We chatted to Julia about all things body image, and how being a mother has changed her perspective…
“Motherhood has changed me as a person. It’s made me patient, but also inspired me to improve myself, to keep learning and to stay as fit as possible – because I have to.
“When I was 40 I did a charity photo shoot and I had to stag-leap across the studio. I had nude undies on but no bra, and the photographer wanted to capture me mid-air – so you can imagine the strategic nightmare. It was a Get Your Kit Off shoot for Cancer Research UK with Bruno from Strictly and some other female celebs. I was holding my boobs and stag-leaping, desperate for my nips not to show.
“A mate of mine was on nipple watch – shouting out, ‘nips, nipple,’ like some sort of game show. The photograph was amazing in the end though, and I was really chuffed it was a bumper year for the charity.
“As women we should be proud of our bums, folds and wrinkly bits – they’re a part of who we are. My body has changed immeasurably since I’ve had children. I’ve got saggy bits now that I didn’t have before. My next milestone birthday is going to be 50, but I’m celebrating getting to this age rather than complaining about the signs of it. If someone tells me they want to take a picture of me in the bath… I’ll review that when I’m 50.
“I don’t want to go under the knife. I’ve undergone IVF and been through more general anaesthetics than you could want to put yourself under. For me, the risk of things going wrong with cosmetic surgery far outweighs the benefits. I’d love to have big, straight, white teeth – I’ve got slightly wonky ones that fold over at the front – but there’s the risk of ending up with horse teeth, and I don’t want to have to have all my teeth replaced every five to 10 years.
“The last reality show I said ‘no’ to was I’m a Celebrity. I just don’t want to put myself or my family under that sort of scrutiny. It’s a big chunk of time out of your life, and I wouldn’t want to leave my children. I don’t think of myself as a celebrity. Hunted is more up my street. They asked me to do it, but I couldn’t at the time. But it’s brilliant, it just looks very hard – I don’t know how long I’d last.
“My walking series had been so successful and the audience had responded so warmly, that ITV thought it would be a really nice idea to do Britain’s Favourite 100 Walks. With walking being the nation’s favourite pastime and hobby, why not discover the country’s most-loved walks? Everyone has a favourite place, walk or outdoor experience. Using the help of the Ramblers association, Ordnance Survey and the National Trust, a survey was put out and 8,000 people said what their favourite walks were and why. That’s how this top 100 has been compiled.
‘I started walking with my dad when I was a little girl. He’s the one that got me into walking and into the outdoors. I was at school in Sheffield and we grew up as a family in both Rutland and Sheffield, on the doorstep of the Peak District. So it has a real place in my heart because of that, and I’m glad to say it’s made it into the top half – which is as I would expect, because it’s absolutely gorgeous countryside. There are lots of my favourite walks thrown in there – but obviously we have to be incredibly secretive about the run-down itself.’
Britain’s Favourite 100 Walks will air on 30 January on ITV.