Perspective of an older model
by Alex B
I am an older model, the kind of model that most agencies would slot in the 'classic' department. I became a model relatively late in life: my first love was dance, I trained in different dance styles from a young age and then pursued a career in that field.
I actually did some modelling when I was a young student, I worked as an artist model. In truth, I was not interested back then in becoming a model, I just wanted to be on stage, as anyone who studies dance dreams of, at that age. Also, let's face it, I did not have the typical model look - those were the days of the amazon model, so even if I had wanted to model, no model agency would have been interested. Today public perception of beauty is changing, in line with the fact that we live in a diverse society and therefore we can no longer uphold only one standard of beauty. But in my younger days the idea of diverse beauty did not yet have any currency.
Soon after I turned 40 I decided to let my hair grow naturally, giving up colouring it. I was always blessed with very thick hair and going naturally grey actually suited me and went well with my complexion. I also joined some life drawing classes, thinking I might finally turn into a painter but I soon found myself modelling again, rather than drawing. People would always ask me, because of my dance background I was able to hold poses. So I became a life model.
Then one day, a make up artist I am acquainted with encouraged me to go to a casting for a photo shoot for the magazine Woman. They were looking for 'real women' with a different look and my long grey hair was quite distinctive. I really enjoyed doing the shoot and decided that why not, I would like to be a photographic model. Just like that. That's how it all started.
Becoming a model is never easy but I guess that starting when you are in your mature years gives you some perspective, although you really have to develop a very thick skin to be able to deal with rejection. When Madonna turned fifty she said she would not be defined by age. She is damn right! I think that's an important statement.
I am , nominally, on the books of a few agencies but I mostly work independently, the majority of model agencies still tend to 'play it safe' and would not dream of putting forward someone like me for jobs which are traditionally the purview of the young – and by this I particularly mean fashion. Having said that, I also know that things can change. It is all in the mind, as they say.
I was once booked specifically to model mother-of-the-bride outfits for a charity fashion show. But when I went for the fitting, one of the models did not turn up, and they ended up giving me a red silk evening gown to model as well, simply because I was able to carry it off. So there I was, modelling clothes that would normally be given to younger girls. Think about it: women over forty do wear evening gowns for parties. Why should they not model them? The truth is that women in their forties and fifties can be as sexy as younger women. The fashion world should take notice of this.
I am a versatile model and love doing work that is dynamic, multi-layered and multi-referenced and that gives me scope to perform as a model. Because that is what modelling is really about: a model is a performer. I have a flexible and well toned body, I exercise regularly and eat healthy food to keep in good shape. I believe I can bring to a shoot great poise, elegance, confidence, maturity, sensuality and imagination: all qualities that come with age and experience!