When going grey in your 40s brings a new career!
Going grey in your 40s or 50s?
To go gronde, grombre, or just go grey gracefully, in your forties and fifties? A question that more women are asking themselves as they find grey hair coming through as they age. Grey or silver hair in younger women is becoming increasingly popular. Brands reflect this trend, so we get more and more images of women of all ages, with fabulous grey locks!
We spoke to model, Rachel Peru - a former nursery teacher, she ditched the dye, getting a new look and a new life in the process. She’s now embracing midlife and a busy new career in modelling after growing in her grey hair.
PP: We love your take on body confidence, embracing grey hair, curves and all the knobbly bobbly bits that appear as women age. How did this new modelling career in your 40s come about?
RP: I would never have thought about modelling in my twenties and thirties, I was very self-conscious and lacked confidence. It wasn’t until I turned 40 that things slowly started to change. I got divorced aged 39 so that was a huge turning point because you have to re-evaluate life and re-find yourself. A friend volunteered me to walk in a local MacMillan charity fashion show, so I said yes and although very nervous and in need of a large drink I came away feeling great. I’ve done this charity show for ten years now. Each year I took part I could feel the increase in my body confidence although it took me 5-6 years to agree to model swimwear and I now wear whatever they throw at me! I had been encouraged by others involved in the show to try modelling and eventually thought to myself what have I got to lose? I was fortunate and surprised to be accepted by several agencies across the country and am now exclusively represented by Bridge models in London. What I have learnt is that by saying yes to things it’s opened up new doors that I never dreamed of and I have learnt so much more about myself.
My dream job came in 2017, in my first year of modelling when I got to work with Ashley Graham for Swimsuitsforall.com, in the Bahamas. I don’t think I stopped pinching myself for the whole week and imposter syndrome was real, but I left that job with a real passion and drive to make this career work for me and that I could help make women over 40 more visible. It’s work in progress!
PP: You took a leap into modelling at a time when many women lose their confidence as perimenopause comes knocking at the door, how do you deal with any anxiety or confidence issues in perimenopause?
RP: Mmm. that’s definitely an ongoing challenge I’ve not fully mastered yet. My anxiety levels have definitely increased since being perimenopausal, especially around travelling. I’ve really had to keep pushing myself to do things when its particularly bad and I also find Calm tablets work for me. I prepare for things a lot more so if I’m having a wobble, I have everything written down so even if I don’t have a clear head, I can take the day step by step.
I think because I am constantly challenging myself with new things it’s really helped build my confidence levels, so they are much higher than they used to be, even on a bad day I’m kinder to myself.
I have a Hungarian Viszla dog so that gets me out walking every day and being in nature really helps me feel calmer. I love listening to podcasts whilst I’m walking too, especially Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations.
PP: What would the early years teacher in you, think of the recent shoot you did standing in your local shop window in nothing but a bikini?
RP: I am sure it would make her smile and be surprised at my body confidence now. I wanted to do the shop window shoot because so many women I’ve talked to dread the summer months and feel hugely conscious of what other people may think about their bodies. The ‘Let them stare!’ photoshoot was me standing in bikinis and beach wear in a local lingerie shop window just to remind us all that it really doesn’t matter what people think, it’s about embracing life today and being happy with who you are right now.
I retrained as an early year’s teacher and gained a degree in Education Studies when I was 41 so I know how important raising young children’s self-esteem and body image is for our mental well- being, it’s important for us to pass this down to the next generation and lead by example. I am proud to be a BeReal charity ambassador that works towards changing attitudes to body image and help put health above appearance to be more confident in our bodies. They work with schools and business, charities and public bodies to help make the change so this is something I would like to become more involved in the future.
PP: Diversity shouldn’t be a trend but a reflection of the society we live in. As a model from the vocal 40s demographic, do you think older women are being reflected by brands?
RP: I think we are slowly starting to see a change, but we still have a long way to go. I think there’s still a lot of tokenism when some brands use older models, but we have to start somewhere. There’s still such a lot of old fashioned stereo typical images used of older women in the media that I think things really need a good shake up. On a more positive note the current generation of 40-50-year-old women are much more pro-active and vocal about not being represented well enough that we are much harder for the industry to ignore.
PP: What advice would you give to women in their 40s and 50s who want to take a leap of faith and change their lives and careers?
RP: Start today, don’t keep putting it off. Even if you’re circumstances won’t fully allow it immediately you can always start retraining, taking classes, starting new projects now. It’s about trying new things and finding your passion, taking the first step then has a knock-on effect with everything else. Also don’t be put off if others around you aren’t supportive at first, this is your dream and you’re the one that will make it happen.
PP: Your Instagram account, ‘RachelPeru1’, is really positive, celebratory and smiley. How much do you enjoy your work and what’s next?
RP: I love being on Instagram, its full of so many inspiring people and I’ve made some brilliant connections with people through it. I am passionate about what I’m doing and really hope that some of that rubs off on others who see it. It’s important to me that people see the real me, so I don’t use photoshop or edit myself, what you see is who I am, flaws and all. I believe that once the fashion and beauty industry start using older models in a more diverse way then we all learn to love and embrace our bodies a lot more instead of comparing ourselves to unrelatable images. I know I wasted far too many years worrying about what I looked like and how much I weighed instead of getting on with enjoying and taking part in life.