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

 

 

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 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

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