Sunday, 11 September 2016

Baring it all

This picture, along with an article, was published in last week's issue of The Citizen. I had been interviewed for the article the week before, but didn't know a picture would also be appearing. So when it came in the mailbox, it was a surprize and I cried. Ella exclaimed how much she love it, thought is was a great picture - and was so confued by my tears. Theo the same. I have spent the last few days thinking about my reaction.

First, the background.

In the spring I was approached by Marcie (the self proclaimed pin-up girl of Huron County) who came out to the farm to talk about a project she was working on. It was a fundraiser for the Huron County Women's Shelter and it was going to be a calendar. Her desire was to use the pin-up style (1920's to 1960's) as a theme and the models would be "Inspiring Women of Huron County". She wanted to know if I was interested in being a part of it. I agreed, thinking that it would be another way I could get my story and the #sharetheroad message out there. We talked about what kind of scene I would like, and how we could make it pin-up. We talked about how I filled my days - with therapy - and swimming became our focus.

I ordered a pin-up style bathing suit (my first amazon purchase ever) and asked Vanessa if we could use her pool. Marcie arranged for hair and makeup and the date for the photographer. I have never been dolled up like that before, nor have I had a professional take my pictures. Marcie had Big Band music to set the mood and we planned the shots starting with me in my wheelchair and then we worked our way into the pool. After a while, I got "into it" and had a lot of fun.

I have seen the hundreds of pictures taken that day, and I picked a few that I liked best. I didn't get to choose the fav for the calendar. So when I opened the paper and saw that picture - I was surprised. All the publicity shots had just been a head shot. Seeing all of me - my whole body - I was taken aback. My body is different than it used to be. My lack of abdominal muscles changes my shape immensely and I have not decided yet that I like it yet. My legs have very little muscle left in them, leaving them quite thin. So that full body shot reminded me of all this. I don't love this body. Yet here it is in the newspaper for all to see. Somehow that is different, being printed, then being on facebook. Printed seems more permanent (but we all know that is not true).

You are all thinking "she agreed to be in a calendar!" Yes, I knew I would be printed, but seeing it in real life was a shock. It also had to do, I think, with my wheelchair being in this picture. Marcie and I had talked about a shot like this way back at our first meeting. I wanted to include my chair in the pictures because it is a part of me now, I didn't want to hide it.

I guess that was the picture I was hoping for but, at the same time, not ready for. I'm still not ready to accept that new me.

In the end they didn't choose this picture for the calendar. Instead it is a different one altogether. It is just my face and upper body and there is no wheelchair in the background. It's a beautiful picture inspired by this:

If you want to see it, you'll have to get a calendar! I am the April Pin-Up girl - I'll come around to the idea soon.

Calendars can be purchased for $25 from the Maker's Market in Goderich or from Part II Bistro in Blyth. All proceeds go to the Huron County Women's Shelter. If you would like one, and are not in the area, let me know ( and I will get one to you somehow.


  1. Your courage in writing so truthfully and eloquently continues to inspire me. You are a beautiful woman, Julie. I think I understand when you describe your tears upon seeing these stunning, lovely photos. Grief and loss are sneaky things. Sending love.

  2. Beautifully written! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It occurred to me that most women would have a really hard time with a photo of them in their swimsuit being published!! I can't even imagine how much more that would be magnified when it's a body you hardly recognize. Your bravery and honesty inspires countless women!! Thank you.