WHEN I WAS… 16: Jo Wood on the year she started modelling

This week: beauty entrepreneur Jo Wood on the year she started modelling.

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One to watch

This photo was taken when I became The Sun’s Face of 1972. It was a big deal and I went on tv. I remember being asked what was on trend and saying, ‘the natural look.’ Whatever that means! I was over the moon to wear this biba dress. I still collect Biba from vintage shops.

My role model

I was desperate to be like Twiggy. My mum and dad asked a photographer called Robert Hallmann to take some test shots of me that I could show to an agent. This was one of them, taken near Basildon, Essex, where I grew up. I love that I’m here with a little squirrel.

I wasn’t shy

I began modelling in the summer after leaving school and was voted the Face of 1972 just before christmas. I never felt overwhelmed by the attention. I jumped at the chance to wear bikinis and a fur coat without a bra.

Dad’s advice

When I told my dad [pictured] I wanted to be a model, he said, ‘model is another word for prostitute!’ but when I became one he was proud of me. He was obsessed with Lambrettas and asked me to pose on one. I love the hotpants I’m wearing – they’re in again now!

I started young

I began going into London aged 14 to do a modelling course. Looking back, it was quite brave. I wouldn’t have let my daughter do it but my mum had three younger children to look after, so she couldn’t take me.

A taste of things to come

This was taken in Southend, Essex. As a model I was going out to restaurants, clubs and parties – it got me used to the life that I’ve ended up living.

Robert Hallmann

Finding my own style

I look a bit like Twiggy in this fashion shoot for the Daily Mirror, but the more I worked the more I developed my own identity and stopped wanting to ‘be’ her.

Jo is founder of Jo Wood Organics and an ambassador for Rainforest charity Cool Earth. Buy Vivienne Westwood’s limited-edition Save the Rainforest T-shirt, £23, at coolearth.org