Author and model Roz Purcell sits down with Independent.ie to talk about growing body confidence, her relationship and influencing with integrity
Roz Purcell has become what is known as a 'multi-hyphen' force to be reckoned with in the Irish industry.
Model, blogger, author, hike organiser and Instagram star are just some of the titles you could use when describing the former Miss Universe Ireland. With two books under her belt and over a quarter of a million followers on social media, she is a familiar name across age groups and genders. In recent years, she's evolved from a well-known beauty queen to an all-natural, organic foodie who prides herself on being environmentally aware without being preachy. It's that down-to-earth image that has informed much of her success.
The 28-year-old regularly shares her daily routine online, which begins from a breakfast (usually a recipe from her Natural Born Feeder collection), gym sessions or hiking up the Wicklow Mountains. Even last week, dosed with a chest infection, Roz was sharing her life with her followers right until she went to sleep.
Her sister Rachel, an integral part to her digital team, has become something of a celebrity herself and the two even shared a magazine cover last year, while her boyfriend of three years, music promoter Zach Desmond is more of a rarity, a nod to the balance which she enforces when it comes to harmonising work and a private life.
“I don’t feel like there's a pressure to post. Even when I was out sick, I was just so bored at home," she tells Independent.ie Style. "With Zach I guess, he’s very private. He has a job that’s very much in the industry and he kind of keeps out of it. He doesn’t mind going on my stories, sometimes he’d be like ‘delete that’ and I’m like that too. I guess I respect that. I put him on my Instagram very irregularly and when I do it’s usually very lovey-dovey, so he doesn’t mind.
“My sister (Rachel) I guess, she’s very open online as well. It’s one of those things I don’t have to ask her permission for,” she laughs. “I have another sister who’s very private, she’s not on any social media and whenever I put something up of her I’ll always ask her. I’m so used to sharing my life that sometimes you have to remember that other people are okay with it as well.”
Roz 2.0 is making it her mission to encourage responsible influencing on Instagram: after the positive feedback and international headlines she received for posting a picture of her stretch marks on a holiday trip to Bali in December, she is on a mission to normalise what we often airbrush or filter out of our feeds, similar to Chrissy Teigen and Jameela Jamil, both of whom have made wildly successful careers from their 'normal' approach to Instagram.
“When I posted it, I was just lying around in a bikini and just noticed the stretch markets. I was just thinking, 'I’m so lucky I’m at the stage now where I can walk around confidently'. Before I wouldn’t have been able to pass my friends at a pool because I would’ve thought, 'Oh my God they’re looking at my stretch marks and my cellulite," she told us at the launch of Revive Active, her latest brand ambassadorial role.
“I’m so lucky I’m at that age where I can totally accept myself, I don’t worry about what other people think. When people told me their stretch mark stories it opened a huge conversation. And I’ve noticed a lot of other influencers now sharing their stories, but it should be completely normalised. And why it hasn’t been before is because it’s not seen in the media, it’s not seen in society as something you should show and that just needs to change.”
Despite the floods of praise she received for being an “honest influencer”, the term is not something that appeals to her, mainly because of the negative connotations associated with the word. She explains that while she does collaborate with brands for sponsored posts, she sat down with her manager at the beginning to make a list of all the brands she genuinely loves and used.
“It’s really weird because people tell me ‘oh you’re an influencer’ but I’ve always been online. I started in the industry as a model and it progressed. I never think of myself as an influencer because then I’m assuming that everyone who follows me is influenced by every single thing I do," she explained.
“Everyone who follows me has their own mind, I just share my life and that’s how I look at it. Sometimes I’ll look at people I know and think- you don’t use that. "I sat down with my manager and said, ''This is my dream list. If any of these come to me, I want to work with them. And let’s start going to them and telling them I use their products, and that’s how we’ve done it'. It’s one of those things that I realised, if people are going to spend their money from something they’ve seen me use, it better be something I’m willing to spend my money on.”
While the influencer title might stay off her ‘multi-hyphen’ list, she is considering adding student to her ever-growing CV. She left UCD after two years when she won the Miss Universe Ireland title to pursue modelling full-time, but is interested in going back to complete her studies - something her mother Cecily, a primary school principal, has always encouraged.
“If there’s anything I would like to add to that list - I would love to go back to college and study ethics, social and environmental ethics," she said. "So maybe a title along those lines, but it’s having the time to find that. I would love to launch my own food products, obviously that would be a huge thing as well. Food entrepreneur would be another one.
“At the time mum said, 'Look, this might be the only opportunity you have to go live in a different country, and you can come back and finish it'. I understand now that loads of kids when you ask them what they want to be they say ‘I don’t want to go to college, I want to be a YouTuber, a blogger’ - and that’s really great that people are getting into showcasing their lives.
“But also, you can’t rely on that because media is very fickle, especially social media, we don’t know when platforms are going to all of a sudden just disappear. You always need to have some sort of asset behind you," she added.
“It’s all well and good to say you want to become a blogger or influencer, but for what? You want to get into foo. Okay, well why don’t you try to be a really good food author or recipe developer. If you want to become a really good fashion blogger, why don’t you go do fashion or get really into styling? Educate yourself on it so if your social media platform dies, you’ve still earned a skill.”
As for the future, outside the photoshoots, brand collaborations, sharing recipes and organising her ‘Hike Life’ events, top of her list is more plans to travel with her boyfriend this year.
“I’m going to Tokyo with Zach. We have a few trips planned. I went through a period where I got very settled at home, and he just loves travelling," she said. "I think one of the best things about going out with him is that he just really inspired me to get back travelling."
Roz is a brand ambassador for Revive Active, an Irish supplement