I was driving to work last November when I heard on the radio that Cameron Diaz was looking for ‘real’ women to take a selfie for the cover of her The Longevity Book, which is about ageing gracefully.
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I thought, ‘Why not give it a go?’ So I took a selfie and sent it to the US. I actually forgot all about it until many months later when the publishers emailed to say that I was one of 175 women around the world whose selfie made it onto the cover of the book!
It’s a great honour to be picked – I’ve had a number of struggles in my life and I haven’t always felt beautiful or good about myself.
My older sister Christine and I were born in Masterton but were adopted out when I was four months old as our biological parents couldn’t care for us. We grew up on a farm in the Wairarapa with my adopted parents, who were amazing. They really saved me and I don’t think I would be the person I am today without them.
I had the first of my four kids when I was 19. My son Jamyn is now 24 and has two of his own children, one-year-old Cyprus and Korbyn (4) who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. I spend a lot of time fundraising to help with Korbyn’s medical expenses and to cover the cost of getting him down from New Plymouth, where we live, to Wellington to get fitted for a walking frame.
My daughter Stevie (19) has a one-year-old son, Eli, while my daughter Jaydine is 20 and lives in Wellington. She’s currently saving to study film. My youngest daughter Anahera was stillborn – she would have been 18 on Anzac Day.
My life is pretty busy working as a receptionist and spending time with my grandchildren. I’m also doing a course in make-up artistry and hairstyling, and I volunteered for the New Plymouth Ambulance Service for four years, which I loved.
But I’ve long struggled with crippling premenstrual tension and was in a really bad place for a long time. I was so down, I would just cry and cry. Finally, I went to my doctor who put me on anti-depressants, which definitely help. Last year,I was also diagnosed with an auto-immune condition which left me really down. I lost a lot of confidence and felt negative about my situation, and I didn’t like the way I looked.
But I refused to let these things take over my life. That’s why I made myself send in the selfie to Cameron Diaz. After having hair down to my waist for 20 years, I finally got it chopped off. For the first time in a long time, I felt awesome. The selfie is the first photo I had taken with my new shorter hair.
Getting onto the cover of the book has made me want to help other women. The message I want to send to women everywhere is that if I can do it, then so can they! I’ve survived and I’m still surviving. I want all women out there to know that even though they might not believe it, they are beautiful and should feel beautiful every day.
I know sometimes it is hard, but training yourself to think positively is possible.
At some point, I want to go off the anti-depressants and learn to control my illness with therapy instead. I’m so fortunate to have the love and support of my husband Mike, my children and my grandchildren.
My ultimate goal is to travel as much as possible. So far, I’ve been to Australia, the US and Samoa but I want to explore the many beautiful places out there. Top of my bucket list is Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia and Japan. Who knows, maybe one day I might even get to meet Cameron Diaz!
For now, though, I’m just happy to have made it into her book and I’m thrilled to have received my very own autographed copy.”
As told to Sharon Stephenson
Watch: Cameron Diaz on making the most of her 40s