Grace Meets: Rachel Peru

One of the biggest challenges that so many women tell me about getting older is feeling less confident in their appearance. BUT it doesn’t have to be like that! You can embrace yourself as you are and relish in a new type of beauty.

Don’t believe me? Meet mature, curvy model Rachel Peru, who you’ll recognise from our recent campaigns. Rachel discovered her confidence and a whole new career as a model in her late 40s. In just two years she’s gone from being a Mum to an in-demand model and age positive inspiration all in one.

I sat down with her to understand more about her incredible second act and how it's in our reach, we just need to grasp it with both hands.

Rachel, the story of how you became a model is amazing – can you share it?

Of course. I started professionally two years ago, at the age of 46. I’d never wanted to be a model, in fact, I had no self-confidence as a younger woman, but I’d had the lovely experience of walking the runway in a local show for a friend for a few years.

I started when I was 38 and at first I was so scared, but over the years my confidence grew and I started to enjoy the experience of being in front of everyone.

There was a photographer there who took some photos of me that I really liked and one day I just thought ‘why not send them off’! So I sent them to several agencies and I was delighted when very quickly a number of them came back to me.

Tell us about your first professional modelling job?

It was a beauty campaign for Feel Unique and I was so sick with nerves. I still get nervous now but back then I was terrified.

I could see the pictures were coming out beautifully though, and the client was really pleased, so I soon relaxed and just got on with taking great shots.

What’s been your best job so far?

In October last year I was hired for a swimwear campaign in the Bahamas with super-model Ashley Graham – who is lovely and even more beautiful in the flesh, not to mention very fit.

I was flown out there, stayed in amazing accommodation with five other models, and learned so much. We weren’t just lying on a beach, I had to model with jet skis and do a lot of fast-paced work. It was brilliant.

I got the job in a such a roundabout way too. I’d made a cheeky approach on Instagram and before I knew it, I was hired and on my way!

It just goes to show that you’ve got to put yourself out there.

And what has been the most unusual job?

I haven’t really had an unusual one, but I did a shoot with Davina McCall for Florence and Fred at Tesco last year. We were working outside and it was so cold. That’s when I realised it was actually hard work.

What about your own personal style – what do you like to wear? And has ageing and modelling changed this?

I don’t really have a set style as such, although I love vintage clothing, so I’m always experimenting with different looks.

I live in Yorkshire and I’m out and about a lot, so nice jeans and boots are a must – and I do like a chiffon shirt.

When I was younger, for nights out I used to cover everything up. I’ve got a 34G bust and I’d drape it in huge baggy shirts and dresses to hide it. Now that I’m so much more confident I prefer form-fitting clothes that make the best of my figure.

What would you say to someone who wanted to give modelling a go?

Go for it. Take some lovely natural shots of yourself, they don’t have to be posed, and just send them off.

I think that all women should try modelling just once in their lives. It’s so good for your self-esteem to see yourself looking beautiful.

What do your friends and family think of your new career?

I’ve got three children, all in their teens, and I think they’re secretly proud of me, although I suspect my son cringes a bit at the beach shots.

My friends and husband are both hugely supportive. I think I’ve surprised some people, but then I’ve surprised myself, in a very good way of course.

What does the future hold?

I’m so ambitious for this career. When I was younger I had lots of jobs but I never found something that I was truly passionate about. I’m more focused and determined than ever so this coming year will hopefully bring even more.

I’d love to work in the States more and see bigger brands using us older models, so fingers crossed that’s next.

And finally, have you got a piece of advice for women as they get older?

I really do – I always tell myself to just ‘do it’. Say yes to stuff, even if it scares you. You can work out the details later and worry afterwards but take every opportunity that comes along.

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