2021 Bold Beautiful Perfect: Julia
“We all have it within ourselves to know we are beautiful in our own way. Look for the beauty through your internal eyes and not your physical eyes.”
Julia, tell us your story of discovering your inner beauty.
I am a 51-year-old grandmother of 5 (ages 15, 13, 12, 11, and 7) and a mother of 2 (32-year-old twins, one boy and one girl). I am originally from Arkansas, but I’ve been living in Louisiana for the past 9 years.
As a young person, I was always overweight and had terrible self-esteem. I was often made fun of and ridiculed. It made me sad and gave me severe depression. I had a lot to overcome.
I met a wonderful guy when I was 18 and we were married after dating for only 60 days! We have been married now for 33 years. He has been my rock and my foundation in life. He has helped me to realize who I am and how wonderful life can be. Even 33 years later, he tells me daily how beautiful I am. He never lets a day pass without telling me how much he loves me, many times a day.
In our early years of marriage, I was still dealing with the depression. I was smoking a pack-and-a-half of cigarettes a day and not taking care of myself. I let my weight explode. It wasn’t until reaching nearly 350 pounds that I realized I needed to take better care of myself and love the person I was.
Once I realized I could love myself, I set off on a mission to do it, and it worked. I was able to change my self outlook, but changing my unhealthy habits was more difficult. I struggled with cigarettes, soda, and food for years to come.
I kept on going on with life and raising my kids. We invited many children into our home, from foster children (some with special needs) to locals who needed a home (some for years), even foreign exchange students. I performed as the hospice care provider for my brother and mother in their times of need as well. I was always taking care of others. Finally, I realized that I needed others to love me like I loved me – and that meant taking care of myself and loving myself with my whole being, as much as I did for others. It is a sad but true fact that the world does not treat obese people the way they treat “regular” sized people.
Through a serious diet and exercise regimen which included giving up smoking and sodas in addition to eating healthy, I lost 140 lbs! However, yoyo dieting was the norm for me, so I didn’t think I could keep the weight off, even though it was the most I’d lost in a very long time. I went to a bariatric doctor and began the grueling process to get approved for a gastric bypass. Eventually I had the surgery and lost the rest of the weight. All said and done, I was down 207 lbs. from my highest weight. I was being treated better by the world, enjoying life, and feeling great physically and emotionally. I am proud to say that I have maintained the weight loss for over 12 ½ years.
All of this is external, but it was also internal in the way that it affected me. You must have the mental acceptance and love for yourself in your heart and soul. My inner beauty stems from my love of taking care of others first. I try to be a good person every day and in everything I do. I volunteer for several good causes that helps others, and I do what I can to make the world a better place.
Each of us can find our inner beauty. Look inside and smile at yourself. Your heart and love is there – LET IT SHINE THROUGH. We all have it within ourselves to know we are beautiful in our own way. Your inner beauty is what you see and feel inside of your heart. Look for the beauty through your internal eyes and not your physical eyes. It took me too long and too many wrong paths before I figured that out. I am there now, and living a wonderful, full and happy life, and so can you.
How did it feel to be selected?
Being selected for the Bold Beautiful Perfect project made me want to put myself out there to encourage others to discover their own inner beauty. We are all beautiful!!! Don’t let anyone tell you differently. You can change yourself in as many ways as you want on the outside, but it is what you are harboring on the inside that makes you who you are. Be beautiful from the inside out!
Tell us about your experience with the photo shoot.
The photo shoot was a wonderful experience for me. At 51 years old, this was the first time in my life I have ever had professional makeup done – not even to a makeup counter or anything! It was great. Kasper did an amazing job, KUDOS!
Prior to this, I had only had one photo shoot done ever (it with my husband), and it was nothing like the experience I had with Brandi. Brandi was sweet, engaging, and made me feel comfortable with what we were doing. I really enjoyed my time with her, and we even sat and visited after it was over and just had a peaceful and enjoyable conversation. It was a good day. ❤
Let your inner beauty shine!
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International Award-Winning Portrait Photographer
Brandi Stage is an international award-winning portrait photographer based in Bay St. Louis, MS. She creates an exceptional magazine-style photo shoot and timeless heirloom portraits for women, men, children and pets in her studio or on location.