I have never been what I would call slim, say a UK 10. The only time I have been that size is when I was 18 and made myself sick most days and when I got divorced. Neither of which I’d recommend. I have a large bust 34G and really struggled to like my body, to the point when in my 30’s I made an appointment for breast reduction. Thankfully for me, I decided against it.
I started a new career as a model 3 years ago in my 40s. In 2010 I volunteered for my first fashion show for Ilkleys Macmillan cancer support charity. The timing of this coincided with my divorce, after being with my husband since I was 16 to age 39, I lost a lot of confidence and had to redefine myself and this experience really helped me build it back up each year.
Then someone suggested I should try modelling, so four years ago I decided I had nothing to lose and applied to several agencies. To my surprise, I got contracts quickly and am now signed exclusively with Bridge Models in London. I am classed as a curve model, Size 14-16, which in the world of fashion is a plus size. Silly when you consider that is the UK average.
During 2017, the panellists of the UK TV program ‘Loose Women’ shared a photograph in their underwear for a campaign called #MyBodyMyStory, a campaign to help people appreciate their bodies and for others to stop judging. Photographer Mya Fawcett from Haworth put a call out on Facebook for volunteers to create their own group photo so once again I found myself saying YES. So, with a group of 14 women, whom I’d never met before, we all spent the day in our bra and knickers sharing our stories. What did I learn from it? That we are carrying so much emotional baggage around the things that we don’t like about our bodies. This really made me realise how much time and energy I had wasted worrying about my body and became a huge turning point. ‘Loose Women’ then picked up on the photo and we ended up recreating it live on the programme.
My newfound body confidence was liberating and led me to my next job, the dream job working with Ashley Graham for ‘Swimsuits for All‘ in the Bahamas. I found myself spending the week with four top models modelling swimwear in a music video with Lizzo. Something I would never have done when I was younger or ever thought possible at the age of 47. Every job is different, and I am really appreciative of every opportunity. In the last two years, my work included Panache Lingerie, Tesco’s FF Activewear, with Davina McCall, Studio10 make-up and I featured in three JDWilliams commercials.
I have talked to so many women over 40 who have lost their body confidence and feel invisible to the fashion industry and I’m now really passionate about being active to fight against it and use my voice. I’ve walked in the centre of London for several PR events in my bra and knickers and swimwear and love taking part in the Real Catwalk each year, so I think it’s fair to say my body confidence has grown!
I am now an Ambassador for the BeReal Charity which is a national movement determined to change attitudes to our body image and encourage putting health over our appearance. I am 50 next year and am looking forward to seeing what the next decade brings but I certainly don’t intend to become invisible!