Raised mostly by her grandparents, who lived the lives of simple farmers and hunters in Corsica, Rossi learned how to make do at an early age. Pieces of fabric served as her dolls and bath times took place at a nearby creek.
“When I was a child, my parents said I was stubborn because I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t want,” she says. “I’ve always been like that. I’ve always been in touch with my intuition.”
She met a police officer when she was a teenager and fell in love. When she was 17, her son was born. Three years later, her daughter. In that period, she’d moved the family to Paris. There was no definitive plan on how to get work, much less thrive in the French capital. But Rossi has always trusted closely in putting intentions out into the universe and waiting for it to return them in kind.
The first time this happened was when she applied for government benefits after her daughter was born and then forgot about it. A massive bill came which left the young couple panicking. Almost on the same day, the check from the government came as well.
“This gave me the confidence that it would always happen like that,” she says. “Gratitude is very important; to appreciate what is given. For that you have to have desire. The desire is the engine that is going to create the movement of life.”
For the next 12 years she cared for the children before starting to work as a fit model. The job was difficult — long days of being fitted for clothes while standing in high heels — but it gave her an entrée into the world of modeling. She booked gigs and continued to create art on the side, supplementing her income further by renovating and designing the apartments of friends.
In her early 40s, her hair was already getting a good amount of salt in it. The gigs in Paris started drying up, even as interest from American clients grew. Sensing a market, she moved to New York in 1999 and landed at Ford Modeling Agency.
Eight years later, needing a break from the winter, she went to LA. She moved to Malibu three months after that.
“I wanted to have a good quality of life. I wanted to enjoy nature, and I didn’t want to be in a city anymore,” she says. “And I worked less. It was 2007 when I moved to Malibu [right before the crash], and it has been not easy. But I’m here, I’m alive, and everything is fine!”
She’s right about the arc of her traditional modeling career. But if LA does anything well it’s reinvention. Her daughter told her to get on Instagram and she began posting pics of the types of things you and I post — only you and I don’t have luxuriant white hair, healthy, olive-oil rubbed skin, or look mesmerizing in a swimsuit.
Clickbait site BoredPanda picked up on her feed and wrote a piece, publishing it on September 15, 2015. “I looked at my Instagram and it was like Las Vegas with the slot machine,” she says. “I was getting followers nonstop. It was getting crazy. I had no idea why.”
Her 166,000 followers (and growing) have allowed her to travel internationally to gigs and opened her up to new experiences like public speaking. The reactions she gets from people as young as 13 on her positive image of aging are heartwarming. But her strong artistic personality has also struggled to figure out the monetization aspect of it.
“For me, it’s beautiful, and I love to create because it makes me happy,” she says. “And maybe I think it can make some people happy too. I never did these things in a way to think I could make money from it.”
But if this is a challenge at the moment, it’s also an opportunity. Rossi plans on taking it on the way she does, well, aging in general.
“I see around me people aging, and aging badly, like my mother. She’s still there mentally but she's a couch potato,” she says. “I don’t have a couch and I don’t have a TV, so it helps. And every day I roll on my mat and I stand up before I do my yoga, and I plan on doing that for the rest of my life. I don’t have chairs, so several times a day I’m obliged to sit down and stand up and … love it! There’s no reason I can’t do it.”