“I smile at people, make eye contact, always admire their dogs and if I see someone looking fabulous – I will take the time to tell them.”
Cathi, tell me a little bit about yourself:
I’m a woman of almost 60, with a previous and long career in schools – mostly working with young people with challenging behaviour. I’ve been writing and performing poetry/spoken word art for about 10 years, my first collection was published in 2019 and my second collection has a planned publication date. I’m currently working on a PhD in creative writing and also work as an educator, model and performer.
I have come to all of these things in later life – and my ideology/mission statement is to encourage other older people to take chances, do things they thought they were too old for and to challenge the casual ageism rampant in the world. I am committed to slow fashion, preloved clothes and dressing to make me happy and not buy into the ageist agenda. My social media and modelling celebrates ordinary ageing bodies – making these more visible in a world that often assumes that older people are not interesting or physically attractive.
I’ve been digging through your Instagram account for a very long time now and have read the countless inspiring captions. How important is it for you to share your views with other people?
Social media can be an important place to be the change you want to see – I want to shout from the roof tops that your 50, 60,70s and beyond are not the end of something, but a new and exciting part of our journey – one where we don’t have to follow any rules but can re-invent ourselves and celebrate being older. I’m so pleased that other people find something relatable in my Instagram. Older women, who actually look their age are absolutely invisible – if my tiny Instagram does something to challenge that – well that’s fabulous
“We live in a world of airbrushed perfection – where ordinary people compare themselves to images that are not real.”
Many of your texts are about the “body”. Every era has its own beauty ideals, and in the end everything is always subject to constant change. Why is important for you to have a good body awareness?
We live in a world of airbrushed perfection – where ordinary people compare themselves to images that are not real – ageing and the body changes that come with it are inevitable – I want people to celebrate the body they have – to enjoy the many marvellous things our bodies can do ….and to be able to do this without invidious comparison – showing my ordinary body is part of that process to help other people to see their body as a good body.
I challenge the tyranny of diet culture and disordered eating to show people that there are more positive ways towards body acceptance and a healthier relationship with the body they live in.
Your favourite piece of clothing?
I have a ridiculous amount of clothes – I like the idea of clothes as costume – using what you’re wearing today to express parts of your personality – I particularly like wearing vintage clothing – the idea that you are giving a new life to an old piece of clothing – In my day to day dress I like simple classics – a vintage tweed jacket and vintage jeans – simple, easy to wear and always looks good.
I love the story that you crossed a couple of builders who were walking towards you and one of them says that they often see you walk past and they love your outfits. I love the message you share with this story, that it’s important to have space for conversations. I myself come from a smaller place where this kind of thing is also quite normal. But I notice that in the cities it is often more and more difficult, because people isolate themselves more and more and a conversation with strangers is often perceived as strange. How did you keep this open nature?
One of the joys of getting older is that you worry less about other people’s opinions of your, your style, how you live – wearing interesting clothes is often a way of opening conversation – especially if, as I do, you generally think that most people are good – I smile at people, make eye contact, always admire their dogs and if I see someone looking fabulous – I will take the time to tell them. Even in big cities we can still live a small village life by noticing the people around us and trusting that random interactions are often very interesting.
Photography by Simon Carter @simonbalancer – www.instagram.com/simonbalancer
Model & styling: @cathirae – www.instagram.com/cathirae