Model & Founder of The Edible Bus Stop
– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
I liked Tomboys. So in films and on TV any girls/women, whether overtly a tomboy in style or just in attitude, inspired me. Lucy from Charlie Brown was big on my radar. But then again, so was Suzi Quatro, Polystyrene of X-Ray Specs, Chrissie Hynde and all of the Slits. I think Purdy (played by Joanna Lumley) from The New Avengers was the one that nailed being feminine, smart and tough with style the most for me.
Who are they currently?
The brave souls that stand up against fierce male voices in their communities and cultures. That spans all cultures, even my own. For a woman to say, I have an opinion, that is measured, thought through, my body and mind are my own and I will not sit down and shut up, takes a lot of courage. I’ll refrain from naming them as I may miss out important ones. There are so many and they ain’t about to take any mansplaining quietly.
Most valuable lesson taught by your Mother or any other women growing up?
Don’t rely on a man. In fact, don’t rely on anyone else. Do what you can to be self-sufficient. If anything else comes your way, well that’s just a bonus. Don’t use kids as pawns in the battle of a divorce. My mother actively encouraged access to me. She was also very big on knowing table manners.
Do you think older women are valued or celebrated enough?
It depends. Amongst my friends, male and female, there is a deepening respect for older women. As a single woman in her 50’s, I get attention from men much younger than me as well as in my age group. So that indicates to me that older women are still regarded as alluring.
” In the media, an older woman is never afforded the same opportunities or even slack, as a man. You have a handful of examples that are lauded and respected but, on the whole, it’s a niche market. So no, not enough in mass media, but on a personal level, I think there is much respect. Guess I move with good people surrounding me.”
Have you made career changes over the years?
I’ve always had fingers in many pies. Aside from being a fashion model now for 33 years, I co-founded a reggae record label in the 90’s (Riz Records), represented Premier Model Management as a spokesperson and judge, scouted for locations and produced fashion shoots for foreign editorial clients in London, worked as a PA/firefighter for a gloriously bonkers banker, and oh yeah, co-founded The Edible Bus Stop.
That was possibly my greatest achievement to date.
Let’s go through the decades!
20s: Wish I’d done more realizing how amazing I was doing in a crazy business. Actually looked at myself and said, you’re holding up well, you’re staying sane, you’re a good person in a mad, bad world.
You’re not fat so stop thinking you are! My 20’s were unbelievable, so much traveling, so much world exposure, so many horizons, smells, cultures, tastes, people, dawns, sunsets…. It was epic!
30s: Almost ditto with my 20’s except now I was entering womanhood proper. I think I felt the most confident of my life, up until then, in my mid-30’s. I think there’s a real peak in physical and emotional beauty at that time. In hindsight, that’s when I could have moved away from modeling and utilized my connections better, but I didn’t, so, so be it. I went alone to India with the intention of traveling for 3-6 weeks, but I didn’t come back for 6 months. I am so thankful I did that. I was already very well-traveled, but this was me, discovering me and finding out I wasn’t half as awful as I thought I was! In fact, I liked myself.
40s: Possibly shouldn’t have got married again. Yup, looking back, that was a mistake, but a lesson I needed to learn and is empowering me now. In my 40’s so many insecurities just melted away. They became obsolete like VHS tapes. I also finally heard my true calling. It was initially a humble one, save that bit of green by your local bus stop. Keep public land public and get it growing. From that first thought, my life was changed by what is now my greatest passion. I had no experience in any of the fields I now know far better. Landscape architecture, community engagement, horticulture, public speaking, funding applications, proposal writing, social media, and all the other gubbins associated with running your own business… none of it was familiar to me. The whole Edible Bus Stop experience has been a steep learning curve.
Essentially, it took until I was 45 to find my true passion. I had had immense fun along the way, and I utilized the skills I had learned in my life up until then, finding ways to overlay them into this new unchartered territory.
50s: Just one year in. The feeling physically older bit sucks. The onset of the menopause has posed some challenges. I refuse to not talk about it. It’s as though it should only be discussed in female circles in hushed tones. Not in my books. It hit me like a steam train last year. Ridiculous hot flushes, forgetfulness and fuzzy brain, raging anger, insomnia and my tits starting to head south, it has been a bitch of a ride. Challenging as it’s been, there are up sides. Such as not giving one fuck anymore. No, not one. Rules, what rules?
I have got in touch with my inner Honey Badger. I have long since cared less if I am liked. What other people think of me is actually none of my business. I have learned to say no. I have incredibly close relationships with women and men, some of which have been in my life for over 30 years. I feel really blessed by them. I have come to the conclusion, that for now, I do not seek a conventional relationship with a significant other and far prefer my freedom. I choose the company of people when I want it. I have really started to choose me.
What have been your greatest challenges?
Loving myself and accepting who I am, warts and all. Alongside this, fighting being put in a box I do not fit into. Being a model often comes with judgment from others.
“Being unmarried, not in a relationship and having no kids comes with a lot of judgment. I am no less of a woman. No less of a sentient human being. I still love, I still nurture.The letting go of what others think made a massive difference to that claustrophobia.”
This also applies to whether I really want a full time ‘partner’ in life. Overcoming loneliness and understanding that I am at heart, a solitary soul that conversely loves company, and that’s totally OK, has been incredibly challenging.
What are you most grateful for?
The opportunities life has afforded me. I have been given so many choices. So many in the world have limited choices and I like to think that I have grabbed many offered to me by the horns and held on tight for the ride. My health, my sense of humor, without both, life would be so less enjoyable. Also, as previously mentioned, my close friendships. My best friends have got me through some very tough times. They’re my diamonds in the dust. I am truly thankful for the incredibly close bond with my mother. And her cheekbones, thank heavens I got her cheekbones! My dad’s blue eyes and height.
Has there been a significant circumstance good or bad that changed your outlook on life?
Yes, but it’s still difficult to discuss in public. I experienced violence in my early 20’s from men that are meant to protect us and I have never trusted authority since. The lesson I learned from that, is we are all just humans, stumbling our way through life, often really fucking up along the way. There are good people and bad people in all walks of life. No one group can claim ‘we are all good’ or vice versa.
Thoughts on aging,
The downside…The elastic going. It’s vanity, pure and simple, I don’t mind the lines, I do mind watching my jaw line drupe!I also wish I had the ability to sleep like a teenager.
Oh how I long for deep, deep sleep!
The confidence and surety that actually, you become more beautiful and compassionate. The deep spirit emerges. The fact I have such long close friendships and those people know me so well and still love me in spite of that is awesome!
Your advice to young women of today?
Enjoy it! Go for it! Wear a higher factor sunblock! Don’t be so hard on yourself. And don’t rush into being in a relationship just because your biological clock is ticking. Think that one really carefully through. I have NO REGRETS that I am a childless mother. I have found many ways to nurture, children aren’t the only route.
Oh and re-think the ink! Too many tats going on…
Images courtesy of Makaela unless credited otherwise.
FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS
Book/Novel : I’m not a big reader of novels. I think one of the books that had the biggest impact on my early years, was Malcolm X’s biography. His journey was an incredible one. He made some major changes to his mindset at an early age and then again later in life, that takes immense courage.
Film: Again, just one? Blimey, umm… Bladerunner, because I love Rachels styling. Moulin Rouge,
cuz I love a camp sing-a-long
Scent: The man, whatever man that is, that I, in that moment resonate with, I love his smell. It’s all about those pheromones! Otherwise, I like to wear simple oils and natural scents. Rose, or citrus uplifting scents. I have an Oak oil which is lovely. It’s got to be alluring…
Flower: Oh for the love of Mary… gain, just one!!? I just can’t, that’s impossible! All flowers are good, especially ones that are considered weeds. They, to me, represent tenacity, survival and almost certainly give the bees what they need. And believe me, it is all about the bees now.
We got to save the bees!
City: London. I love my hometown, I really do. I have had the great fortune of being able to travel and live in many cities over the years and each and every one has, in one moment or more, blown my mind. I love nature, big sky, the ocean, mountains and valleys, but there’s something about the city… NYC/LA/PARIS/MILAN/HAMBURG/TOKYO/SYDNEY (just some of that I have had the fortune to live in) wherever… the rhythm and pulse holds me transfixed.
Skincare product you can’t live without: My grandmothers genes. Period. And factor 50! Stay out of the sun girls… really, STAY OUT OF THE SUN!
Lipstick: I tend to use products that are cruelty and harmful chemical free. No one brand I stick religiously too. I normally have about 5 lip glosses in my bag. Currently, I’m rocking bright pink. Love a glossy lip!
Food/Meal/Cuisine: I am a fish-a-tarian, so any culture that can cope with not throwing a pound of flesh on my plate is normally good with me. Japanese, Italian, Lebanese, Macrobiotic, New British.
Song: Currently, I am listening to a lot of David Bowie, I listen to a lot of reggae, its food to my soul.
A recent song on repeat, that I sing to myself is
Chairman of the Board ‘Give me just a little more time’
Style Icon: Tilda Swinton. Debbie Harry. Chrissie Hynde. Kate Moss in vintage normally nails it.
Artist: Off the top of my head… Richard Long, Antony Gormley, Andy Goldsworthy – who are all landscape artists.Most kids drawings; I love the way a kid can tell a story with the lines and color that isn’t polluted with the thought, is this good enough?