselstreetstudio.com

Stylist: Trudy Fielding

MUA/Hair: Rachel O'Dell

Words and Images as featured in Jan 2019 Goldie magazine

July 26, 2018

Never too old to wear a bikini! Midlife women still want to feel good in swimwear.

I really do think reaching our midlife is a state of mind. We are so conditioned in society to conform to how we should think, look, what to wear when we nearer the age of 50 and it's time we took back control and changed the rules.

My mum had beautiful long wavy hair in her forties but lost confidence in her look as she approached 50 because society has always told her women over 50 shouldn't have long hair. I look back now and feel quite sad that she made the decision to go much shorter because her lack of self confidence felt the need to fit in, to conform. I say to hell with that!

I am 48 and am more confident now than any other time in my life so far, I know from talking to other women of a similar age they feel the same. Women are redefining what middle aged looks like and I am right behind them.

I really struggled with my body image in my twenties and thirties and since turning 40 I began a real journey of self love and body confidence. I have curves, stretch marks gained from having three children, cellulite but I am right where I want to be and wouldn't wish to be back in my thirties. It is liberating and I don't intend to be invisible as I slowly approach 50. I say bring it on.

Age is just a number, attitude is a game changer.

That is why I decided to apply for the Sports Illustrated Swimwear casting, I am fed up of seeing young girls looking truly beautiful without showing the growth and depth of beauty a woman in later years also brings. There is space for all of us and it is time for brands and the media to give everyone a platform to share. Not only would it allow the next generation to worry less about ageing and free them from wasting so much energy and money on trying to deny it but it would also raise lots of middle aged womens' self confidence levels and remind society that we are not invisible.

I love this bikini set from Lepel, it's such a good fit,34FF. Photographer Laura Carly Adams. Stylist Trudy Fielding

Pleasantly surprised how much this swimming costume holds me in. It's not easy to find costumes that suit a 34G bst but I think this deep v is super flattering. Julien McDonald swimwear for Matalan.

Swimsuitforall.com cater for curves so well and this two piece is no exception.

A bit of old school 1950'S glamour from My Vintage Beau.

 

Lepel bikini 34FF, I probably could have done with sizing up to a 34G in this one but it's a great sunbathing bikini.

Photograher Laura Carly Adams, Styled by Trudy Fielding, location Ilkley Lido

July 26, 2018

The Be Real catwalk, organised by American model Khrystyana, London 2018

What is The Real Catwalk?

The Real Catwalk was first organised in New York last year by its founder American body love activist and model Khrystyana. I confess to being an American Next Top Model addict and have watched every single series from the start. But for those that don't know about the show Khrystyana came 3rd in the last series and carried her body positive message and love throughout the show. Not only is she an amazing model but she is a great role model for girls and people of all ages in the way that she embraces herself and encourages others to do so.

The idea behind the London Real Catwalk was to inspire people to feel more confident in their bodies, to celebrate our differences and highlight the growing need for true representation for everyone. This catwalk was to be different, the call for volunteers was for everyone, all shapes, sizes, abilities, gender and age. Being part of this day was truly special, I met so many inspirational brave people. I use the word brave, not because it is brave to love your body but brave because so many people have struggled with their body image and feelings of not fitting in, hardly any wonder when society is bombarded by the media with their vision of perfect. To walk tall in swimwear in the middle of a busy Saturday in Trafalgar Square is no easy feat and I salute everyone of the 70+ models who took part.

Why I took part in the Real Catwalk organised and founded by American body love activist and model Khrytsyana.

I wasted so many years with low self esteem and lack of body confidence and it wasn't until I reached my forties that I really embraced who I am and became happy in my skin.

I have three teenagers and I don't want them to have the same issues and I want to show them that we are all different and that there is no such thing as the 'perfect' body type. Research shows that a ''substantial portion of the media'' that children are exposed to is ''replete with unhealthy messages about the beauty ideal, body size, food, weight control and gender roles'' which is so detrimental for their mental well being, this needs to change, (*Influence of Mass Media on Body Image and Eating, Greenberg et al 2009,389) .With the increase of mental ill health, anxiety, self harm and eating disorders it's a serious issue and one that can't be just brushed under the carpet. It is time the media takes this issue seriously and makes a real difference. We are all beautiful and good enough as we are today .

Plus I want to keep reminding the industry and fellow over 40's that we rock and we are not invisible!

Founder of the Real Catwalk Khrystyana

Fantastic to get some positive media coverage too.

I love taking part in events such as this as I get to meet so many interesting and strong women, including this beauty Messa Morley.

Two Rachels

Finale walk, so much admiration for those that took part and what wonderful support form the audience.

Feeling strong wearing a Swimsuitsforall bikini.

 

May 26, 2018

Women over 40 wear lingerie too!

As a woman in her forties I still love to sit down and read fashion magazines and I'm guilty of losing hours shopping and browsing on line. I love fashion and that includes admiring and buying nice underwear. I am a 34FF bra size so that in its self limits my accessibility, although there are so many more brands doing my size fashionably now. However what I find completely demoralising as a shopper is that they are always modelled on young, fresh faced models who look stunning with their youthful bodies. But trying to imagine what I might look like in my 48 year old body compared to the image is never a positive comparison. Our body shape changes, are skin isn't as tight and firm as it used to be, I need more support up front!

But I can still look and feel good in the right lingerie without being constantly reminded that I am ageing. It does leave you with a feeling off being written off by the fashion industry and things need to change.

Lingerie set (XL) and dressing gown , Gifted from F&F Clothing. Photographer Mya Fawcett, MUA Emma Denton.

Whilst there are some very positive brands embracing this change such as Berlei, Panache and Lonely Label wouldn't it be nice if all brands got on board and didn't just see it as a quick PR eye catcher for individual campaigns but don't carry it through the rest of their website or advertising.

This Berlei campaign is the way forward and they are at the fore front of embracing all ages in their continued advertising. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we saw these kind of images every time we opened a magazine.

How amazing does this older model look for Lonely Label lingerie, I look at this photo and I can't help thinking that if we saw women of all ages we would be less insecure about growing older and it would help our self confidence and body positivity as we change through the decades.

Whilst I think this photo of 57 year old Julianne Moore modelling for Triumph is beautiful, I only hope they continue down this road in their ongoing branding and images. I want to be able to relate to the models in magazines and fashion branding ,please don't alienate us, after all we have money to spend and make up a high percentage of your sales!

Panache lingerie set 34FF

Basque set Bravissimo 34FF.

April 16, 2018

Supporting the Be Real campaign

Be Real is a national movement working together with schools, businesses, charities and public bodies to help shift attitudes in young peoples body images and improve their self esteem and health. Focussing on low body confidence, education which includes working with parents and teachers, health and the need for diversity in branding and the fashion and media industry. With three teenagers of my own I can see the impact all of these things can have on lowering young peoples self esteem and I am proud to be able to support this campaign with my guest blog post.If you haven't already heard about the Be Real campaign please check it out! I am also delighted to report that I have now become a BeReal ambassador.

Guest blog article for the Be Real campaign.

A letter to my sixteen year old self.

Dear Rachel,

Firstly, always remember when you go through your life that you are unique and worthy of everything that you work for. Remember how you felt when you were thin and wore that black skinny dress, you were full of confidence. Hold on to those feelings and keep them close when your body changes and your dress sizes get bigger. You are still the same beautiful person, do not let yourself or anyone else dim that light.

When someone pays you a compliment, accept it gracefully and say thank you, don't turn it in to an opportunity to make fun of yourself and highlight your flaws. If you keep doing that it will become a bad habit that takes you years and years to break. Be kind to yourself. Whilst we are on this subject, remember how nice it feels to be complimented and do the same to others. When you say nice things to your friends it will raise their self-esteem and makes you feel good too. It doesn't have to be about their appearance either, how about something they have succeeded in? After all there is so much more to all of us than how we look on the outside.

Join in with life, don't let your insecurities stop you from taking part in what is all around you. Play that game of tennis with your friends. They aren't Wimbledon champions either but they are having fun together, watching from the side lines is not the same. So what if you are two sizes bigger than the other girls, what difference does that make to picking up a racket and hitting a ball? You're not alone with these insecurities. The Be Real campaign alongside the YMCA commissioned a report called somebody Like Me, which found from over 2000 11-16 year olds, 30% isolated themselves because of their body anxieties. Be brave and every time you are , your confidence will grow faster and bigger.

You will go through life achieving and experiencing so many things, some good some bad, but I promise you the numbers on your weighing scales will bear no relevance to anything. It will have no part to play in what you go on to accomplish so stop standing on them every day. Ask yourself what purpose do they serve? If you see numbers that you are happy with yes you feel great but then the next day the numbers may be higher and your whole world seems to crash down. Try and imagine if you had a tiny baby and you weighed it every day, as it goes through different stages its weight changes too. would you love the baby any less if it's bigger than when it was born? No of course wouldn't, our bodies change daily for lots of reasons. Learn to love your body and embrace it for all that it is, how you often see yourself is not how others view you. We are all different shapes and sizes, you are curvy and always will be, some of your friends are taller and slimmer, all of you are beautiful.

Try and learn to live in the moment more, you can waste so much time and energy thinking life would be better if only I lost half a stone.. if only my boobs were smaller I would be happier...if only...if only.... Every day you are living your life so don't let it slip by wasting precious time putting your life on hold until the 'if only' day that will never materialise. By allowing your brain to play the 'if only' game you are setting yourself up for failure, instead find things that you love are passionate about and do them as often as you can. Keep swimming, go dancing. practice yoga. explore every opportunity that comes your way and excites you. If you find that your brain is winning and you are struggling write down a list of things that you are grateful for about each day. I promise you it will make you feel better and it will help break the cycle. It's about being kind to yourself. The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence report 2016, which involved 4,500 girls from over 13 different countries highlights this message too, with 8 out of 10 feeling more confident and positive "when they invest time in caring for themselves".

Lastly if you eat those 5 fish fingers because you love them, or had that second piece of cake when no-one was looking, don't beat yourself up abut it. So what, it's done. Did you enjoy it? Yes, has your life come to a catastrophic end? NO! Everyone has days when they over indulge for lots of different reasons but then the sun comes up and it's a new day. Nothing good will come from dwelling on past events of any kind, move on, look forward and most importantly BE KIND TO YOURSELF.

With love xx

References-

https://www.unilever.com/images/global-beauty-confidence-report

Somebody Like Me: A report investigating the impact of body image anxiety on young people in the UK

 

March 19, 2018

My Body Confidence Journey So Far!

From low self esteem and poor body image to becoming friends with my body and embracing it.

Rachel Peru, body confidence with photographer Mya Fawcett

I love seeing so many inspiring women sharing their self confidence and helping others embrace their own bodies on social media and Instagram. It has made me stop and think about what being body positive actually means to me.

Whatever size we are, we all have our own journey with our bodies and when I look back at my own, I am finally able to accept and love my body, flaws and all. To reach this point is incredibly liberating and has increased my self confidence ten fold. I would never have had the confidence to have modelled like this when I was younger and whilst I think it has been a real shame to have wasted precious time feeling insecure in my own body, maybe this is all part of my journey and the time is right for me now.

Growing up I was always slightly chubbier than my friends at school and the size of my chest was an issue fairly early on! I do remember being called Chubby at secondary school, top that with 'specky four eyes' and its not a positive start. Don't get me wrong, I had amazing friends and enjoyed life but I do remember those feelings of not being good enough creeping in early on.

As a society we are so judgemental about looks and size; it is so unhealthy and makes me sad.

I have been what I would call 'thin' three to four times in my life, where people would tell me how great I looked now I'd lost weight, congratulating me on the 'achievement'. Once when I was a teenager after my parents got divorced, once when I got into a bad habit of making myself sick and when eating out caused me huge anxiety, once after breastfeeding and having no car so I walked literally every where (which I loved) and finally when I got divorced! Apart from one of these periods of life, the rest weren't very positive or good for my mental well being.

Fast forward to my twenties when I gave up my job and went to work as an au-pair for 6 months in Denmark aged 23. During those six months I learnt so much about myself, it was the first time I had left my home town and ventured out solo in life. I made new friends and ate too many Danish pastries washed down with plenty of beer. I came back home two stone heavier. But what has always stayed with me was sitting with a close member of family whilst they chatted on the phone discussing my return. The first comment made was about how much weight I had put on, not how well my trip had gone or things that I had experienced. At that moment I was so hurt and felt humiliated. My confidence took another tumble. How have we got to this point in society where we are so shallow that how we look defines us over our personality and life experiences?

Again in my thirties all dressed up in a black figure hugging wiggle dress for a special event I felt amazing. I went out feeling so confident and glamorous. During the course of the day a close male friend announced, in front of a line of other men that I scrubbed up well for a 'fat lass''. At that point I wanted the ground to swallow me up, I went bright red and went for a good cry in the toilets. Looking back, what actually makes me really cross is that everyone else's reaction to this was so unsupportive and I was the one that had an issue because I was 'too sensitive'. I can see clearly now that these comments were completely unnecessary and I allowed them to penetrate my own self belief when I am also sure they were forgotten about five minutes after they came out of their mouth. If only I had the inner confidence then that I have now! It is also worth noting I was a size 14 at the time which really highlights what a screwed up message people are still receiving, from the fashion industry and media, about the judgment and image of women, when the UK national average women is a size 16.

I strongly believe there is a need for more body positivity and self confidence building to be included in schools curriculum, because it is the next generations to come that have a real opportunity to change this mentality. Body activist Taryn Brumfitt's and her Body Image Movement, first started in Australia, is such a fantastic cause. If you haven't seen the Embrace documentary yet, I can highly recommend it, (finally available to buy in the UK on ITunes). I am proud to have become more involved with this and am looking forward to taking part in a live Q & A panel after a screening during York Fashion week on April 17th. Her mission is to make an Embrace education study guide, working alongside education and health specialists, accessible to all schools across the UK. The movement is already having a positive impact in schools around Australia. As a parent I would also recommend taking a look at Doves Self-Esteem Project www.dove.com

I honestly think there was not a single year between 20 to my late 30's where I didn't try a new diet at some point. Putting pressure on myself to achieve unrealistic goals, striving to feel like I 'fit in', loathing myself when I failed. It's such a vicious circle. In my late thirties I actually booked in for a breast reduction thinking this would make me feel better about myself, thank fully I didn't go through with it. It wasn't my bra size I needed to change but my mindset. I am also fully aware that my experiences will seem trivial to some women who will have experienced a lot worse, but I guess the point I am trying to make is that regardless of your size or sex or age , if you are size 0, 10, 16 or 20 we all have the right to love our bodies and society works hard to try and stop us.

Since turning forty there has been a huge transition in my own attitude and I no longer look to the scales for my self value. Two things have happened in my forties that have finally shifted the negative body image I had of myself. Firstly I embraced my natural grey hair, which I have managed since my teenage years and had every colour of the rainbow. I love my grey hair and would never change it now, it's part of me.

The second shift came in 2017, after volunteering to join a local photographer Mya Fawcett who organised a group of women to re create the Loose Women MyBodyMyStory photograph. 11 women, all strangers to me, stood in our underwear together, all different ages and sizes, all with their own body stories. I wanted to challenge myself, also I have three teenagers and I want them to be able to see their beauty and fill them with self love, challenging the medias portrayal of beauty by being a good role model. I walked out into the studio and immediatley went to my default programme of comparing myself to others and feeling very insecure.

This really hit home to me the fact that it doesn't matter what size you are, or how others may perceive you, its such a personal journey and all of equal value. A recent Dove global research report showed that ''80% of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful, but do not see their own beauty''(https://www.dove.com/uk/stories/about-dove/our-research.html).

MyBodyMyStory with Loose Women

Following this photograph we ended up on Loose Women live in our underwear, since then nothing phases me! I have gone on to model swimwear with Ashley Graham and Swimsuitsforall, Lingerie for Panache and I am keen to continue flying the flag for the 40+ women in being body positive and embracing our years. Women in todays society are put under so much pressure from a young age to look a certain way, when in fact we should be embracing our individuality and judging others a lot less. I don't want to be written off because I am over forty and curvy, I'm just getting started!

Rachel Peru with Swimsuitsforall in the Bahamas.

Panache Lingerie 'I AM' campaign

Yes I have a large chest, my waist is a little bit wider than it used to be, my front teeth overlap, I wear varifocal glasses, I have cellulite and stretch marks. Shock, horror!

In the last ten years my body has got me through a 1/2 half marathon, 2 Great North Swims in Lake Windermere, cycling from London to Brighton, the 127 miles Leeds to Liverpool canal route and two sky dives. I am also immensely grateful that my body gave me three wonderful children, I am fit and healthy, loved and in love. I have a great smile and am a happy person loving life.

What do you love about yourself? Start that list.......

#thisisme #lifeisgood #liberating #bebodypositive #embraceyourbody #curves #curvemodel #nowrongage #myagedoesnotdefineme #effyourbeautystandards #diversityinfashion

 

 

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OUT OF THE BUBBLE

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.

We all have a story to tell.
 

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