Meet 50-year-old lingerie model Geeta J
“Let people say what they want. Logon ka kaam hi hai baatein karna.”
“You’re looking good, you have such luscious locks, you should do some modelling for a shampoo or hair oil ad.” I was around 14-15 years old at the time and my mind was set on becoming a model. One on hand people would always compliment and encourage me, but then they’d say ache ghar ki ladkiyan aise nahin karti hain. “You’d have to go to Mumbai, Mumbai toh mayanagri hai.” So I set aside my dream aur bas, sapna wahin chhut gaya mera.
After graduating from college, I found a stable job, got married. Though I was busy with family, my spirit was restless, I still wanted an identity of my own. I became a teacher and worked with NGOs. I founded the campaign Age Not Cage to fight against discrimination and ageism.
Then about two years ago, I stumbled across an ad for a beauty pageant on one of the social media pages. It said ‘age no bar, height no bar’, matlab koi eligibility criteria nahin just come and participate. I was 50 at the time and had never heard of a beauty pageant like this. I knew if I tried out, I would be one step closer to my dream, but I didn’t think that one click would completely change my life.
I was crowned first runner-up. My family was supportive throughout, they knew how much I enjoyed it. Within six months, I had taken part in another pageant. That was the boost I needed to take the plunge and create a modelling profile for myself. Maine aise hi shuruwaat ki apne sapne ko poora karane ke liye.
Photos of my first shoot got a lot of compliments on Instagram. Other than the people who already knew me, nobody could tell my age. There were the usual comments – ‘hot’, ‘sexy’ and ‘beautiful lady’. Some would DM me – Date pe jaogi mere saath? Can I be your boyfriend?
When I finally chose to share my age, there was a switch. People started telling me how I’ve inspired them.
Until then, they only saw me as someone fit, confident in western clothes – they must have thought that ‘woh 30 years tak hogi’. In society, the stereotypical image of a lady who is older than 50 is someone who has let themselves go and doesn’t like dressing up, who is unattractive and undesirable. That is exactly the image I’m trying to break. There are more women like me, most of them are just afraid to come out from the shadows and be who they want to be. I’m glad I can inspire someone to do that.
At first, it made no difference to me whether it was for saris, dresses, lingerie or jeans, I just wanted to model. As long as I liked the project and didn’t find it vulgar, I would do it. I’m constantly inspired by Helena Schargel, a 79-year-old lingerie model from Brazil. After reading her interview, I thought to myself that I’m just in my 50s, I have plenty of time.
Whenever you go shopping or buy something online, especially for lingerie, you see a certain type of model. We barely see mature models in any advertisements. Unless it’s for traditional wear and saris. I wondered, do women just stop wearing lingerie and nightdresses after a certain age?
With age our bodies and hormones change and including mature models in lingerie ads will not only boost confidence for women beyond the age of 40 but will also pave the way for other platforms to follow suit. People’s mindset in our country will change, those who think that after 40, women should dress and behave in a certain way and can help to stop age shaming incidents. For this, I have started a petition.
Ads on TV and the internet have such a powerful influence, and that is being lost with no representation of mature models. I’m sure many people criticise and mock me behind my back. Some do it to my face. The first time I publicly shared my journey, there were plenty of such comments on that post.
Women empowerment ke naam par kuch bhi, this is not women’s empowerment.
You just want attention.
Main kabhi nahi chahungi ki meri beti aapke jaisi lady se inspire ho.
But these comments were just a drop in the sea of positivity I have received. I know I am not wrong for doing what I am doing so I turn the negativity into positivity to boost my confidence and carry on. I feel so happy when I read messages of encouragement from people. When they ask me for advice on how they can also chase their dream at an older age like me.
Like a gentleman in his 40s who said he doesn’t wear trendy clothes because of his age. But seeing my journey has given him the confidence to wear what he wants. I went to his profile, and I saw the change in his attire and attitude.
Another girl messaged me saying that her mother and aunt want to wear Western-style clothes but they fear what people will say. She said, “I showed them your pictures and told them your story and now I think they will have some confidence too.” It is through these small changes that I have actually been able to positively influence people to be true to themselves.
That is all the encouragement I need to carry on. I’m going to model and inspire others to chase their own dreams, regardless of their age. Kyunki sapano ki koi expiry date nahi hoti hai!
As told to Sara Hussain.