Striking a pose and blowing kisses to the audience, Gillian McKeith looked as if she was having a ball as she strutted her stuff on the catwalk during London Fashion Week not just once but twice. But as the 58-year-old nutritionist told HELLO! she was a model with a mission, not only to shine a spotlight on up-and-coming new designers but to also bring a bit of diversity to the runway.
"No one expects someone like me, who's not part of the fashion industry, to do something like this," she says. "It's breaking down barriers, which is something I want to do. Ageism is everywhere and I wanted to say, 'Wait a minute, after a certain age you're still alive! You don't have to stop all your fun!"
Her catwalk debut was for Croatian designer Olya Sookie, for which she wore a revealing black body suit and teal dress.
"I was very, very nervous before the show as I was worried I might fall over," she admits. "We were given a bit of training but I had been practicing prior to this in my apartment. I'd walk down the corridor, into the kitchen, then the living room, to get it right. But as soon as I hit the catwalk I thought I was in a movie! I thought I was in Zoolander!" she laughs, citing both Ben Stiller and Gigi Hadid as inspiration.
Her second catwalk appearance was for her 17-year-old daughter Afton McKeith's T-shirt range, for which Gillian wore a T-shirt (and nothing else apart from platform boots) emblazoned with the slogan "Not the opinion of Others".
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"I deliberately wore that as I know a lot of people have a lot of opinions about me and I'm trying to get the message out there so I don't care what they say," says the You Are What You Eat presenter. "You really can't live your life worrying about what other people think about what you’re doing."
However she does want people to think about representation on the catwalk, and how the fashion industry can be more inclusive – especially for older women.
"They are being ignored, and made to feel they’re not relevant," she says. "I also want to get a message across to all designers to use healthy models of a proper size, not women who are sticks, or 5ft 11".
She hopes her foray into fashion will be an inspiration to others.
"I'm not the right height – I'm 5ft 2". And I'm not the right age. I wanted to give people the message, 'If I can do this, you can too'. There might e something in your life that you've stopped yourself from doing because you feel too old too, small, too this, too that, and there's me doing something I've never done in my life before in front of all these people. But I did it."