(Image credit - @carolinelabouchere)
Talks on life, love, and change with Caroline Labouchere, the model best known for her signature grey hair. With a following of almost 300 thousand people on Instagram @carolinelabouchere, the 57 year old beauty, shares her journey of self-discovery, and talks about her passion projects, one of which includes bodybuilding
By Indira Kasaeva
Her Instagram bio reads “At 57 years old I am the person I always was but never had the opportunity to be” so I sat down with Caroline to talk about her story. A look at her profile shows a woman looking her very best and owning her beauty; I can happily report that it also shines within her. Everything from her honesty and humbleness to the grace and charm showcased a woman of a strong spirit, one that was forged by life.
She moved to Dubai 11 years ago, following her husband David with his work. Today she’s a successful model with eight British Vogues under her belt, an influencer (even though she doesn’t like the term) and an athlete.
However, it wasn’t always like this. There were difficult times that created that transformation into the confident and brilliant woman she is today. Having asked her about her bio, Caroline gives me the back story.
What does “I am the person I always was but never had the opportunity to be” mean?
There was a difficult time when David had lost his job, to the point of having no home. We had to live in an apartment without an AC and sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I wanted to hide my tail between my legs and run away (return home) but he was determined to stay, because of what opportunities Dubai could offer.
Growing up, I had always been looked after. I was brought up to find a husband and be taken care of. That’s why I felt so let down because I didn’t know there was another way. I never had a career, I did some jobs, a nail technician, an upholsterer, I worked in a café, cooked breakfasts for people, had a sandwich business – but never had a real career.
That’s the time when I completely changed my thought process on life. I was woe is me: my husband can’t support me, it’s the most terrible time of my life, and just felt really sorry for myself. I needed a kick, and I got it. That’s the defying moment, when someone had told me: You need to take control, and for the first time in my life, I realized that I can.
That enlightenment gradually took over, where I found the strength inside that I didn’t know I had. And all women have it, that is what I have come to believe now and want to express to those like me – that they can do anything at any age.
It isn’t like you turn 50, hit menopause and that’s the end of the world. You can do anything, it’s just the mindset. I get messages from women all the time, telling me that they resonate with this motto. People also say “oh it’s empty nest syndrome” and I say, forget about all the negatives, your kids are still around. I love seeing my kids, they’re 25 and 27 and we have a great time when we see each other. But I love being with my husband, we love going to the cinema on a Friday or Saturday morning and just like hanging out together. Luckily, we have a lot of things in common, like pushing our bodies to the limit. David’s an IronMan and he wants to succeed at that for the rest of his life.
On Fitness I recently started a new fitness journey into bodybuilding. Why anyone would want to do this I don’t know but it’s putting me out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing. The more you put yourself out of the comfort zone, the more you learn about life, and the more you learn about yourself. It’s been only three of four months – but it is hard. The food discipline is the hardest part.
For me right now my passion is exploring my body and seeing if I can change it, at the age of 57. Many women think it’s possible, but that’s what life is about, not giving up on living. I could sit watching Netflix and eating Maltesers, I could do that easily (she says laughing) – but easy is no good.
How do you describe your profession?
I’m a model, I have been modeling for four years now – LOVE it. I’m an athlete, I’ve run a 100kms – it was an amazing challenge. And a “little bit of an influencer” as I don’t like the word, and it makes me feel big-headed to say it. It makes me uncomfortable, but I haven’t come up with an alternative yet.
I still find it difficult to reply when people ask me “What do you do?” because in the grand scheme of things I should come straight up and say I’m an influencer, because I spend more time creating content than I do anything else.
What is your daily routine?
Mornings are usually a coffee, walking the dogs and the gym, followed with personal projects, and then events. Today for example I have one with Hermes and Charlotte Tilbury. Oh and also two lives, one because it’s National Menopause day, and another Live with Dr Bickham – we’ll be talking about metabolism.
Gym is a daily routine, seven days a week, however it’s going to shift to five – because my arms are too tired. I’ve never experienced this before (she says with eyes gleaming full of excitement) but I’m beginning to see some muscle! I’ve also just recently reached monetization on YouTube, which has been long process to get the content going.
My modeling career started initially in London when I was living in Dubai. My daughter Mimi was working for No1 Botanicals, and they were looking for a grey model. They had interviewed Maye Musk but she wanted a lot of control over the creative direction and also cost lot of money. They were quite a small company, so Mimi showed them a picture of me, and they flew me to London. It was my first modeling gig. I was in the British Vogue eight times in the first year – which was mind-blowing and gave me such a [confidence] boost! And that’s another aspect of it, I didn’t know I could do this, I hated cameras all my life. We were brought up not to look in mirrors, as it was considered vain.
I love every modeling job; from the make-up artist designing their vision and being dressed – it’s a creative process.
What’s the most unique aspect of your work?
The most unique aspect working in this industry here is that I’m grey. I arrived to Dubai 11 years ago with short grey hair and everyone said, you can’t be grey here, so I went blond. Then some years ago I had a turning moment where I'd had enough of dying my hair every three weeks.
My mom is grey, she was grey in her 20s, and so I let it go. I was given a hard time, not by my family but friends, surprisingly. I think we have to give up on the whole idea of grey being old, hopefully that’s what we’ll teach our children.
Do you think there is an age where women can reach complete acceptance of themselves?
Accepting may be a little bit dangerous, because we are all a work in progress, and have to work on ourselves every day. Be it, being kinder, fitter – it’s the small things and the big things – every day.
We continue to learn until we die. One thing I can say – menopause hits you like a ton of bricks, but the more we learn about it, the more we learn about ourselves, and the less we stress. Perimenopause starts from 37 to 41, and at times earlier, so you have to know your body, tracking your cycles.
I don’t think I’ll ever be completely happy with myself, but I think that’s kind of a good thing. It’s a matter of perception, that you want to make yourself better.
I want uncertainty ahead of me, excitement, what’s next – you have to keep pushing – that’s what I want out of life, and each person needs to find out what it is they want.
57 these days is nothing, it’s not what it used to be.
How did you manage to create such a long and loving marriage? I saw you recently celebrated your 30th anniversary.
I trained him very well, it’s taken me 30 years [laughs Caroline] and if you ask him, he’d say he’s trained me. A lot of it is accepting him, and having boundaries is essential. Occasionally, I’d say something and think to myself “oh, I shouldn’t have said that”!
You’re two people living in a house, NOTHING is perfect, and no one should want to be perfect.
It’s also a conscious choice to stay, you change so much throughout your life, your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s are different. I’m an entirely different person than when we got married but that's okay.
He is incredibly patient, supportive and acceptive of me, I guess I’m lucky that I found him.
In 30 years, there were moments when it almost ended, the closest we got to divorce is when I felt he let me down, when we were living in that apartment and sleeping on the floor.
In the end, when it came down to it, he said "you should just go back to England” and then I realized that I didn’t want to go, to leave, and however hard it was, I didn’t want to be without him.
We have a saying “if you ever leave me, I’m going with you” and that’s been our motto since we were dating. I adore him and cannot imagine life without him.
Your top three pieces of advice are…
If you try new things, you’re going to make mistakes – and that’s what life is all about, so live life, don’t just accept it.
If you’re having a down period, that’s fine too! Because life is a roller coaster! You have to believe that whatever happened was for a reason, and there’s something better ahead.
You are the average of the five people you spend time with, so surround yourself with positive people, otherwise you get dragged down.