Recently Maria contacted me, telling me her story on how she became a model at age 43. Intrigued I decided to ask her how she did it and how other women after 40 could become a model as well!
Hi Maria. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for 40PlusStyle. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I am Maria from the Netherlands. I live on the country site but I was born and raised in a City in the middle of the Netherlands. I am married and I have two teenage children. I work as a model, as a make-up artist and on events and meetings as a hostess.
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
I am 46 years old. I started as a model at 43 years old. I actually dont like the word “old” as I am not feeling old, but i feel like I am at a good age. In Germany ” senior” models are called ” best-agers” , i like that, because being 40+ feels like a best age !
Can you tell us a bit more about your website and blog. Why did you start it?
The first years as a model I joined a lot of forums. On forums you can upload your portfolio and pictures and meet photographers to get jobs for free work or paid shoots. On one forum a man, named Scott Gonnello, contacted me and made an offer for a model-website. I thought about it for a while, but it all looked very good. It took me some time to start working on it and to learn about blogging, tagging, google search engines etc, but now I am getting better at it and it is very important to me. It is like my ” business-card”, it represents who I am, my portfolio and it enables people to find me.
You decided to become a model at age 40+. Why did you have a desire to start a modelling career?
Like every girl, i always had a desire to become a model. But my life went in a different way. I was studying, then started working to make a living, got children and worked even harder to get everything going. When I was 43 years old I went to a photographer as some sort of reward for myself, after going to the Gym for five years in a row. Then it all started. The pictures were very good and I decided to do more. I started to build my portfolio, went to agencies and got signed in. Not long after that I got my first paid jobs. Modelling at my age is not about fashion or doing catwalks. It is mostly editorial work, business-brochures, websites etc. I represent a 40+ women so I am asked to be a mother, a teacher, a business-lady, a director etc. There is a lot more about the modeling-business than the things we see on TV and in magazines..
How easy was / is it to become a model at this age?
It was quite easy because there are not many women in this age-group who are willing to travel, be flexible, diet like forever or to work for free for building up their portfolio. It takes a lot of work initially… And the models who have been doing this their whole lives are mostly too expensive for stock photography, editorial work etc.. as they are known faces and stick to the big contracts. I started from the ground up though, because it is an unrealtisc dream to think that sending handy-made pictures to an agency will get you a contract or work. You really have to invest time (and money) into getting good sedcard-pictures to represent yourself and to build up a portfolio.
What are the requirements of being a 40+ model and getting jobs? Do you need to keep in shape? Use special treatments?
Yes and no. You will probably get more jobs when you are in shape and have a healthy weight. But there are also plus-size models and other models that don’t fit the mainstream who are getting jobs. I think it is more about the total picture of a person. You have to look good on pictures and you have to be able to act. Mostly it is about the product (for instance a kitchen or a bike) and not about the model. Sometimes it is about the company, or what the company has to say. Being represtentative is more important than being hollywood-pretty.
In your experience, are companies starting to use more models over 40?
Yes! People are not comfortable anymore with buying products or a message from a girl who looks like your daughter. The market for 45-65 years olds is getting bigger and bigger. These people are having more time and money because they are in a stage in their lives where they have more time to enjoy their leisure time since the children are mostly on their own now. They also tend to be more interested in welness-health-holiday magazines than fashion. It is ridiculous seeing a 20 year old model on a picture selling a wellness or medical product aimed at seniors. Thankfully, advertisements are becoming more and more a reflection of our society.
Is there a lot of work for models over 40? What kind of jobs do you do?
I work for stock photography, business brochures, websites and editorial pictures like: welness, yoga, holiday/recreation pictures etc. I also work with photographers for free work to renew my portfolio once in a while. Free work is mostly about being creative, working on themes etc. Apart from that, I also work as a life drawing model/artistic model. This is not about erotic pictures, but for painters and photographers who are creating beautiful (naked) pictures in landscapes or in studios mostly referred to as ” body-art” or ” Fine Nude Art”.
What is your advice for other women over 40 who would like to start a modelling career?
I would like to point out that you will need good pictures to get started. Go to a very good photographer who is willing to help you out with some great portraits and full-body pictures (on which you are shown from toe till head). You can also setup profiles on modelling-forums like Modelmayhem, modelingseo.com, one-model-place etc. Here you can meet photographers and learn a lot more about the business.
Let’s talk a bit about your personal style as well. How would you describe your style?
I am a classic and chic lady. Not very modern or girlish. I do not have tattoos, piercings or any plastic surgery at all. Most people also call me very natural. I also never tan. I am pale white and always stay out of the sun. Photographers are very happy with that because it is very nasty to correct skin-tone variations due to sunbathing. My classic style is convincing as a business-lady and most jobs require that. I am not afraid of getting older. I want to do that in grace and style and I hope to be a nice, goodlooking grandma some day, pictured with a lots of kids while baking coockies or reading stories to them on a couch.
How do you go about choosing your clothes and what inspires your outfits?
Basics and Classics. I like to combine timeless classics with the latest trends to update the looks. I personally think we as 40+ year old women, should not want to look like our daughters. We should have our own style, which is representative of this wonderful time in our life.
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
A few months ago I gave up mini-skirts! I saw a woman of my age in a store wearing a mini-skirt and suddenly it looked ridiculious. Some things are just not looking good anymore when you are getting older. On the other hand: i still wear a bikini in the swimming pool.
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
Yes I believe it’s better to look good as a 40+ women, rather than to look bad while trying to look ten years younger. Clothes that suit your body shape are mostly sexier and better looking than clothes in the latest trends that don’t suit you… Some fashion trends are very nice for 40+ women, but some are only for younger girls, like skinny jeans, leggings, baggy shirts or very low-waist trousers.
Would you say that at this stage of your life you are now more, or less interested in fashion, style and the way you look?
I have always been very vain so I always tried to look my best. I don’t follow fashion like a blind horse, but I am very interested to learn about and search for fashionable clothes that are good for my daily life and model-jobs. When I have to dress like a business-women, i mostly have to bring my own clothes. Good classics are essential here. For pictures there are some rules: less is more, black makes the picture dead, grey can make yu look even older, etc etc. It is an art to find good clothes that work well in daily life as well as for jobs. My work as a hostess is even harder. I have to look very representative, but wearing high heels all day can be extremely tough, so shoes need to be of high quality. The clothes need to fit perfectly, but also be comfortable enough to be able to smile the whole day.
Do you have any other style tips for women over 40 that you like to share?
Yes, don’t try to look like your 15 year-old daugther. Even if you have the body for it. You can look drop-dead gorgeous in a beautful dress and completly frustrated in a skinny jeans and flowerprinted-shirt. Also, it is better to buy a few good leather shoes/boots than having 50 pairs of lousy cheap fake-onces.
Do you plan to continue with modelling and how do you see your career develop over the future?
Yes, I hope to model till the end of times. I am doing yoga on a daily basis to stay lean and in good shape. I hope my children wil be proud when they see me in magazines as an older lady or even as a grandma. With or without my own teeth, I will smile from ear to ear.
Anything further you would like to add?
If anybody wants to ask me personally or need my help (or providing me a job) dont hesitate to contact me. I think 40+ women should support each other in stead of focussing to hard on being competitive. I am willing to help anybody within my power.
Thank you Sylvia for this interview and your wonderful website.
Maria’s full name is Margaretha van der Vet and her model name is model-maria. For more information or to book Maria you can visit her website.
Would you like to see more 40+ models in the media? Would you want to one yourself?