Julie Bourassa is, by all accounts, a very very lovely person. Perhaps her day job has something to do with this. She teaches children with special needs, and it seems to me that being a lovely person and doing that job seem to go hand in hand. I've met more than a few special needs teachers in my life - I'm in the education business - and without exception all of them (and they were all women, incidentally) clearly loved what they did and also had what I can only describe as an 'angelic' aura about them. They sort of radiated feelings of contentment and goodness.
You would think, then, that Julie deserved better than this: Whether at the gym, grocery, stores or other public places, people often look down on me, especially in summer when I wear tank tops or short sleeves. When my back is turned, I often hear whispers regarding my physical appearance.
Unfortunately, I imagine this is not an untypical experience for a female bodybuilder, particularly one as spectacularly built as Julie (and let's face it, there aren't many of those). Her physical strength, the physical strength she shares with her sisters of iron, is obvious to all. She wears it like a suit of armour. But less obvious is her emotional strength, her strength of character, again, a strength she shares with all other muscular women who are looked upon as freaks by the majority, but who nevertheless continue to wear their beautiful bodies with pride.
I used to be disturbed by such inappropriate comments. Now I have learned to ignore them and become indifferent to comments that can be hurtful. I learned to close my eyes and convince myself that I practise bodybuilding for me and other people's opinions with regard to my choices should not affect my passion for this sport.
There is the support of family and friends to fall back on as well. And according to Julie, this is crucial. My mother used to ask why I wanted to suffer so much for this discipline. When she realized it was a passion and these little sacrifices helped me to grow and develop, she supported me. My friends are big fans. They help me get through difficult times and to refocus on diet and preparation. I am very fortunate to have people who support me and I can count on in difficult times. There is also the support of the exclusive sisterhood. And then there are the fans. [Thank you] to all my fans for their unconditional support and motivation. Helping me to move forward and to improve my physical condition year after year as a bodybuilder.
As a bodybuilder.
It's comforting to hear that at a time when it seems barely a week goes by without hearing that yet another top female bodybuilder has decided to downsize and compete in the physique division. Comforting to know Julie (and it this point I am crossing my fingers, rubbing my lucky coin and knocking on wood) won't be joining them. Comforting to know, as Julie hits another serene most muscular and her traps pop up to her ears, that there are women out there who will be staying big.
Julie says that bodybuilding can be compared to shaping a piece of coal into a proper diamond. I like the analogy. Diamonds are hard and beautiful, adjectives that describe female bodybuilders well. And diamonds are, as it seems proper female bodybuilders are increasingly becoming, rare. But on top of that, in the UK, a 'diamond' is also a term used to refer to a 'rare' person. The best and most valuable kind of person.
A person like Julie, perhaps.