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I changed my entire life at 54 – here's what happened

Fed up with ageist beauty standards, Mia Maugé set about making a change, jumping into a modelling career at 54

Woman sunbathing in an off the shoulder striped top
12 September 2023
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At 54, I was feeling fed up, finding myself increasingly annoying that the fashion and beauty brands that I shopped with weren't targeting my demographic.

Shopping in clothing stores surrounded by images of young people irked me! I decided to switch my private Instagram account to public to see if I could connect with midlife women who felt the same.

I thought if a community of likeminded women didn't already exist, maybe I could create it so we could all make a change. I wanted to be vocal and visible online, so I set about writing captions about how I felt.

View post on Instagram

Within four weeks, four modelling agencies scouted me. It was totally unexpected and out of the blue. My immediate response was to say to myself 'I can't do this! I've always been camera shy!' but I quickly realised I had to... here I was complaining about a lack of representation and I now was being offered the opportunity to be that representation. How could I decline?

I had to push through my insecurities because I felt this wasn't just about me. It was about age inclusion, diversity and representation. All of which are hugely important to me.

RELATED: 7 genuine reasons my fifties are my best decade yet 

I've always lacked body confidence, largely due to a lack of body diversity in marketing when I was becoming a woman in the 1980s, and when I was younger I turned down numerous opportunities, such as presenting on MTV, because I wasn't confident.

And that sense of self-doubt was with me when I first started modelling. Before shoot days, I wouldn't be able to sleep. I had terrible imposter syndrome because I never set out to do this as a career and I felt completely out of my depth.

Beautiful woman looking into the camera
Mia Mauge found confidence through modelling

Stepping out of my comfort zone

One of my first jobs was being booked for an M&S lingerie campaign (I've been told I was the first non-famous model over 50 to work with M&S), I was the only model my age, the rest of the cast were all young.

The thought of being on billboards and TV etc in my undies petrified me, but the campaign was about body diversity and skin tone diversity, which I wanted to see more of.

View post on Instagram

I knew it would be powerful but still, the anticipation of doing this shoot was truly nerve wracking. In the end, I just went with it.

Once I was on set, all my inhibitions lifted. I danced in my knickers for the nation to see and it felt completely liberating and empowering. Since doing that campaign I feel I can take on anything!

Sometimes being the only older model in a campaign feels tokenistic. But at least it's progress, and change doesn't happen overnight and I'm so very happy to be involved in changing the narrative around ageing.

 READ: How to be happy: 30 expert-approved tips to become your most optimistic self 

I know what I do is important. I'm challenging ageism and societal beauty standards that are so youth focussed.

Embracing my age

When I was in my forties, I feared ageing. I look back and think, "What a waste of precious time that was. Midlife has been the most magical time of evolution for me, and I wished I'd know that it would be so powerful.

Mature model smiling in a white shirt and jeans© Instagram
Mia Mauge became a model at 54

When I got to 50 I stopped dying my hair to hide my age and I truly embraced my age and owned it!

Modelling has completely changed my life. Until I started at aged 54, I really was a struggling single mum. There was no such thing as 'me time'. I was so busy being the archetypal strong independent woman. Now I work hard, but I know how to lean into my soft side and take care of me.

RELATED: A favour for a friend totally changed my life – here's what happened 

I have no plans to stop any time soon. I've done a number of panel talks in the past year, all around ageism and ageing in a youth focussed society. This is something I never imagined I'd have the confidence to do.

I was also recently scouted by a literary agent so I'm currently working on a book proposal too. I love to write, so I'm very excited about that!

 Visit HELLO!'s Happiness Hub for more inspiring stories.

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