“Born in 1966, slightly cross-eyed, I am missing a canine, my legs are crooked. Breast: not received. I would like to be a model". This is the message that accompanied Valeria Sechi's photo book when she started contacting agencies to make her dream come true. «An email like this tells you that you are dealing with a self-confident, self-deprecating person with a lot of chutzpah», she says from Brescia where she moved for love when she was a girl.

And today she has reached that milestone because she is one of the best-known models-grey or, as she uses to say, "over-door", she has five children - three girls and two boys -, «and raising them should be counted among extreme sports» , he ironizes.

It all started from far away, since he left Sant'Antioco to move to Cagliari and then finally to Brescia. She had met her future husband and had fallen in love with the idea of "being free." A father with gambling addiction problems, a condition that made the family go through some very difficult years, "but all this made sure that the bond between me and my three brothers was very close, solid and important". «I have made peace with my father's figure over the years, after all he has done more harm to himself than to us. When I was a little girl we always lived under eviction, with a nightmare called bailiff, and I suffered a lot from this situation,” she recalls. «We children wore the discarded clothes of the "rich" cousins, for me it was normal. Then I discovered that you could go and buy them in stores and I thought: great!».

Did everything change when you met your husband?

«I always say that it was a souvenir of his military service, of the period in which he came to Cagliari. Then over time I realized that I hadn't fully evaluated it because I had only experienced it in an extra-daily context. I realized later that I didn't really know him. And, like many others, the spirit of a Red Cross nurse took over me: I will save him, I will change him. Don't believe it, it's never true. Let it be clear that he is neither a bad man nor one with behavioral problems, it's just that, for various reasons, he made me fall back into a reality equal to the one I lived in Sardinia. He was incapable of managing money."

Bailiffs again…

"Not only. Even unpaid bills with consequent disconnection of the current. Circumstances in which I had to invent something to explain everything to my children ».

And what did he do?

«When they took away all the furniture, including the chandeliers, I went to pick up the children from school and told them: "Guys, there's a wonderful surprise for you, at home we have an open space and we can play table football room". Instead, when there was a lack of energy, I announced the participation in a social experiment: how long can you live without electricity?».

A survival strategy.

«That's right: if I can't choose what happens to me, I can at least choose how to deal with it».

Valeria Sechi (foto concessa)
Valeria Sechi (foto concessa)
Valeria Sechi (foto concessa)

His children he describes as "an asset".

“And I am. Consider that to have them I faced five caesareans, so I wanted them badly. That's what I wanted to do: take care of them and the family. The youngest, who has Down syndrome, I don't call her "differently abled" but "capably different", this makes us understand a lot".

We arrive at when he decides to be a model at 50 years old.

«With five children and without the classic piece of paper certifying my skills, because I had left university to be a wife and a mother, I did all kinds of work, anything that allowed me to put together lunch and dinner. On that fateful birthday I felt like dying: 50 years? Stop everyone, and how did I get here? A real crisis, I started asking myself questions. I'll say one thing right away: it's not important to find the answers but to ask the right questions. However, I was wondering: do I like my life? Does it satisfy me? I have these wonderful children but not the rest, no permanent job, no home, not even a penny ».

A balance sheet that is negative is an understatement.

«And yet we often use our strength to bear and to resist, not to fight. My husband and I separated, with 4 of my children I went to live in another house, there was nothing, not even the fridge. On the other hand, there was mold. And, surprise, I found a job as a delivery boy with a permanent contract and all the guarantees. I felt reborn. Instead, the emptiness around. I was looking for reference models, civil death. At 50 it was as if women disappeared. I used to see girls who retouched themselves with cosmetic surgery and were terrified of growing old, but to me it seems wonderful to still have time to do so many things».

So she proposed herself as a model.

“And do you know what the first offers were? Advertisements for denture adhesives, incontinence pads and stair climbing machines. As if to say that getting old means losing your teeth, pissing yourself and not knowing how to climb stairs. No, I'm not."

Among your characteristics are gray hair, what do you say to those who indicate it as a symbol of sloppiness?

«I started having them at the age of 30, today they represent the relationship I have with the passing of the years, I flow with time, I don't hinder it. I don't want to look younger, but I let the years draw me. I find it much more sloppy a dyed hair on a person who then doesn't care. Sloppiness isn't dyed yes or dyed no, but because you do it. If it's not to be criticized, it's a mistake, if it's to please yourself, it's a choice."

The signs of aging: do men notice them less than women?

«We cannot generalize but we women are certainly terrible. If we dedicated ourselves to our dreams as hard as we do to an ingrown hair, we'd be unstoppable. Men notice more the attitude of the woman in front of them. And they see if he has light in his eyes. We often walk in a rut created by the decisions we've made, and as we walk it gets deeper and deeper. If you like it, that's ok. But if you feel it getting tighter, stick your head out and climb up. Our serious handicap is that of thinking in terms of subtraction, but age takes so much and gives so much».

Valeria Sechi (foto concessa)
Valeria Sechi (foto concessa)
Valeria Sechi (foto concessa)

Let's complete a few sentences together: at fifty you have to…

«Look at the time of life as a useful time to try to make your dreams come true, you can't put it off any longer. Change is like a mountain to climb, if you only look at the top it seems unattainable. Instead, watch where you put your feet and go up step by step. Meanwhile, the air, the landscape change, and your life is already improving. Will you fall? You'll check that you have the right equipment – you don't go climbing with flip-flops on your feet, so to speak – and you'll set off again».

Does it also apply to young people?

"Certain. They are often terrified of choosing: what if I'm wrong?, they ask themselves. But that doesn't matter: they'll go back and make another choice. It's not that failure qualifies you as a failure in society."

Another sentence to complete: at 50 you can no longer…

“Give others the power we've always given them. Today we live like button panels. Do we get a compliment? We are happy. A critique? Oh my how ugly. Let's not remain at the mercy of these feelings, we give too much value to the judgment of others ».

In the morning I look in the mirror and I have to think that…

"I'm lucky. Being able to do it is not so obvious. It is not obvious to wake up. And every new day is a new day to be written. Gratitude is always the first thought".

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