July 18, 2023

Lady Liberté enters the world of burlesque

My 2023 challenge - Learn and perform a burlesque show live on stage

My Body Acceptance Journey

Even I'm surprised I've just performed my first burlesque routine!

You'll often hear me say ‘I would never have done this when i was younger” when it comes to modelling in my lingerie, showing up on social media talking about body confidence, body acceptance and being so publicly visible.

It’s true, I have been on such a confidence building journey over the last 13 years, with lots of wobbles along the way. Mentally, I’m in the best place that I’ve ever been with my body, even though physically there are still a lot of menopausal changes going on. But it will always be work in progress and finding body confidence is never a done deal.

 Stepping out of my comfort zone

Every year I like to challenge myself to push myself out of my comfort zone. Last year's challenge was to model nude for a life drawing class which I was obviously nervous about but found liberating. Taking steps out of my comfort zone helps me practice what I preach when it comes to body acceptance. 

2023 Challenge

I've been a big fan of Dita Von Teese for years and was over the moon when she shared an image of me wearing her lingerie for a Playful Promises Ageless Fashion campaign on her instagram feed, to millions of her followers back in 2020. After watching Dita perform live on her Glamonatrix tour last year, I was in awe of all the performers proudly celebrating their bodies.

I'm also constantly inspired by the brilliant Judith Vandepeer Delgado @pupindevert who started burlesque later in life and is now a regular in the UK burlesque scene aged 60, proving to any doubters that our age doesn't define us. If you don't already follow her on instagram go and give her a follow as she's just fabulous.

I knew I had to give it a go. This year’s challenge to learn and perform a burlesque routine had been set!

Tigz Rice x Miss Victory Violet Shoot Day at Berwick Lodge, Bristol © Tigz Rice Ltd 2019. http://www.tigzrice.com

Why Burlesque?

Hands up if you watched the movie "Burlesque" starring Cher and Christina Aguilera with curiosity? The art of burlesque has been around for years with seedy connotations but thankfully films like this and women like Dita Von Teese have made it a much more acceptable and popular art form.

What I loved and started to realise whilst watching Dita’s Glamanatronix show was the pure celebration and self-expression of the performer’s bodies, the mood and purpose was not around sexual gratification for men as I had previously thought.  Yes, the performers may decide to strip down to nipple tassels and G-strings, but it felt like it was ‘a fuck it, this is my body’ act of acceptance which I and the audience applauded.

Empowering women

Burlesque is an empowering art form for women, it provides a platform for self-expression, body positivity, and confidence. I’m drawn to burlesque performances because it creates a space for women to reclaim their sexuality and challenge societal norms, promoting the idea that beauty and sensuality come in diverse forms. It allows performers of all ages, shapes, and sizes to embrace their individuality and break free from traditional expectations, fostering a supportive community where empowerment and self-assurance flourish.

That’s what led me down this year’s path, would I be brave enough to stand on stage and do this?

Where do you start?

I had no idea how I was going to even start this challenge as there weren’t any local burlesque classes near me and I was beginning to think this one just wouldn’t happen. That is until a friend I'd met through social media, Jane Wood, who runs a dance school and Fem-Chi classes put a shout out on Instagram. Jane is passionate about helping women that are feeling disconnected from their femininity and sensuality. Helping women tap into their inner confidence and fierceness,  to help you regain that lost fire. Jane was a guest on my podcast recently so you can find out all about her here

She was running a 10 week on line burlesque course with the opportunity to perform as a group at the Womanifest in Cheshire this July. Talk about perfect timing! I was already booked as a speaker at this year’s festival, so I just knew I had to sign up. Not only did I sign up but I immediately put my name forward to perform a solo act.

Commitment. Classes, Can I really do it?

Apart from the occasional wedding disco, I haven't properly danced since my drama A Level in 1988, so it’s fair to say it didn’t come naturally. I was actively discouraged by my ballet teacher when I was younger because I did not have the right build for the ballet world (I'm sure I'm not the only person who heard this back in the 1970's).

I began to look forward to the 90-minute sessions each week and even though I struggled with my left and right and some of the moves didn’t come naturally I enjoyed the process. It was fun to learn something completely new, to switch off from the day and focus on something just for me.

Disconnecting from our bodies during the menopause

Like lots of women going through the menopause I have days when I feel disconnected from my body, and this really helped me appreciate my body and all it does for me. The other 6 women in the group were of various ages, mostly a lot younger but there was a common thread of anxiety and fear of expressing our sensuality that bonded us together.

Performance Day

I’ve just had one of the busiest weeks of the year so far which probably didn't help with the nerves leading up to Saturday. It also meant I hadn’t rehearsed as much as I’d hoped to. It even got to the point where I messaged Jane on my way to Cheshire to say I might have to miss out the group routine because I just hadn’t got it in my head. Jane reminded me that this was for fun, an experience to be shared and enjoyed and if a few mistakes were made, then so what? A great reminder not to take ourselves too seriously.

Show Time

The time had come and there was no going back. I did make some mistakes in the group routine but nothing major and I think I got away with it. Funnily enough I was more worried about the group performance because no one would know if things didn’t go to plan in my solo.

It was one of those moments that you have to fully commit and go all in, so I did and once the music started and I was on that stage it felt so liberating and I loved it! Slight hiccup half way through when I was dancing back towards the chair, and I realised my feather boa wasn’t there so I had to completely blag the second part of the routine but that’s show business!!

Freedom to express our sensuality

How often as women, at any age, do we get the chance to freely express our sensuality without fear of judgement? Performing at Womanifest, a women only festival was exactly what I needed. We all have different parts to our personalities, and they all deserve equal spaces to be let free!

I did this for me, and it felt bloody good!

I now have that video as a reminder. If I’m having a bad day and need to boost my confidence I’ll go back and watch it.

Rachel Peru performs her first live burlesque routine on stage

 

Have you ever been to a burlesque class?

Are you curious?

Just try it, it’s a great way to celebrate and embrace your body ❤️

Will Lady Liberté ever be seen again? Never say never!

Keep being fabulous.

Rachel x

May 31, 2023

Let’s Get Naked! #bodyconfidence

Let's get naked and learn to embrace our bodies. #bodyconfidence

For many of us, the idea of getting naked can be a bit daunting.

We have been conditioned by society to be ashamed of our bodies, to keep covered up and to feel like we are not good enough.

But what if we could shift our perspective and see getting naked as something that is positive and empowering?

Those that have followed me for a while will already know how passionate I am about women of all ages feeling comfortable in their own skin. I spent so many years worrying about my body which held me back and really knocked my self-esteem and body confidence. Since turning 40 I’ve been on a mission to change my mindset which has been liberating.

The Midlife Body Confidence Report

In 2022 I carried out a midlife body confidence survey where I asked 200 women how often they looked at themselves in the mirror naked?

10% Never - that makes me sad!

47% Occasionally - lots of room for improvement

24% Often - Great news

18% Everyday - YES!!

As part of my own body confidence journey, I have pushed myself to become comfortable with seeing my body naked without wanting to crawl under a cover and cry. What I’ve learnt to realise is all our bodies are so different, that none of us are perfect, and nobody really cares about the negative parts you get so focussed on.

Stepping out of your comfort zone

I’ve now done several nude shoots, the latest one with Helen Booth at Masque photography was one of the most authentic and raw shoots I’ve ever done. There’s nowhere to hide, but it's my body and that’s fine with me. Being interviewed naked for the Naked Podcast was one of the most honest and heartfelt interviews I’ve ever given. All these experiences have been empowering and liberating, there’s no need for any pretence anymore which is freeing.

'Let's Get Naked' shoot with Rachel Peru and Masque Photography

How I challenge my body confidence

I like to challenge myself every year and in 2022, I agreed to be a nude model for a life drawing class. I really had no idea what to expect. When I walked in and saw a room full of 34 people all poised ready to draw, part of me wanted to run out of the door, but I’m so glad I didn’t. The class was 2 hours long and I was asked to create lots of different poses with different angles. I soon became so fixed on making sure they saw interesting shapes that I completely forgot I was sitting there naked.

Walking around the room seeing all the different artwork and speaking with the artists was so refreshing. The class was of mixed ages and sexes, and all were there to get lost in their artwork for a couple of hours. I got so much positive feedback telling me how much they enjoyed drawing me. It was another reminder that our bodies are ok, flaws and all, and we must stop fearing our ageing bodies. I’d recommend life modelling if you’re curious about it and I’d certainly do it again.

Yorkshire Life Drawing

This year's challenge is to perform a live solo burlesque routine so “Lady Liberté” will be on stage at this years Womanifest on Saturday 15th July, eek!!! Lots more to come on this subject soon. #watchthisspace

Whilst I appreciate the things I’ve done may seem too extreme for some, here are some things to consider if you are thinking about getting naked and embracing your body.

The Sexualisation of Women's Bodies

One of the main reasons why many women are afraid to get naked is because they worry about being sexualised. We live in a world where women's bodies are constantly being sexualised and objectified, so it is no wonder that we are afraid to show our own bodies. But we should not let the sexualisation of women's bodies keep us from embracing our own bodies. Every one of us is beautiful, no matter what our size or shape. We should feel confident and proud to show our bodies, regardless of whether someone else finds them attractive. Remember that as you head to the beach in your swimwear this Summer.

Lifting the Fear of Being Naked

Another reason why many of us are afraid to get naked is because we fear judgement. We worry that people will see our flaws and judge us for them. But the truth is that everyone has flaws, and no one is perfect. Why should we let the fear of being judged keep us from being comfortable in our own skin? If we can accept ourselves for who we are, flaws and all, we can start to feel more confident about getting naked. And when we feel more comfortable about getting naked, we can start to enjoy all the benefits that come along with it.

The Benefits of Getting Naked

There are many benefits to getting naked, including feeling more comfortable in your own skin. Feeling more connected to your body. Tapping into your natural sexiness and confidence, and appreciating your body for all it is worth, flaws included!   Remember that you are beautiful just as you are!

It's also a great way to keep an eye on any changes happening with our bodies. Noticing any changes quickly can make a big difference to spotting any potential underlying medical issues.

Now, don't get me wrong—I'm not saying that we should all walk around naked all the time!

How can you challenge yourself?

How about seeing yourself naked when you’re getting dressed in the morning. Stop avoiding looking in the mirror. Learning to love and appreciate our bodies is an important step in learning to love and appreciate ourselves as whole human beings.

One of my favourite actresses is Emma Thomson and if you haven't seen Good Luck to You, Leo Grande then I recommend you do. There's a powerful scene which sees Emma strip off in front of the mirror and she described it as one of the hardest things she's had to do.

"If I stand in front of a mirror, I’m always sort of pulling something, or I’ll turn to the side, I’ll do something. I can’t just stand there. Why would I do that, it’s horrifying. “But that’s the problem, isn’t it, that women have been brainwashed all lives to hate our bodies. That’s just the fact. And everything that surrounds us reminds us how imperfect we are, and everything is wrong with us.” •

Whilst Emma still continues to have her own body insecurities she did report feeling more accepting of her body.  I think that's a much more realistic goal.

“It’s easier for people to feel neutral about their body than it is for them to go, "I love my body." That, I think, is really helpful. And it’s something that you can sort of practise on your own."

So, if you're struggling with body image issues, try this little experiment: next time you're in front of a mirror in the morning take off your clothes and say these three things to yourself:

"I love you,"

"You are beautiful," 

"Thank you."

It sounds simple, but it just might change your life!

For more body confidence inspiration check out the rest of my body confidence blogs

Keep being fabulous

Rachel x

 

November 6, 2022

Giving the “Perfect” Body the Finger

When you think of the ideal female body shape, what comes to mind?

Chances are the image that popped into your head was influenced by the fashion industry, media, and advertising. Throughout history, these industries have dictated what is considered fashionable and what is not. The result? A never-ending cycle of women dieting and going to extreme lengths to achieve an "unattainable" body type.

I’m a size 34G bust and as a teenager with a developing body I became hugely self-conscious of my growing breasts. By the time I was 16, I was a DD and with that came unwanted attention from boys, which left me feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed, and negative about my body. I desperately wanted to be able to wear a backless dress and remember feeling left out that I couldn’t. Aged 30, after having my three children I booked to have a breast reduction. I had seen the consultant, set the date for the operation and a couple of weeks before this was due, I changed my mind. Up until this point I had convinced myself that if I had smaller boobs my body would look better, and I would feel more confident. I don’t know what changed my mind but I’m very glad didn’t go through with it.

I spoke to a friend of mine recently who is much smaller chested, and she shared how that had also knocked her confidence over the years and often left her feeling less of a woman.

When it comes to the size of our boobs and body sizes, women have been pitted against for decades by the fashion industry, as they dictate what body shape is "in" and what's not.

It's time we reclaimed our bodies!

Let’s start with the super curves of the 1950’s when women strived to have an hourglass figure like Marilyn Monroe, then came a sudden shift in the 1960’s with Twiggy’s flatter chested much thinner look ruling the fashion industry. Only to be told that curvy bodies were back in favour influenced by the super models of the 80’s, followed by Kate Moss’s super slim, waif like physique shifting the ‘perfect’ body barometer once again.

Do you see a pattern emerging as each decade sees a sharp shift of body shapes developing?

Just when you might have thought we’d made real progress and started to see a diverse representation of women’s bodies shapes the worrying article “Bye bye booty; Heroin chic is back” emerged in the New York Times this week. There are so many reasons why this latest ‘trend’ is so alarming

  1. Women’s bodies are not trends
  2. Women who are naturally slim shouldn’t be labelled in such a derogatory way
  3. The last time we saw this trend in the 90’s it coincided with an increase in eating disorders as young girls strived to ‘fit in’ to society

Women of all shapes and sizes are made to feel inadequate by these unrealistic standards. Well, I say screw that! It's time for us to turn our backs on society's idea of the "perfect" body and love ourselves for who we are. Here's why...

Women's Bodies Are Not Fashion Trends!

The first reason we should reject society's view of the "perfect" body is because women's bodies are not fashion trends. Fashion is about what you wear on the outside, but our bodies are so much more than that. Our bodies are the vessels that carry us each day.

They give us the ability to see, to hear, to feel. To think, to love, to laugh. Our bodies are amazing! And they deserve to be treated with respect and love, not judged against some arbitrary standard set by the fashion industry.

We Should Be Turning Our Backs on So-Called "Perfection"

Secondly, we should be turning our backs on so-called "perfection" because it's an unattainable goal. There is no such thing as a perfect body, no matter what society tells us. We are all uniquely beautiful creatures, each with our own individual quirks and imperfections. Embracing those imperfections is what makes us perfectly human. I don’t recall men being told what shape their bodies should be to be “in” either.

So, let's start loving ourselves for who we are, not who the fashion industry, media and advertising says we should be! Let's spread the word to protect the younger generation so they don't feel the need pressure to conform.

It's time for us to break free from society's unrealistic standards and learn to love ourselves for who we are!

Repeat after me-

Our bodies are not fashion trends, and "perfection" is an unattainable goal.

So, let's start celebrating our unique beauty today!

December 29, 2021

Why I’m saying “NO” to New Year, New You

Let's drop the "New Year, new you" narrative.

I’ve already lost count of how many “join my diet” club invites I’ve had literally since Christmas Day morning along with those “New Year, New You” messages.

How about ...You are enough...just as you are...right now!

After years and years of forcing myself to try every diet going I came to realise that they don’t work for me and my mental well-being.

I need to be happy in my own body and to me that means enjoying my life without the punishing diet mentality. I am healthy, love moving and finding joy in being outdoors and that’s enough for me!

I’m all for growth and people deciding to make changes for themselves but this direct hit straight after Christmas can lead to so many women feeling under pressure to change just because we’re bombarded by adverts telling us we need to. Obviously we all want to be the best version of ourselves , especially as we age but that means something different to every individual. The danger is that post Christmas becomes a weapon for those in the diet industry to prey on those feeling most insecure about their bodies. This can lead to even more negative thoughts about our bodies as we are left feeling inadequate for society standards.

A survey carried out by Second Nature showed that 90% of people give up on their new year diet just 12 days into January, with 83% going on to gain back more weight than they lost, leaving people feeling worse about themselves than when they started.

If you’re struggling with the post Christmas pressure try and focus on the things that keep your head in a good space, protect your boundaries.

Here's a few ideas that might help-

  • Getting outside for a long walk, fresh air and nature always give me a boost
  • Spend time with those friends that always leave you feeling happier
  • Switch off from social media
  • Get lost in a book.
  • Keep a journal
  • Meditation, even just for 10 minutes every morning can really help
  • Focus on the activities that you love
  • Be kind to yourself, we don't have to be self improving every day. It's ok to have a down day and allow it pass.

What works for you?

Just remember “You are enough.. just as you are…right now!” ❤️

#embraceyourbody #youareenough#ditchthedietrules #bodyconfidence#newyearsameawesomeme#midlifewomen #confidenceandcurves#lifeafter50 #fiftyandfabulous#loveyourcurves @bridgemodels ???? @jamesmelia

Rachel Peru model- James Melia photography

You are enough..just as you are..right now

October 19, 2021

Silver & Sassy- Grey Haired Women Are Not Invisible

Men are silver foxes but women are letting themselves go if they decide to ditch the dye?

When Annie Stirk first came to me with the seed of an idea to celebrate grey, white and silver haired women which we'd planned to be part of York Fashion Week 2019 I completely got it.

Silver & Sassy

I started going grey as a teenager, not really a shock as my grandmother was completely white at a young age.  Dyeing it every colour of the rainbow, from Navy Blue, Blonde, Bright Red and Plum , the list goes on.  I don't really remember anyone batting an eye.  Fast forward to age 45 when I decided to ditch the dye and embrace my grey hair and people suddenly had an opinion. Comments , which all came from women, included "You're too young" , "Don't let yourself go" and "it will make you look older".

I'm sure it's too do with societies conditioning around the fear of ageing. Grey hair is another sign along with wrinkles that we are ageing, and to be honest thank God we are lucky enough to still be here to show them when so many others aren't! There is still so much fear around the whole subject. We wanted to create an uplifting fashion event that challenges those outdated stigmas  and celebrates women embracing their grey hair. Reminding women that may be feeling a bit lost that we are most certainly not invisible!

Silver & Sassy event

The event, held at the beautiful Goldsborough Hall, involved 13 models who all volunteered to join Annie and I on the catwalk. These women had never done anything like this before but completely embraced everything we threw at them. With a fabulous styling team; Sara Anson and Trudy Fielding, behind us showcasing 7 brands from small independents to well loved high street names. It was important to Annie and I that not only did these women leave feeling more confident about themselves but so did our 90 guests. After the last 18 months there was a really positive energy coming from the audience and their support for every women that stepped out was palpable.

Our models ranged from late 40's up to 77 and indeed our oldest model Heather Sandler often stole the show with her sass and personality.

Why we need better representation in the media and fashion industry.

Although we have started to see more older women included in media and advertising campaigns they are still token gestures and  yet to be included in fashion campaigns on a consistent basis. Deciding to ditch the dye often comes at a time of great change in a womans life, children leaving home, adjusting to an empty nest, caring for older parents, the menopause. All these can have a huge affect on your body confidence. Add to that the lack of visibility in the images we are bombarded with daily and it's no wonder that women often feel invisible and lost.

When you consider that the over 50's spending power is one of the largest and fastest growing in the UK it makes you wonder at what point will brands start really listening and learning how to include us in their marketing. We were delighted to have high street brands John Lewis Leeds, Figleaves swimwear, Fenwicks and Jigsaw in York involved in the show alongside independents Copper & White, Cabi Clothing, My Vintage Beau, Natalia Willmott jewellery, Molly Titfer hats, The Yorkshire Handbag Company and Yorkshire Eyewear.

Seeing our models of all shapes, ethnicities, heights and at different stages of their grey journey really felt like a powerful statement. The women in the audience clearly enjoyed seeing the clothes on women they could relate to as they enjoyed shopping after the event after being inspired by what they'd seen. This seems to be a perfect way to shop and target the older market and perhaps we'll see more in person fashion events as an after effect of the pandemic. I really do hope so! I’d love to see more brands creating live fashion events to really connect and understand their midlife customers better.

Is the tide turning?

It does feel like the tide is turning with celebrity role models like Helen Mirren, Andie MacDowell and most recently Dawn French embracing their grey hair in the public arena. You often hear women described as being brave for going against the ‘normal’ and these women are under so much scrutiny in the spotlight but owning it. I completely agree with Andie MacDowell when she told Vogue she’d never felt more herself,  able to embrace where she is right now and completely comfortable in her skin,  I feel exactly the same and its freeing.

I’m sure that comes with age as much as embracing the grey, I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. Deciding to ditch the dye can be a very positive experience and so many women find it liberating, stepping out of your previous fashion comfort zone can be a real part of that change.

Women supporting women

With award winning presenter Christine Talbot as our host we knew we were in safe hands and it was a pleasure to have Jayne Mayled, founder of White Hot Hair and Tricia Cusden from Look Fabulous Forever as our guest speakers to share their pro-ageing wisdom too.( I have to say our award winning hair and make-up artist Sonia Schofield and her team did an amazing job enhancing all the models natural beauty using Look Fabulous Forever make up).

There’s never been a better time for women to support women and this event really showed that as we also raised money for the York based women’s charity Kyra.  The event was kindly sponsored by York Gin and Figleaves.

Enjoy a few of the images of all our gorgeous models, all at different stages of their own grey haired journey, different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages but all Silver & Sassy!

 

 

 

Annie and I are already planning what's next for #Silverandsassy and we want to reach as many women as we can with our positive message. The icing on the cake came from being featured on ITV Calendar and then going national on All Around Britain.   (watch from 31 mins in)

We are Silver & Sassy!

Huge thanks to everyone behind the scenes who helped make the day the success that it was.

All images @Olivia Brabbs Photography

March 1, 2021

Finding body confidence in midlife.

How I have overcome my lack of body confidence to become a silver haired curve model, modelling lingerie at 50.

Rachel Peru model

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

To the point where I actually booked to have a breast reduction because I hated the size of them and honestly thought this would make me feel happier. Thankfully I reconsidered. 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. After fifteen years in various retail roles I had my three children and then retrained as a nursery school assistant, it fitted in with family life easily. I found myself getting divorced at 39 and decided to finally go to University. I am proud to have gained a 2.1 Education Studies degree aged 41. I was delighted and thought I had finally got my career mapped out and imagined a new career in teaching.

New beginnings

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

I didn’t plan to do this; it just sort of happened at a time when I least expected it. After getting divorced at 39 I went to university and gained a BA in Education Studies and worked as a nursery teacher which I loved. My eldest daughter was struggling with severe anxiety which in the end led to home schooling and me leaving work. Being at home really knocked my confidence.  I felt very isolated for what felt like a long period of time. I was asked to model in a local Macmillan 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 it was exhilarating.

I had also decided to stop colouring 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 Macmillan for a few years I decided to send photos off to agencies after some encouragement from others and to my surprise I was offered contracts.

I am now signed exclusively with Bridge models in London and I love my new career, I get to meet so many different people, travel and wear some fabulous clothes, including swimwear and lingerie.

Representation matters.

But the thing I have become most passionate about is being able to represent women in midlife and help challenge the media and fashion industry.  I am finally happy in my skin and have never felt more confident about my body.  I am aware so many women in midlife come to a body confidence crisis and when you look at how invisible in media, marketing and the fashion industry it’s hardly surprising.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go lingerie shopping in a department store and see models in their forties and fifties as well as the younger women? We want to be able to relate to the images and imagine how I would look in them, instead we are bombarded by youth which often leads us down a negative ageing body comparison.

I want to be able to share all my experience and knowledge gained,  all of the things that have worked for me over the last ten years that has helped me become happy in my body and move forward in life. This passion has led me to gaining a BodyLove diploma.

 

Keep being fabulous

Rachel x

 

 

July 8, 2020

Beach Body Ready – Have a body and head to the beach!

Beach Body Ready, it's really very simple, have a body then lets head to the beach!

My tips on how to be body confident this Summer as I share some of my favourite swimwear 2020.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that has spotted the dreaded "How to get a beach body" articles shortly after travelling was given the green light again this Summer.

Marketing companies and the media should receive an award for piling unrealistic pressure on women as they plan their summer wardrobe and beach attire, especially when they hit over 40. The majority of the swimwear images I see are so unrelatable; I realise I didn't look close to them in my twenties so at 50 I don't stand a chance!

When it comes to choosing swimwear, all I can tell you is ditch the rules and wear what makes YOU feel good and to hell with what anyone else thinks. If you're a swimsuit woman that's great, if you prefer to wear a two piece that's fabulous too, there is no right way, what ever makes you have the most body confidence. I've heard so many women share opinions on both and it's time we stopped judging one another. I love wearing bikinis because they make me feel free but I totally understand other women feel better in a one piece.

Here are some of my favourite swimwear for 2020 to give you a bit of inspiration.

I've recently discovered the WeAreWeWear brand and I really love their collection. This Bright Pink bikini is reversible so Pink or Red depending on your mood; you could also mix the tops and bottoms. I love a high waisted bottom and the drawstrings give you control on how you wear them. I'm a 34G and went for a Large which fits well and feels secure with the halter neck. This set is in the sale too so a bargain at £31 for the set.(https://wearewewear.com/products/long-line-reversible-red-bikini-top)

If you've never looked at the Figleaves website I can highly recommend you do as they have a really great collection of stylish one pieces and bikinis to fit a wide range of sizes.

How pretty is this Toulouse curve tummy control swimsuit! I love the ladder detail across the waist which helps create a gorgeous waistline for curves. £45

(https://www.figleaves.com/uk/figleaves-toulouse-mindful-curve-non-wired-plunge-ladder-tummy-control-swimsuit/FIG-013954.html?dwvar_FIG-013954_color=755160&cgid=newarrival#start=15)

I also love this Paradise Island swimsuit as the straps are detachable so great for avoiding tan lines and would look great worn as body underneath a jacket and jeans later in the evening. I'm all for multi tasking my wardrobe. £55

(https://www.figleaves.com/uk/figleaves-paradise-island-underwired-bandeau-tummy-control-swimsuit-b-g/FIG-013546.html?dwvar_FIG-013546_color=754485&cgid=swimwear-swimsuits#start=12)

I don't think you can go wrong when you shop at Bravissimo if you're a larger busted lady. I've shopped with this brand for the last ten years and they've never let me down when it comes to choice. This asymmetric swimsuit from their St.Tropez collection really caught my eye, I think its a really stylish look. £58

(https://www.bravissimo.com/products/st-tropez-swimsuit-sw560/#tealnavy-sw560tvy)

Tankinis can be a great option too and I absolutely love this electric Blue Santa Monica set from Pour Moi, don't be afraid to be stand out and own your spot on that beach.

The ruching on this set is so flattering and again a swimsuit that would look great with a maxi skirt in the evening. £49

It's about trying different style until you find your own body confidence.

(https://www.pourmoi.co.uk/products/santa-monica-removable-straps-non-wired-tankini/?styleid=69272)

I've tried and tested several of Pour Moi bikinis in the last few years and find them to be a great fit on the bust making bigger busted women feel nice and secure. The set below is from 2019.

2019 Pour Moi set, photographed by Laura Adams.

My personal favourite for 2020 is MissesBrie's collection, I am going to have to wait for the sales but there are some eye catching pieces in this fabulous collection. I'm a huge fan of the Sports Illustrated swimwear model Brielle Anyea and have watched her career blossom so I wasn't surprised that her swimwear collection is as stunning as she is. Briella is also another great model who is full of body confidence.

The colours and the style of this Baddie bikini is stunning but at £81 I'll have to keep it on my wish list.

Don't be afraid to look on social media at what other women are wearing though as there's so many smaller labels out there that you would otherwise miss.

(https://missesbrie.com/collections/new-arrivals/products/baddie-bikini)

What ever you wear , enjoy your Summer and hold your head up high.

Repeat after me...

"I AM GORGEOUS
I AM BEAUTIFUL
MY BODY IS MY FRIEND
I'M GOING TO ENJOY MY SUMMER"

June 10, 2020

The Impact of Lockdown Life On Body Confidence

How to love your body during lockdown.

I hope everyone has been surviving lockdown and managing to keep well. I am sure I’m not the only that has found this experience to be a real rollercoaster of emotions but what I hadn’t anticipated was the effect it would have on my body confidence.

In normal circumstances I consider myself to be very body confident, it’s something I’ve worked hard on and I guess it’s become part of my personal branding. I’ve modelled swimwear with Ashely Graham and represented older women in several lingerie campaigns, so I’d like to think I had the body confidence issue covered!

During the first few weeks I found myself joining every online exercise class that was thrown at me, some of which I really enjoyed, others began to feel like a chore. After a few weeks, life settled into a new normal routine and I’ve thrown myself into working on projects and recording Liberte Free to Be podcasts, so I've had less time available. That’s when the guilt set in, I started feeling bad about myself because I wasn’t doing as much exercise or healthy living as friends and others on social media seemed to be. The saying “Comparison is the thief of joy’ is so true and this was another reminder of that.

I’ve continued to shoot from home and recently completed my first paid home shoot since lockdown began, for a lingerie brand. Whilst I am really happy with the final images it took much longer to shoot as I found myself being super critical and really harsh about my body and the fact that I’d put a few pounds on. For the first time in years I even weighed myself. In normal circumstances I wouldn’t have stressed about this but during lockdown it’s caught me off guard and I admit to having a small meltdown about it. I quickly remembered it's ok not to love your body every single day but you have to accept it, that's much more manageable and realistic.

I am happy to say this blip didn’t last long and I managed to get myself out of those negative thoughts, but it did stop me in my tracks and make me analyse why I reacted this way.

We have been bombarded by social media posts and advertising selling exercise classes and telling us that we should be all improving our lives during lockdown. How many times have you heard someone tell you’ve they’re learning a new language or attending every yoga class they can find? Whilst all this self-improvement is amazing if that is right for you how about those people that are just trying to survive and get through each day in their own way. There is no right or wrong way. Add this to the glib remarks added to articles and posts about weight gain it’s no wonder peoples' body confidence can be knocked.

Here are some tips that have helped me.

Unfollow/Mute accounts that have made you feel negative about yourself. Social media can be such a positive place if you carefully curate it to suit you and can be changed depending on your own state of mind.

If you are wanting to be more active, make sure you do the activities that you genuinely enjoy. I’ve started dance classes with The School of Strutt which I love and it doesn’t feel like exercise.

Don’t be camera shy. Start taking selfies and really look at yourself. Look at your face and recognise the person looking back at you. I found this really therapeutic and it was like reuniting with a stranger. It makes you stop and remember who you are and what you’ve achieved to get to this point, it helps put life and body insecurities into perspective.

Start a gratitude diary. I’ve used this lots of times over the years and began it again during lockdown, it helps remind you of all the positive, often small things each day to be grateful for.

Start the day thinking of one thing that you like about your body and make it your daily mantra, one of mine is ‘I love my smile’ other examples could be “I love how strong my legs feel’ or “I love the colour of my eyes’.

Keep repeating it to yourself throughout the day and you will be surprised how quickly it can make a positive difference. Once it becomes a routine you can then add more body parts and keep adding to your list.

Lastly, be kind to yourself and accept that your body is a vessel that has carried you through so many different experiences in life and is always there for you, so it deserves your love. We don't have to love our bodies every single moment of the day but body acceptance is much more important and realistic. Once we gain acceptance it frees up space in our minds to get on with life and keeps everything in perspective.

Keep being fabulous x

 

 

February 1, 2020

Body confidence on camera.

Body Talk exhibition with Shy Burham photography & poet Sharena Lee Sattit

Many women still feel very uncomfortable talking about their bodies, particularly in a positive manner. We are all so good at complimenting others but often struggle to show self love and appreciation of our own bodies. Photographer Shy Burhan and Poet Sharena Lee Satti came together to create an exhibition breaking this taboo and celebrating body confidence. Women from diverse backgrounds were invited to submit three words describing what they love about their bodies before being photographed by Shy. Sharena then wrote a beautiful poem called 'She is a goddess' inspired by those photographs.

Opening night was a sell out and it so lovely to see the women showing friends and family their photographs proudly hanging on the walls at Kala Sangram in Bradford. Shy ended up with 58 women, she originally asked for 52 to represent each week of the year but had such a positive response she didn't want to turn anyone down. I love that all the women were truly diverse and different, a true reflection on women in society today. Wouldn't it be great if those people who organise fashion and beauty advertising came to events like to see what true representation looks like.

There is something very moving about seeing women embracing their bodies coming together to celebrate. It's so important that we have creative people bringing projects like this to life to help break down body confidence issues and improve our mental wellbeing.

The exhibition will run until 3rd April and I'm looking forward to then buying my own art installation cylinder, it's going to become our new wine cooler and certainly a new topic of conversation!

The word joy sums up the art installations as part of the exhibition, the 58 women all look so different but so happy and free to express themselves. It was such fun shooting with Shy for this project, lots of movement and laughter.

I'll leave you with this beautiful poem "She is a goddess' written and performed by poet Sarena Lee Sattit. The opening night performance saw this poem accompanied by a beautiful dancer, it was a very moving moment.

 

What three words would you use to describe why you love your body?

Mine were.

Gratitude, Strength and Acceptance.

Rachel x

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