As she celebrates her birthday, Rachel Peru has good reason to look forward to the future.
Aged 49 – today – this former nursery teacher has carved out a new career as a successful model, appearing alongside the likes of Ashley Graham and Davina McCall.
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Another year older & the countdown to being 50 next yr begins! #49today #birthdaygirl #midlifewomen #greyhairdontcare #justgettingstarted #embracinglife
— Rachel Peru (@rachel_peru) May 20, 2019
Rachel’s story began six years ago, when, after three decades of dyeing her hair, she decided to embrace her grey hair. (She reckons she spent in the region of £30,000 on salon visits and root touch-ups since going grey at the age of 13. How many Hermès bags is that?)
Looking at photos of Rachel when she dyed her hair, you still see a strikingly beautiful woman. But her grey locks add to this, highlighting her enviable cheekbones (damn my squirrel cheeks) and warm smile – together with the confidence you see from a woman embracing her natural looks.
Consequently, she was bombarded with compliments telling her how photogenic she was – and should be a model.
And so when she was 46, she decided to give that a go…
“I’ve not looked back since,” says the mum of Millie, 20, Hamish, 19, and 16-year-old Nancy.
After being quickly snapped up by Bridge Models in London, Rachel has become one of the hottest models in town, featuring in campaigns for Ulla Popken, JDWilliams, Tesco F&F (with my beloved Davina) Panache lingerie and Swimsuitsforall, among many others.
And she isn’t stopping there.
“My confidence has grown so much and I’ve met so many interesting people that I decided to launch my own podcast Out of the Bubble,” she tells me.
“It’s aimed at inspiring midlife women by sharing other women’s experiences and I have just started working on the second series.
“There are so many amazing women out there in their 40s and above just getting out there in life and really embracing this new chapter.”
You can see why I like her.
Here, Rachel tells us how she took the leap into modelling, what life is like for a midlife model and the important lesson she has learnt from her new life…
How did you begin modelling?
I volunteered for a MacMillan Cancer charity fashion show locally ten years ago and can’t tell you how nervous I was. But I continued to volunteer every year and my confidence grew each year.
I was encouraged from that to try and see if I could apply to be a model so, at 46, I did.
My three kids are older teenagers now, so I really do feel like I have some time back to start something new.
What is life like for a midlife model?
I love the variety of work as I’m the kind of person who struggles with monotony. It’s great fun seeing how the make-up artist can transform you with different looks and I like the creative side to modelling.
There’s also a lot of waiting around for the phone to ring for your next job which can feel frustrating. I think it’s much easier to deal with that side of the industry in my 40s. I think there’s a lot more pressure on the younger models.
Why didn’t you model when you were younger?
I would never have even considered modelling when I was younger. I was far too self-conscious and lacking in confidence.
What is the best part of being a model?
I love sharing my experiences with people in the hope it might spark something off in somebody else, just as I have been inspired by so many other women that I’ve met and followed on social media.
And what do you like least?
That’s a difficult one as I don’t tend to let things get to me like that like. I’m just being true to myself and I hope that comes across.
I love where I am right now and hope it can continue so I am just trying to enjoy everything that comes my way.
Do you have a favourite campaign?
Every job I’ve worked on has been something new and I truly appreciate it when I’m working.
I have to say that the campaign with Swimsuitsforall.com has definitely been a highlight so far – working with Ashley Graham alongside a list of amazing models for a week in the Bahamas.
Has modelling taught you anything?
Patience! There’s a lot of waiting around so you have to be prepared for that, Fortunately, I love reading so that helps.
It’s also taught me to believe in myself so much more since I first started – the imposter syndrome is definitely shrinking.
Do you think your growing confidence has had an impact on your daughters?
I really hope so. They can see that I am getting out there and trying new things and being comfortable in my body so I hope that’s something that will help them.
Have you learnt any beauty tips for midlife women?
Be yourself. Wear what makes you feel good and not something you feel you should be wearing for your age. There is no wrong age to express your own style and personality.
And finally, what’s made you smile today?
My husband Mark on the phone today. He works away from home Monday to Friday and we had our lunchtime chat, which involved some of his cheeky banter and made me laugh out loud while I was out walking the dog.
Which of Rachel’s images is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.
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