Refusing to hide her long grey hair behind a layer of dye, Yazemeenah Rossi has been the modern, confident, and graceful star of her modeling campaigns.
The model and photographer, who is turning 64 in December, began her career in front of the camera when she was 30. “I started my modeling career in France at age 30, which is normally age of retirement for modeling,” Yazemeenah said. While most careers end at that age, she began hers. And she’s been unstoppable ever since.
It’s not just her age that sets her apart, but her unshakable self-acceptance where she proudly portrays herself just the way she is. “I’ve had fights with agents, I didn’t want to dye my hair, it went white quite young. It started the first one around ten to 12 and at 20 I was pepper and salt, it was very beautiful…” the grandmother told Daily Mail Online. “I always thought it was a gift, I thought why dye this, I’m always someone who likes to be simple.”
What would even frustrate Yazemeenah was seeing her photos retouched to the point where she couldn’t recognize herself. “I don’t like to retouch my pictures,” she added. “With iPhone it’s very easy but it amazes me to see how many apps there are on the iPhone to retouch, it blows my mind, this is not in my world.”
For her, modeling isn’t a regular job. It brings out the energy in her that others may crave for but wouldn’t dare to take the risk. “I will model until the end of my life. But it’s not about modeling, it’s about witnessing, witnessing beauty, energy makes us alive…” she said. “Every morning I wake up, I have no agenda, I’m happy, even shooting, it’s a game for me, it’s playing for me. It’s not about me, my ego was satisfied a long long time ago. It’s [about] enjoying every day, more and more. It’s like my heart is going to explode every morning.”
However, before her career fell into place, life was difficult for Yazemeenah, who’s had an estranged relationship with her parents, got pregnant when she was 16, and got married before the birth of her child. “For me [it felt like] I was in jail. My life was finished,” she recalled about her marriage. But by 28, she decided it was time to put her priorities first. She said, “I couldn’t stay with a man I didn’t love just to pay my bills. So I divorced. Work came. When you make the right choice, the universe brings.”
Her big break came along at the age of 45, according to Daily Star Online, and since then, she hasn’t looked back. Over the years, she’s worked with brands like Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, J. Crew and Bobbi Brown. When she spoke to The Guardian, she was able to say, “Every day is a blessing. I divorced twice, I’m single, I couldn’t imagine 10 years ago I’d be so fulfilled.”
Defying all the “rules” of modeling, she says, “It’s not all about being 20 and 5’10”. We’re bored of that. We are all different ages and sizes and that’s the beauty of it. We’re real women.” Today, whenever she stands in front of the camera, she hopes to show herself in her truest self, saying, “…I’ve never wanted to compromise me, who I am, and now I have clients who are happy with that.”
When she talked about the secrets that keep her skin looking radiant, she said, “My basics are in the kitchen cabinet… I come from a very simple background where we used olive oil to cook with. Olive oil was used on our hair and skin – nothing else.”
She also added, “If we put things on the surface of the skin, it becomes ‘lazy’ in a way and doesn’t work to protect itself anymore.”
Yazemeenah has one avocado every day and sticks to fresh, organic food, comprised of “mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts and some good-quality fish and meats.” She stays away from anything that’s frozen, processed, or made in a microwave.
But what might be her greatest advice to stay ageless is having “a healthy spirit and a curious mind.”