Love for the Mama chats to Louise Boyce

Women who become mothers have all different types of career backgrounds and how they juggle their new role as a mother and their existing jobs or careers is something to be admired. Some women dislike the job they are in but some are very lucky to love it and if it doesn't feel like work, well then isn't that a blessing? 

When I approached Louise Boyce to do an interview for the blog, I was over the moon because she was coming from a career that is not the norm and has very demanding pressures on everything you do. Louise has been a model for 20 years, she has seen the highs and the lows of this industry and she has survived. She is looked after by Milk Management and she is an absolute beauty and she is a breath of fresh air. Louise tells us how she finds being a mother in this environment, what she loves about it and she shows us having curves is something to be desired. 

1. How did you get into the modelling industry?

It all goes back to my childhood – I must have been about 8 years old.  One morning over breakfast I was looking at the back of the packet of cereal, when I pointed out to my mum that the girl on the back of the box was asleep, but smiling.  I didn’t think people could smile in their sleep.  My mum pointed out that she wasn’t really asleep - she was a model pretending to sleep.  ‘What’s a model?’ I asked.  This was the day I realised I wanted to be a model when I grew up.

When I was 14, my mum’s friend, Janet came over for a cuppa.  She used to model back in the 60’s and mentioned that I should talk to a couple of agencies, as I was the right height, frame and the perfect age to start modelling.  We made an appointment with one of the biggest agency in London who represented the biggest names in the business – the models I looked up to and found so inspiring.

One day during the school summer holidays in 1994, mum and I jumped on the 211 bus and went to the Kings Road to meet with the agency.  I was full of mixed emotions – excited, terrified, nervous, optimistic, pessimistic.

When we arrived, the agent I was meant to be seeing, James wasn’t there.  All my adrenaline crashed and I felt so disheartened and foolish.  Why would they wait around to see me??  Mum and I dragged our feet to the nearest coffee shop for a pep talk and regroup.

There was another agency around the corner – so mum, full of positivity decided it was a good idea to see them instead.  So I agreed and we walked the small distance to meet with them.

We were seen immediately, which I was delighted with – my hopes and dreams suddenly all flashing back to me.    After what felt like a very long wait, I was told by an agent that I lacked model material and that I wasn’t right for their agency.  My confidence, pride, dreams all shattered – for the second time that day.  So once again, Mum and I dragged our feet to the nearest coffee shop for a pep talk and regroup.

Whilst mum was drinking her coffee doing her best to keep my mind of this morning’s events, a man walked over to our table.

‘Excuse me, have you ever thought about becoming a model?’ It was James from the first agency!   I explained we had tried to see him earlier that day - he apologised he hasn’t been at the agency when we arrived.  We went back to the agency and within 20 minutes I was signing a modelling contract with one of the biggest agencies in the world.

2. What do you love most about your career?

I love the unpredictability of it which sounds crazy – I love not knowing where my job will take me one week to the next.  This was a lot easier to control before I had children of course.  For example, I was at home catching up some laundry and I got a call from my agent saying I had to fly to Spain in 4 hours time.   I panicked but my husband said he could take care of the school run and we made it work.

Every shoot is different – different people, different concept, different locations etc.  Over the years I have made such good friends with make up artists, stylist and photographers.

I love how much I get to travel.  I have been all over the world and seen things a tourist wouldn’t see.  I have stayed in some of the greatest hotels and shot on private beaches in such small corners of the world that I didn’t think existed.  I love that my career has taught me a lot about myself too.  Being a model and travelling around a lot can be a very lonely place – you spend a lot of time by yourself in airport terminals and hotel rooms so you have to get to like your own company and enjoy being with yourself. 

3. When you became a mother how did that change your attitude towards your working life?

I fell pregnant with my eldest son when I was 31 – an age in the industry that can be looked at as retirement age – add a baby into the equation and you’re basically considered ‘damaged goods’.  There are many models out there, that are younger than me who can easily replace me, so even I knew it was time to hang up my hair pieces.  I remember calling my agent at the time expressing my joyful news - ‘I was having a baby!’ – after the celebration conversation was over, it hit home that my agency was also saying that I should consider another career path after my baby was born. 

 And I thought they were right -  I knew I didn’t want to travel as much as I had done before – it wouldn’t work and I wouldn’t want to be away from my son for longer than 1 or 2 nights – so I agreed and ‘retired’ as a model.  It was difficult to accept at first, but I threw myself into an office job to earn money whilst I was pregnant and have a job to go back to after I had the baby.   I guess my attitude was, now that I’m a mother, I have to have a normal job, a normal routine, even if it made me miserable and I would pine for modelling shoots.   It wasn’t until after my son was born that I went to see another agency and they took me on again as a model.  I have worked ever since – and am still working after my second child too.  So now my attitude is, fuck it!  I am breaking the rules…I may be older and have 2 kids butthis wont stop me from doing what makes me happy.

4. Did you have any fear about becoming a mother and how it would effect future work?

Yes of course – becoming a mother was stepping into the unknown.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to take on modeling shoots anymore and this     made me feel anxious.  But when my baby arrived my thoughts on my job changed.  I wasn’t the same girl before and the idea of being away from home made me feel uneasy.  When my son was 4 months old I had a shoot in Hamburg.  I was still breast feeding so I felt that awful guilt we all feel when we work and being away from our kids.  I expressed enough milk for 24 hours and took my breast pump with me.  It was when I was breast pumping in my hotel room on the phone to my husband asking a million questions about our son that I realised my priorities had changed.  And I was at peace with this. 

5. What did you love most about your body before children and what do you love most about your body now that you have had children.

My breasts.  Before and after children.  I used to model a LOT of bras– I was the girl on the front of M&S bra packaging, so my breasts made me a lot of money over the years – and I called them ‘the girls’ and we had a great time.   I loved my breasts as they could get me into bars, get me out of parking tickets, entice young men and get me more work as a lingerie model.  It wasn’t until I was pregnant that I started to change the way I thought about my breasts.  They weren’t just my play things, they were my babies way of survival – and a new deep respect for them was formed.  Their name changed from ‘The Girls’ to ‘The Canteen’ when my son was born.  They have served me and my children very well.

6. If you hadn't followed a career in modelling, what do you think you would be doing now?

I honestly have no idea.  I got into the industry when I was 14 years old.  It’s all I have really known.  Along the way I have also tried out photography (which I still do) and being an agent but I don’t think I would have been interested in this if I hadn’t already been in the industry.  I wanted to be a mechanic when I was a kid when I saw Charlene from ‘Neighbour’s as one, so maybe this?!

7. What do you love most about being a mother?

Ahh where to start?  I love so many things about being a mother – just to say I am a mother is a gift in itself.   I love seeing my boys’ personalities and confidence grow into something beautiful.  I love how innocent they are and how they hold onto your every word.  I love how they look me like I am a superhero when I kiss their ‘ouches’ better .  I love seeing how they react to certain situations which I my husband and I have taught them.  I love how they love me, and more than anything I love our strong family unit.

8. Whats the shittiest thing about being a mother?

We all moan about being a mum sometimes – of course we do it’s the hardest job in the world.  There are many shitty things about being a mother, but at the end of the day, we chose to take on this magical role so we have to suck it up!  For me, the shitty part isn’t about the sleepless nights or the tantrums –  the shitty part is when they grow up and leave home.  Sometimes I wish I could make time stand still and enjoy my babies for as long as I can.  One day it’ll be gone and I know how quickly it passes so make the most of everyday.

9. What has been your favourite shoot to date?

This question made me stop typing completely, look away and day dream.  I have been lucky enough to have many shoots that have been incredible in terms of location, the client, the fee, the photographer etc.  I just daydreamed again for about 3 minutes.   Each shoot is entirely different to the next.  It’s tough to pin down my favourite shoot – as soon as I think of one, another one comes to mind.  Day dreaming again.

10. What would you say to a woman who has insecurities about their body?

You can say a million positive and inspiring things to a woman who has insecurities about their body, but it wont mean anything and they wont listen until they start to really over come these insecurities from within themselves.

Only when you love and accept yourself without comparing yourself to other women will you achieve inner peace and naturally all your insecurities will be lifted.  I think all women are slightly insecure about this or that, no one is perfect, but it’s how you mentally deal with it.  I used to have huge insecurities about my body when I was younger.  I was blind to how incredible I already was and I missed out on so many years of embracing this.  Now I look back of pictures of me in my swimming costume in my 20’s and I think I look amazing but I didn’t see it at the time. Now I wonder how I would feel in 10, 20, 30 years time and looking back at a picture of myself today and how I would think I looked.  Truth is, today is the youngest you’ll ever be – so lap it up!

11. Why did you start a blog in 2017?

My blog is called ‘Mama Still Got It’ and my tagline is ‘Written for Mothers – read my women’. And just like ‘Ronseal’ it does exactly what is says on the tin.

My modelling career started over 20 years ago when I was a prepubescent 14 year old and a stick insect.  Today I’m a 36 year old curvy size 14. should be considered extinct within the industry, but by hook or by crook I am still in the business – and naturally the name ‘Mama Still Got It’ was born.  Regardless if you're a model or not - we all want to be better, look better, feel better …  My mum once said to me  'You must get better with age…otherwise what's the point?'  This resonated with and became my vision in life.  It wasn’t about who I was back then, but who I am now and what I will grow into and this excites me.

Over the years my love for skincare, general well-being, fashion and cosmetics has been a passion of mine that has evolved (as I have too).  So think of  ‘Mama Still Got It’ as a blog dedicated to all mothers.  We have the hardest job in the world, and it’s not to be underestimated.  Sometimes women can lose their identity when they become a mother.  We can almost become pigeon-holed and I think it’s important to embrace our strength, beauty, pride, identity and confidence as we take on daily challenges as a mother.

So my blog is a motivational message for all mothers who want to better themselves, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Louise's blog; Mama Still got it! You can also find her on Instagram. 

Louise's blog; Mama Still got it! You can also find her on Instagram. 

Kayla Echegaray