Meet the oldest supermodel in the world

British model Daphne Selfe has been gracing the catwalk since the 1950s, and at 83-years-old, she has no plans to retire anytime soon.

Defying the typical ‘model’ standard of retiring at 30, Daphne has remained successful as a model into her 9th decade of life, proving that beauty truly has no age.

She grew up in Berkshire as the daughter of a teacher, and was sent to boarding school at age eight. By 20, she was working as a shop girl at a store in Reading, where she decided to enter a local newspaper’s modeling competition and won.

When asked if she was considered beautiful growing up, she told Daily Mail, “I’d been told I was nice looking a couple of times, but no, not really. I then started working steadily, it was wonderful. In those days, all models had training, we were shown how to walk and stand elegantly.”

“I started off modelling fur, which in those days wasn’t controversial,” she continued. “I did mainly work as a house model, and a few advertisements. We were often photographed holding a cigarette, and I didn’t even smoke!”

When Daphne got married and decided to have a family, she figured her career was over.

“I assumed I would never work again. My family came first. We weren’t well off, but that didn’t really matter. It’s dreadful women today have to work and can’t look after their families,” she said.

She has three children — Mark, 57, Claire, 53, and Rose, 51.

“I fell out of fashion in the Sixties,” she continued. “I was what you called rather strapping, at 10½ stone! So I continued with a bit of acting work, and was an extra in films.”

Her modelling career picked back up in 1998 when she was asked to appear on a catwalk for Red or Dead. The stylist told her to go to Vogue, as they were creating a special issue on aging at the time. The photograph taken for that issue led to her being signed to Models 1.

She also noted how she still wears her old clothes, saying, “I tend to wear all the clothes I have in my wardrobe from decades ago: every style seems to come round again. The only thing I can no longer wear is high heels. My feet have vasculitis, a weakness and numbness. But from my ankles up I’m OK.”

At the Models 1 headquarters, her photo is the one on the wall that stands out from the rest of the 20-somethings signed to the agency.

She even agreed to pose as Madonna in her prime for Oxfam’s Big Bra Hunt, wearing the iconic cone bra and corset Jean Paul Gautier made for the singer in 1990. Oxfam hopes the photo will inspire people to realize the need for bra donations in developing countries.

When it comes to plastic surgery, Daphne squarely rejects it. “I’ve never had anything done to my face. Not that poison, not a facelift. I think it’s a waste of money. Anyway, I couldn’t afford it!”

She credits her graceful looks to good genes, long hair, yoga and Boots face cream. She dyed her hair when it first started to turn grey in her 40s, but eventually accepted her hair in its natural state.

“My hair is long now because it’s cheaper, I don’t have to do anything, but put it in a topknot or a French pleat. It avoids that old lady permed look, lengthens the neck and lifts the face. I’ve got so many friends who don’t touch the make-up pot. You should keep looking nice, it makes you feel so much better,” she said.

Commenting on the pressure facing models today, she said, “I would never have made it starting out today. I was too short, just 5ft 7in, with wide shoulders from all the riding I did as a young girl. But no one ever asked me to lose weight. Rationing was in place until 1954, so you were always grateful to get good food.”

Daphne’s success is a brilliant example of the new attitude toward aging and beauty, and one that needs to be widely embraced instead of the notion that older people are, by definition, disengaged or in need of constant care.

If only she could get on the cover of a big magazine. She said she met the publisher of Vogue recently, and asked him if she would ever be on the cover. His response? “Darling, you just won’t sell.”

We disagree.

Sources: Daily Mail, People, MSN

Photo ©Camera Press/John Swannell

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