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Rachel Peru: “Be consistent with your core message”

I would love to see a real movement around acceptance. Acceptance of ourselves and acknowledging that we are all good enough just as we are, right at this moment. Everyone is under so much pressure to reach unrealistic body goals and it’s draining. To be more accepting of others, to embrace our differences, there is […]

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I would love to see a real movement around acceptance. Acceptance of ourselves and acknowledging that we are all good enough just as we are, right at this moment. Everyone is under so much pressure to reach unrealistic body goals and it’s draining. To be more accepting of others, to embrace our differences, there is still so much judgement around in society of anything that isn’t perceived as fitting in to outdated boxes.

I’d also like to see a positive shift in how we perceive ageing and to encourage more respect and celebration of ageing. Marketing and advertising still creates media that makes us fear ageing and the beauty in ageing is often ignored. It has a detrimental effect on all generations as we add pressure to the younger generation to keep their youthful looks at all sorts of costs and makes older women reaching midlife and beyond feel invisible and written off.


At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s well being, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep and preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving leaders and influencers who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.

As a part of our series about “Social Media Influencers Share Their Top Self Care, Wellness, and Beauty Tips, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Peru, a Silver-haired curve model represented by Bridge Models in London.

Body confidence activist, influencer and host of the Out of the Bubble podcast with a growing reach across social media platforms of over 19k followers, Rachel has fully embraced her curves and her naturally grey hair. In fact, she has become famous for her silver locks and is flying the flag for misunderstood and misrepresented women everywhere.

She is passionate about showing other women, particularly those in midlife, that they are not invisible in the fashion industry. Rachel broke barriers when she appeared in a ground-breaking Swimsuits for All campaign with Ashley Graham, and her career was launched from there.

After starting a new career in modelling aged 46, Rachel now champions women in midlife and inspires others to step out of their comfort zone to become more confident through sharing other women’s stories on her weekly Out of the Bubble podcast.

Interviewing women from all walks in life including Meg Matthews, Olympic champion Jenny Stoute and celebrity stylist Nicky Hambleton Jones, Rachel has recently been included in Platinum Magazine’s top 50 influencers of 2020 list.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?

If someone would have told me in my twenties or thirties that I would become a full-time model in my late forties I would never have believed them.

I lacked confidence and had always struggled with my body image, trying every new diet out there, every new exercise class in the belief that if I was thinner with a smaller bust then I would be happy. I got to the point where I actually booked a breast reduction procedure because I hated their size and honestly thought this would make me feel happier. Thankfully I reconsidered, but 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 where I gained a 2.1 Education Studies degree at the age of 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 resulting in her being home schooled so I had to leave my full-time job.

This really knocked my confidence being at home and I definitely felt very isolated for what felt like a long period of time.

Little did I know what was in store for me in the following years.

Four years ago, aged 46, I began a new career as a model. I’m a UK size 14–16, with grey hair and a 34G bust.

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 was exhilarating. I had also decided to stop dyeing 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 and some encouragement from others, I decided to send photos off to agencies and to my surprise I was offered contracts.

I have found so many interesting and inspiring women in their fifties on social media that are starting new careers, taking up new hobbies and really embracing this next chapter that make you realise we all have so much to offer and we certainly shouldn’t be written off. This led me to starting the “Out of the Bubble” podcast interviewing midlife women, all with different stories to tell who can inspire others and hopefully set a spark for someone who’s on the edge of wanting to try something new and just needs a push of self-belief.

I have connected and been inspired by so many fabulous older women through social media that are really embracing this next chapter of life and finding new passions and purpose later in life that I knew I wanted to share their stories on a podcast and blog.
 
Out of the Bubble was created to spread some positivity around midlife and share inspiration to others that may be feeling a bit lost as they hit their forties. I know from my own experience that stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things in life can lead to all sorts of opportunities and bring a new lease of life for this next chapter.

I have interviewed over 85 women in the last two years and previous guests include Meg Matthews discussing the menopause; Olympic champion Jenny Stoute talking about her new modelling career and celebrity stylist Nicky Hambleton Jones. The podcast is streamed across all major platforms and is listened to across 53 countries.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I think finding love again later in life, I remarried at 44, has been a real blessing and my husband Mark has been so supportive and invested in my new career which has been invaluable. It’s always scary when you step out of your comfort zone so having someone close in your team encouraging you along makes a big difference.

Working with Ashley Graham for the American Swimsuitsforall brand in 2018 had a huge impact on me. Watching the way Ashley worked and how she really does embrace her body gave me such a boost and lit a fire inside me to own my space and to keep following my new dreams.

As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

I always think it’s better to have tried to do something without knowing the outcome than wondering what if?

See everything that you try as new opportunities to connect with new people, learn new skills and keep an open mind as you don’t know what direction in may lead to. When I started modelling it was never on my radar to start a podcast and now I love interviewing and presenting and who knows where this may lead to.

Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community?

I haven’t really had a strategy; I think you have to just stay true to yourself and stay in your own lane.

It’s easy to get sucked into the comparison rabbit hole and I think you have to be your authentic self to really build honest. connections with people.

Be consistent with your core message.

It has to be a two way street with followers too, I have met and made some incredible new friends through social media so taking the time to connect and listen to others is part of it.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart. You are a busy person with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self-care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? (Kindly share a story or an example for each.)

  1. Body-

Drink lots of water, it makes such a difference to my skin and my energy levels.

2. Mind-

I started practicing yoga at the beginning of last year and it’s made a big difference to how I feel.

I have such a busy mind I find it really hard to switch off, so yoga has been a great way to unwind and fully relax my body as well as stretching out neglected muscles.

3. Heart-

Being kinder to myself and allowing time each day to do things I enjoy more, making time to read, getting out walking. Putting myself first ,which I think can be hard thing to do , particularly for women as we’ve spent so much time making sure everyone else’s needs are met we often neglect our own.

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1.Affirmations really work, they can really shift any negative talk about how you feel and turn it in positive beliefs. Mine is “I am bold, I am brave, and I am beautiful” and it makes me feel strong inside when I see or say it.

2. I never used to invest in nice lingerie until I reached forty and started to work on my body confidence and now, I always wear matching sets that make me feel good. Something powerful happens when you know that you are wearing beautiful lingerie next to your skin when you step out of the door. It’s not for anyone else’s benefit but it shows your body you care.

3.Connect with the things that you really love to do as much as you can. When I’m outdoors walking or wild swimming that’s when I feel the most connected to myself and filled with joy, inner happiness, that’s what feeling beautiful is really about.

Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, or podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

I’m an avid reader and I love a good self-development book.

My go to bible is Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I always have it close by to dip in to and it’s become one of my mantras now.

I’ve read Tara Mohr’s Playing Big several times and it’s a great reminder if I’m having a wobble that you just have to make a start and it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Glennon Doyle’s Untamed and You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero both had a big impact on me and helped motivate me to start owning my space more and stepping up.

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?

The weirdest wellness experience I’ve had so far was covering myself in thick mud and then floating in the Dead sea in Israel. My skin felt amazing for days after floating in all the salt water. I love being in water so to lie there and be completely supported was incredibly relaxing.

As an influencer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would love to see a real movement around acceptance. Acceptance of ourselves and acknowledging that we are all good enough just as we are, right at this moment. Everyone is under so much pressure to reach unrealistic body goals and it’s draining. To be more accepting of others, to embrace our differences, there is still so much judgement around in society of anything that isn’t perceived as fitting in to outdated boxes.

I’d also like to see a positive shift in how we perceive ageing and to encourage more respect and celebration of ageing. Marketing and advertising still creates media that makes us fear ageing and the beauty in ageing is often ignored. It has a detrimental effect on all generations as we add pressure to the younger generation to keep their youthful looks at all sorts of costs and makes older women reaching midlife and beyond feel invisible and written off.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

Oooh this is a tough one as there’s so many! I’d love to sit down with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana as I would LOVE to work with Dolce & Gabbana so an opportunity to persuade them to use older models would be amazing.

I really admire CEO of Ann Summers Jacqueline Gold as I think she has really helped empower so many women but there’s still a huge gap in the market that ignores women over 40.

If I’m allowed to dream big, I would love a conversation with Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Brene Brown!

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can come and say hello over on Instagram @rachelperu or Facebook @rachelperumodel and Twitter @rachel_peru.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


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