Cécilia Thibier is one of those incredibly sunny women who have an eye for pretty things, without ever taking herself too seriously. Photographer, founder of the Belza Surf Shop in Biarritz and a Tajinebanane Mom, she very generously agreed to give this little interview, to give us her advice as a (very) active mother and tell us a little more about her career.
Let's start with the basics: can you introduce yourself and describe the path that led you to Biarritz?
Hello the Mif! My name is Cécilia, I am 37 years old in one month and I have two children : Leho, almost 8 years old, and Luna, two and a half years old.
I've been with my partner Laurent for almost 10 years. We met when I decided to make my dreams come true: I was working in Paris at Freemantle as a freelance image reporter when one day my editor-in-chief told me "what the hell are you doing here? You'll never fit into this mold Cecilia".
I left everything behind to live in Biarritz, become a photographer and learn how to surf... Not without great difficulty, otherwise it's not as funny, but when it's the right time, you can be sure that often, everything aligns.
And everything aligned: Laurent taught me to surf; despite my phobia of water, which I tamed through sheer strength of character (team Sagittarius) and I learned to use a camera to find a way to express my creativity.
Leho arrived quickly in my life, after 8 months of life as a couple. At that time, I was able to juggle photos, travels and family life, but with my youngest daughter, I had less space for photos... Not to mention the COVID: goodbye to travels, surf trips and the life before.
That's when Belza Surf Shop was born. It immediately answered my need to make my work as an artist real and to meet my customers. Laurent's world, surfing, and mine, photography, mixed in a small store full of good vibes, 200m from the ocean.
As a photographer, do you feel that your relationship to photography has changed since you became a mom?
Olala! Good question! The answer is YES! You should know that I only take pictures of women, to avoid any kind of seduction that would make me uncomfortable in my work.
10 years ago, my models followed the path of my unconscious: a kind of fascination of the body of the "pseudo perfection", due to the growing place of social networks, to the immaturity of my relationship with the body and to my rhythm of life, WITHOUT being a mom. Even if my photographic angle is more or less the same today, I perceive in each woman "the vulnerability of their being" with more intensity since I am a mom. The way they look at themselves, their relationship to their body: if they "instrumentalize" or play with their body, consciously or not, or if they suffer their body. Since I became a mother, my relationship with women is even more gentle, less demanding. I am even rather maternal with my own models and a shooting with me often turns into a debriefing on life!
More generally, it's also my relationship with MY body that has changed since my pregnancies: I clearly want to shout to women that "normality" (even if there is no established normality), is also fat, soft, round and that we have to love ourselves even more. But it's a long process to tell the truth because for the moment my most liked pictures are the ones of perfect bodies... at least, the ones we think are perfect.
In love with Biarritz, what are your 4 favorite places for sleep/food in the area? 1 kid-friendly spot in particular?
On the food side, we love Bali Bowls, with special mention for their latte and the acai bowl. Green spot is also a great spot for take away food on the beach of the Old Port.
Sleeping side, l'hôtel de Silhouette is a great place to stay, with a quiet garden in the heart of the markets.
For a kid friendly (and all friendly at that) break, the wonderful terrace of Olatua overlooking the ocean, with a view of the seals in the sea museum! My kids love it!
What was your experience as a breastfeeding mom? (Did you have a clear plan in mind? Did you feel that it was different for Leho or Luna?)
I was 27 when I got pregnant with Leho. I was the first of ALL my girlfriends, so I was completely left to my own devices, in a big vague process of "What's happening to me? What should I do?" and "Take it easy Cecilia, you have to let go".
In the same way, I had a blurred image of breastfeeding, twisted between "the bibi is easy" and "it's the best thing for the baby, but you'll see it's hard to live". Postpartum, a kind of mourning of your life from before and with the mishaps of breastfeeding... At the end of a month and 14 days - a February 14th Valentine's Day - on the verge of a crying fit or a nervous breakdown, I drank a big glass of red wine straight up and said, "Breastfeeding, it's over!"
But that was 10 years ago! At a time when breastfeeding was frankly not democratized (in the sense that it wasn't much talked about), nor valued.
Then a few years passed. Years of motherhood, of maturity... When I had Luna, five years later, the context was different. My girlfriends had also become mothers, the breastfeeding movement had become a little more relaxed and dusted off... So I took my little baby warmly against me, and I let myself go. It lasted 6 months, very peacefully.
I realize that there are as many breastfeeding stories as there are moms and I'm sure that if there was a third child, I would still do it differently.
What's the first tip that instinctively comes to you that you would give to a pregnant friend who wants to breastfeed?
If I had ONE piece of advice to give: surround yourself well. There are incredible people who know a lot about this subject, through their experience or their profession. They have all the keys to break the fear of the unknown for some and save time for others!
And listening to yourself is also essential.
With a busy career, shop, shoots and family life, what are your tips for keeping up?
What works for me is to externalize as much as possible to avoid accumulating frustration... I am slightly impulsive otherwise. My two techniques: talking a lot or letting off steam through sports... Surfing and yoga do me a lot of good.
In summary: I encourage everyone to find their own enforcer and try not to keep anything to themselves when something goes wrong.
And finally, what is the last funny/unlikely/surprising anecdote to tell us with your children, or one of them?
It was Leho, who asked me to help him to get dressed. I told him "but Leho I'm not going to dress you until you're 20 years old" and he answers me "Well yes mom, because we'll always live together".... !
MERCI LA MIIF’ !