Julie is 35 years old, and is a secretary in a college. Passionate about photography, before moving to the photographer side, Julie was a model for many years. She is one of our clients selected to participate in our Elia shoot. In this article, Julie talks about her relationship with her cycle, her way of living her period and about self-acceptance.
Why did you decide to participate in an Elia shoot?
"I'm participating in the Elia shoot today because it's already a challenge for me. After having gained a lot of weight following a back operation, I was not very comfortable in my body and there it is the occasion to be able to accept me a little more. It's one more step towards accepting myself. And then the atmosphere is very nice, it's a family team. It's great fun, it's also an opportunity to have a little bit of fun.
How did you experience motherhood and how do you live it today?
"I had my first child at 22, I was young and not psychologically ready. I had a child for the wrong reasons, it was more selfish, I wanted to feel less alone. It was a little bit complicated, it was a long way. I was not ready, I grew up at the same time as my son. It's true that it was quite different with my third, whom I had at 28. I was much more ready, I lived motherhood much more serenely, I made my own choices, I listened less to others, I listened more to myself. It was much easier. It only takes 5-6 years for motherhood to be experienced in a different way. It's true that it wasn't easy at first."
Do you think there are taboos around motherhood?
"I think there are taboos around motherhood, which are varied. For me, there is something that has marked me: we are not necessarily ready to be mothers and there are really difficult moments, and I feel that I have not had the right to say it. Because indeed there are people who have difficulties to have children, and it is true that it is dramatic. But we have the right to say that at times it's not easy, not that we regret it but that we are really in difficulty, sometimes we would like to leave everything, even if we always want to come back. It's not easy to be able to say "I'm cracking up, I can't do it, I wasn't ready to be a mom".
Do you have any books, podcasts, or people to follow that you recommend for information on this subject?
"So personally I'm not very podcast, not very books etc. I learned about being a mom through a great forum network, it was the generation where forums were very active. We created a network of moms, there must have been a hundred of us at the time, and some of us are still following each other 14 years later. It was really a great support for the different stages of motherhood: as much for the pregnancy, the delivery, but also for the education of the children. It really made me grow, it taught me a lot of things about myself, it was really very rich and we continue to exchange even now. What was great about participating in moms' forums was that we followed each other month by month, they were forums specialized in the months of birth. We followed each other step by step, at the same time of our lives, we lived the same things, at the same time. It was really rich, we could answer questions in the moment T, it was a gold mine of information because we were all facing the same things at the same time."
Your body has gone through some major changes following a back surgery, can you tell us about that?
"Two years ago, I started to have back pain, I have always had back problems since I was a teenager but I had a pain stronger than the others, I told my husband "don't worry in 3 days it's gone" as usual and then in fact it's been more than 2 years now, I had an operation for a herniated disc when I had three of them, one was removed, it relieved me partially. But I have the back of a 75 year old grandmother, I have a back that has aged twice as fast as me. So I'm still in a bit of trouble, I still have pain every day, it's become a handicap. Which prevents me from moving quite a bit, which makes my body change."
Did your body experience any changes as a result of your pregnancies?
"During my pregnancies I lost more weight than I gained. After my pregnancies, I had a pretty harmonious body in my opinion. A body that I liked quite a bit. I gained about ten kilos in three months because I couldn't move anymore because of my back problems, I was bedridden, I couldn't do much. To my great despair. It made me change physically very quickly. I had a very, very hard time with it. For months and months, I was very self-conscious. And then with time, I try to tame this body, to learn to live with this new body by saying to myself that anyway I can't really change it radically. I have the body I have, and it doesn't prevent me from being pretty, sexy, from feeling good about myself. It's all in my head actually, because in the end other people tell me that I'm fine like this. It's really about reeducating the brain more than the body."
Do you have any books, podcasts, people to follow that you recommend to learn to accept yourself?
"So always the same I'm not very book, podcast etc, however I am very Instagram. And instead of following people who push us to go towards perfect bodies, that's in the current criteria, I tend to follow people like Celeste Barber who uses irony and who makes really nice videos, which allows to show that we are very well as we are and that we can assume, that we can laugh about it. It's people like that that I like to follow."
Going back to the topic of menstruation, how do you live with your cycle?
"My history with my cycle has been a little complicated in recent years, because after my pregnancies I was on the hormonal IUD, I had the great joy of not having my period anymore. I preferred to stop taking hormones, especially when I gained weight, and I thought that this could also be a factor. I switched to the copper IUD. I had the great joy of having my period return. The first question was the contraceptionmenstrual panties
What do you think about menstrual panties Elia?
"My mantra since I was a teenager started from a joke with my father, it was "yourself", that I wrote everywhere on the walls, I was tagging when I was 11 years old, I was a little bit rebellious. I wrote that everywhere for years, it was also part of my pseudonyms on the forums, I had little letters to say "soi toi-même". And actually I realize that I never applied it until a couple of years ago. I finally managed to really become myself. It's a liberation. In fact, I realize that no matter who you are, what you do, people will always have something to say about it, so you might as well do the things you really like. You might as well be really yourself and then you feel better and other people won't change no matter what."
If you had to sum up your portrait or your struggle in one word?
"If I had to sum up my portrait in one word, I think it would be perseverance."