Ron Harmer doesn't believe in getting older – or at least not in the stereotypes around ageing.
At 72, Ron may have retired from his career in international logistics but it doesn't mean he has any desire to slow down. With a calendar that includes photo shoots, dance parties and regular workouts, Ron has never been busier.
Here, Ron's life lessons to live by (grab a pen!):
At 72 years of age, after being retired for 14 years, Ron began a new career as a male model. Scouted while walking home from a doctor's appointment, Ron initially thought the agent was joking when she offered to represent him.
"I was looking around asking, 'Is she talking to me?'" Ron laughs. "Then she asked if she could take a couple of photos. So there I was, standing on Oxford Street in my local neighbourhood, posing like Zoolander and hoping that no one I knew walked by!"
After being booked for his very first job, Ron realised he loved his new gig.
"I've always had an interest in fashion and clothes – my mother was a seamstress. When [I became a model] a lot of my friends, particularly my lady friends, said, 'Oh, you're a natural for that!'"
Ron is a big believer in standing up for what you believe in and being true to yourself.
"I'm openly gay and I have never hidden my sexuality," Ron says. "However, I have personally experienced the ugliness of discrimination and hate crimes. On the career front, I was often discriminated against in getting work. Back in the day, the international logistics and freight industry was not known for its diversity."
Coming out in his late 30s while on business in New York, Ron returned to Australia in the 1980s, just before the large outbreak of HIV/AIDS diagnoses.
"I went through that whole wave of HIV/AIDS," Ron recalls. "I stopped counting at 200, the number of people I knew who had passed. It also brought a lot of prejudice out into the community against gay people. I think that probably helped me. Even though I've been quite a resilient, surviving sort of a person, I became quite militant and active in the gay community."
A victim of gay bashings in the 1980s, Ron has experienced discrimination in its most sinister form. However, he has never apologised for being who he is.
"I am me. You can either accept me or reject me. I will do what I want to do and wear what I want to wear. I'm a great believer in what Kurt Cobain once said:
'I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.'
That's who I have always been."
When he's not at casting calls or on location for shoots, Ron's other passions keep him busy and engaged within the community. With his hobbies including salsa dancing and rave parties, Ron isn't letting his age get in the way of anything.
"I dance the salsa with a girlfriend of mine and love going to rave parties but without the drugs," Ron explains. "I also do a bit of photography."
It's Ron's fun energy that made him the perfect fit for Feros Care's Grow Bold campaign. The home and community aged care organisation inspires their clients to 'grow bold, not old' by supporting their ambitions and encouraging them to keep active and engaged.
"Feros Care has this bold positive living, which I think is very important," Ron states. "In doing that, it keeps you more mobile and less dependent on other people."
About 12 months ago, Ron endured a heart attack forcing him to make some drastic changes to his lifestyle and diet.
"I thought I was living reasonably healthy," he says. "But I had to change my diet and had to give up smoking cigarettes. I was doing hydrotherapy for exercise so I was in reasonable shape but I knew I was underweight. I started going to cardio rehab at St. Vincent's Hospital, learned a new diet and started getting into shape. I gained nine to 10 kilos."
While so many are apprehensive about the ageing process, Ron seems to have it mastered. His tips include going vegetarian two to three days a week, avoiding junk food and consuming moderate levels of alcohol.
"It's everything in moderation. To me, it's important because if you look after yourself, you're not going to wind up with as many medical problems."
Despite already having achieved so much, Ron is always setting himself new challenges to conquer. The next item on his incredible bucket list? Catwalk modelling.
"I haven't done much catwalk modelling and I'd like to do that. I wouldn't even want to get paid, it would just be the prestige of it – I know Armani suits me."
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