Djuna Bel Lives Through Actions, Not Words

On loving her body while pregnant, surrounding herself with strong women and what she'd like to teach her son about body image
Djuna Bel Lives Through Actions, Not Words

“I’ve never loved my body as much as being pregnant. I don’t know why pregnancy really agreed with me emotionally. I felt like I was being pumped with Xanax. I’m a stylist, and on set they’d be like ‘We need this green shirt to be a little more emerald and this is moss!!!’ And I’m like, ‘Whhoooo cares? Calm down people.’ Now I’m back to the real world. [Laughs] But I really loved myself pregnant. And as soon as I’d given birth, afterwards, it was like, ‘Oh shit, am I ever gonna go back to what I was?’ It felt like I was in someone else’s body. I’ve heard people say that about being pregnant, but not so much afterwards. Even now, I’m still nursing, and Fox will nurse for a really long time and by the end, my nipples will look like erasers. And when they finally go back to normal I’m like, ‘phew.’ Not that eraser nipples are a bad thing, they’re just not the thing that I was born with. All that said, I still feel like superwoman. It’s exhausting, but especially with breastfeeding, I feel like a superhero. With Fox I get to be like, ‘you’re hungry, you got hurt? I can make you feel better — with my boobs.’ That’s so cool.

Djuna Bel BodyTalk
Djuna wears the Balc and the Bikini in Blush

I’m pretty unapologetic about [breastfeeding in public]. I used to follow this hairstylist, and she basically shamed this woman on Instagram for breastfeeding in an airport. She was like, ‘are you serious? Cover yourself up. Have some dignity.’ I wasn’t pregnant at the time, but I wrote her — I was like, ‘you’re a fucking troll.’ And then afterwards I was like… Whoa, I didn’t mean to be so aggressive. [Laughs] But really, you use your body for so many things. It’s just survival. You know what I mean? Survival is not always elegant. And there’s no way to make it elegant. Sorry, my kid doesn’t want to be hidden from the world when he’s breastfeeding. It’s not like I’m taking the other one out too so I’m putting on a show, it’s literally a means to an end. My kid’s tired, he’s hungry. And if he doesn’t eat — do you want me to starve my baby? Or do you want to sit there and judge me? And if so, what are you getting out of it? And then, think about what my kid is getting out of it. But it’s a really individual choice. Pumping was one of those things for me. I used to pump on set, and after I did it a couple times, it was like, this actually feels really intimate and kind of violating. You’re not just giving your baby life, you’re putting suction cups on your nipples, and I don’t really want someone coming up and talking to me while I’m doing that. I’m really comfortable with my body, but that was one situation where it was like, OK, this doesn’t really feel like a time I want to share with people.

As a mom, I try to keep a positive self image and just feel strong and confident, and set a good example that way. Kids learn by your actions more than anything else. So it’s less about words. I had friends who were told, ‘appreciate every body type!’ but then their moms were constantly on diets. And they were like, ‘I heard one thing but I saw something else. So now I’m addicted to dieting because my mom did it.’ I hope Fox has a positive body image for himself, but also for other people. I never want to hear him say someone’s ‘ugly’ or ‘fat.’ I just want him to have an appreciation for all body types.

I had a friend in high school, her name was Whitney. She was a little bit older than me, but I played varsity basketball and volleyball as a freshman, and she was on the volleyball team. She sort of took me under her wing to make sure nobody gave me a hard time, and then we became best friends. I had a pretty hard home life and at the time, I wasn’t really living at home. I ended up basically just living with Whitney for a while. And I would get out of the shower, and she would rip my towel off of me and make me stand in front of the mirror and say, ‘Don’t I look so good, isn’t my body so sexy, who wouldn’t want this body? These are the things I love about myself.’ At the time I was like, ‘God, why are you doing this to me?’ [Laughs] It was mortifying. But then... it totally changed the way I thought about my body. You know how they say fake it ‘til you make it? It’s a real thing — I had zero confidence, and she really changed my life. I think I didn’t notice until like a year or two later, and all of a sudden I was feeling better about myself.

Djuna Bel BodyTalk
Djuna wears the Balc and the Bikini in Blush

I started as a model, and that certainly screws with your body image. I’d always been super skinny, and when I was younger I was made fun of for it. When I came out to New York and started modeling, I was seventeen and really skinny, and then I turned eighteen and my hips started getting bigger, and people are constantly scrutinizing you when you’re going to castings. And you’re like, I have ears, I can hear you. That was always kind of hard. I’m glad I quit before it really took its toll. I was about nineteen when I stopped. I’d met stylists by that time and I’d ask if they needed help. They’d be like, ‘we’ll give you $100 to go return all this stuff.’ I was like $100! You got it.’ At this point I’ve been on a lot of different sides of the [fashion] industry. My experiences as a model really helped me [as a stylist]. Having had that sensitivity, I’m more aware of what I say about women’s bodies. I also feel like the fashion industry is way more accepting of different bodies now. It used to be about fitting into a sample. Now it’s like, ‘who’s an interesting person?’ You can be all types of a woman, and you can still get recognized and book big fashion brands. There’s a movement, and that’s cool. People want to reach a larger demographic. It’s not just about being aspirational to one type of person. People want to be conveyed and recognized. They want to see somebody that looks like an aspirational version of themselves.

You know, I was always someone who hung out with a lot of guys, had a lot of guy friends, and I came to a point where I was like oh wait, all those guys are waiting for me not to be in my relationship anymore. They’d probably sleep with me if I was like, fighting with my boyfriend. Maybe they’re not my best friends, they’re just dudes that I’m friendly with that just want to sleep with me. And once I realized that, I was like ...ohhhhh. Maybe I’m not a ‘dudes girl.’ Maybe I need some great empowered female friends. And now it’s like, my friends are killing it. I love being in the company of strong, powerful women who are teaching me things. It’s awesome. I think it is just pure support. It just feels naturally like we want to support each other. Positive reinforcement, but beyond just being like, yeah girl, great job! It’s about being honest and fully engaged.”

Tags: bodytalk , fertility & motherhood

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