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Im-pur-fect Roz Purcell says 'ageing is not easy when looks were my main asset’

"I came from an industry that was purely based on looks - that was my main asset, so I am finding ageing really hard to deal with"

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Influencer Roz has a new-found respect for her body.

Influencer Roz has a new-found respect for her body.

Influencer Roz has a new-found respect for her body.

It's 8am on a blustery Tuesday morning when I answer a call from Roz Purcell, who immediately launches into an apology for the early call.

The Natural Born Feeder author, celebrated cook, influencer and creator of Hike Life has a finger in many pies and as a result, like any busy entrepreneur, her time is precious.

All cut glass cheeks, full lips and doe eyes, the Tipperary native was only 19 when she became Miss Universe Ireland - launching what was to be an illustrious and ultimately tumultuous modelling career.

More than a decade on, the onward march of time has become a concept the 31-year-old now grapples with as so much of her identity has been wrapped up in her striking good looks.

"I do feel the ageing process, I am not someone who loves ageing," admits the social media star, who has become famous for her no-holds-barred approach to taboo subjects.

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Bestselling cookery author and entrepreneur, Roz Purcell won the Miss Universe Ireland title in 2010.

Bestselling cookery author and entrepreneur, Roz Purcell won the Miss Universe Ireland title in 2010.

Bestselling cookery author and entrepreneur, Roz Purcell won the Miss Universe Ireland title in 2010.

"I came from an industry that was purely based on looks - that was my main asset, so I am finding ageing really hard to deal with.

"I am very open about that and fair play to the people that are like, 'I love ageing and I love wrinkles'. That's good for you but I am not going to fully pretend that I am okay with that, because I am not."

A candid voice around physical and mental health, Roz has openly spoken of the eating disorder that plagued her in her 20s throughout her modelling career.

It's a lived experience that has made her a harbinger of change when it comes to the unrelenting beauty standards perpetuated by social media - and perhaps partly the reason she is sitting on half a million Instagram followers.

Determined to share unedited photos that celebrate cellulite, dimpled thighs and tummy rolls, she's carving out a new space online, and we at Magazine+ are here for it.

"A couple of years ago I said, 'I can't do this anymore, I can't be online, I feel so shit scrolling through Instagram'," she admits. "I felt like everyone was putting on this facade and not saying how they really were.

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"I was going to come off it and then one of my friends said, 'Well you would rather be on it and saying something good than off it and saying nothing?' I will never change my body or my looks, but I will use a filter that can make a photo more colourful and more beautiful and I could have taken dozens of photos to get the best shot.

"We are all putting our best foot forward and I think having that in the back of your head when you are scrolling through Instagram can be quite comforting because it helps you to stop comparing."

While age has brought her a new-found respect for her body, Roz admits she still has testing times when it comes to fully accepting herself.

"I am honestly so busy at the moment that I don't have too much time to think about myself, but when I do, I am not 100pc happy. I am not like, 'I love who I am now'.

"At the end of the day, we are all normal, we all pretty much have the same thoughts and while my page is very positive, I do try to show up looking like a melted welly and be like, 'I don't want to age and does anyone have any advice?'"

Explaining how social media can so often be a triggering space for those who have battled eating disorders, she says: "When it comes to disordered eating, I definitely feel more confident in my body. But do I still have triggering moments? Absolutely.

"Being online I would get awful comments from people that don't follow me or from the male gaze, 'Oh, you've really let yourself go'. Then the next message from a guy would be, 'You're wearing so much make-up'. I mean, pick one.

"Recovering from an eating disorder, a big thing is dealing with weight gain and recognising that gaining weight is totally fine. When someone does say something like that you think, 'Was I better the way I used to be?' But then I realise what they say isn't real.

"It isn't a linear recovery," continues Roz. "There are times in my life you could ask me this question and I would say, 'I am totally recovered and I will never go back, I am fine'. And then there are times where I could go through a really bad week where I couldn't get anxious thoughts out of my head and need to take a step back from everything and go back to therapy.

"At different times of my life the answer will be different. For me, it never fully leaves you but it becomes way more manageable. It becomes easier for me to read a comment or have an intrusive thought and say, 'that's irrational' and move on. And every year it gets easier."

Speaking as part of Repak's Team Green campaign, the eco-conscious influencer admits that she never looks back at her highlight reel.

"I grew up on a farm," she laughs incredulously. "You just keep going. I have the mentality that I am constantly looking for the next big thing, that I never say that was great, well done. I will say, 'What's next?' I never think about the past.

"I do think, like most people, when you grow up in an Irish household you have this idea that you grow up, you get married and you have kids.

"I am trying to remember that they are not my end goals. They are things I haven't achieved yet so I am trying to look at my accomplishments as accomplishments and not look at those as something to work towards.

"There is a lot of pressure to have kids. When I turned 31 I just thought, 'I am going to miss the boat with this', and that is terrifying because I haven't made up my mind yet.

"People always ask that question, it is always brought up and it doesn't serve anyone. I have been getting that question since I was 21."

Looking to the future, Roz, who lives in Dublin with her music promoter partner Zach Desmond, hint a relocation might be in the pipeline.

She says: "I love being in Tipperary with my family, but when I was younger I just wanted to get out of there. I find it hard opening the door and being on a street.

"I am mad to get a house down the country and do it up. I would love to renovate - my handyman skills are terrible, but I can YouTube it.

"Right now, there is no way I am buying because the house prices are just going up and up and it is stressful to a point thinking about the amount of money I have wasted renting in Dublin over the past decade. I don't even want to add it up because it would be soul-destroying, but there was no other option.

"Trying to get a mortgage, especially being self-employed, will be hard for me. I am not money driven, I am success driven.

"My agent is like, 'You turn down everything'," she jokes. "I don't think I could ever do something just for money and sometimes I wish I could because then I would be as rich as people think I am!"

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