Inside The New Shopping Bag – Jozefien Debaillie

From time to time we ask users of The New Shopping Bag about their life. For this edition we are very excited to offer you a very open and personal interview with Jozefien Debaillie, dancer at the great Scapino Ballet Rotterdam. Sit back and submerge yourself in the loving and original mind of this Belgian working and living in Rotterdam.

Describe yourself in three words
I found it quite impossible to describe myself in three words… So I asked some friends’ opinions. This is the result:

Passionate – Crazy – Caring

Where are you now?
I’m in the extremely ugly yet immensely comfortable sofa of the ladies dressing room of Scapino Ballet Rotterdam. It’s conveniently located right behind my station, where I change and it gives me a nice overview of the dressing room and my colleagues who are slowly sipping in for the morning class.

Tell us something about you and The New Shopping Bag
So I only recently got my shopping bag. I’ve always wanted it, ever since I used to pass by the store everyday on my way to school. At the end of last season it was a pre-summer gift to myself. Since then it hasn’t left my side. Been my help in shopping, beach buddy, festival partner, Pleinbioscoop-warm-blanket-carrier, etc.

Two weeks ago I was on a festival with my bag and some girls came to me asking if I happened to live in Rotterdam, because they recognized the bag. I thought that was kind of cool, even a bit romantic.

I have been wandering around for the bigger part of my life, following dance dreams. But also getting further and further from the feeling of a home. To then be identified as a Rotterdammer (even if it’s just because of my bag), where the last few years I have been feeling more and more at home, is just a nice confirmation of my decision to settle down here and even evokes a feeling of homecoming.

Tell us something about Susan
I do not know Susan personally, but I think it’s admirable that apparently even in the far corners of West-Flanders (on Dranouter Folkfestival) she is recognised as a Rotterdam icon.

What ecological measures would you take if you ruled the word?
This is a subject I am very passionate about. I can’t promise I can keep my answer short and probably won’t be able to share all my thoughts, but I’ll give it a try.

Firstly I would attack the garbage problem. This fast waste society drives me insane. I am a (medium) follower of the waste free lifestyle, so I have the basics of reduce- reuse- recycle in my pocket, but life doesn’t make it easy to find ecological solutions for everything, and since waste is a big issue, I think there should be more help from the top.

There is only that much a consumer can do and I gladly do it because I believe that my contribution makes a difference, but it would be nice to have a little help… Because recycling is not a sustainable solution. I think governments should forbid factories to develop packaging that cannot be developed and disappear again without causing significant damage to the nature and our health.

Then the next problem is what is inside the package. It is hard to find completely honest food. I think there should be a more fair distribution of food. We spoil so much here, while elsewhere people are starving, and most of the time the food comes even from their region.

I believe in local and honest farming, with respect for animals, humans and the planet, without child labor and pesticides and I try to buy my food with those ideas, but again, it isn’t always easy to buy a completely ‘clean’ product. So I think there should be more control from the government.

And finally I think sustainability of the planet in every aspect should be a subject in school (if it isn’t already), teaching children the consequences of their consumer choices and encouraging them to think of better solutions, for they are the future and will have to live on our planet longer then us.

How do you brighten up your existence?
By finding joy in the little things. Generally I was lucky enough to make my child dream come true, so in general I experience my life as bright. I have a nice career but also still have many life goals and interests, many plans, and great people next to me.

Of course it’s not all sunshine here. But usually after a blue day I go out and I can just really enjoy sunlight or rain, suddenly hearing a great song in ballet class, cuddling my cats, observing friends and family at gatherings without having the need to talk, a fresh walk on a winter beach. And to find joy in those little things helps overcoming the blue days.

What part does colour play in that process?
I guess if I had a fourth word to describe myself it would be colourful.

That would refer to the inside of my wardrobe, in which you can find every colour. I like to be free to choose everyday to wear the colour that fits my feeling. I have no measured style, I like everything because everyday I feel different. The colours make my day brighter, especially on one of those wonderful grey rainy Rotterdam days… If I can’t find the joy of colour outside, I just make it myself.

Though of course it goes without saying that when I am in nature, green being my favourite colour, I don’t need that colourful wardrobe and can just enjoy the natural colouring to light up the day.

Which music have you been listening to recently?
Again I do not really have a style in music. I either like certain things or I don’t. It’s rather simple.

I guess generally you could say that I tend to like indie bands. But I also love Belgian bands, Belgian art in general, really. Still a true Belgian inside… But I was also exposed a lot to classical music, jazz and even more traditional fold music and I can really go tripping on that too. And then I like Rammstein…

I guess my music taste is indefinable so I will just say I like listening to music.

What is you biggest loss?
That is a hard one… But I guess the biggest loss is the time and energy I spent on an eating disorder. It took away precious energy from my education into a dark counterproductive pattern and I think if I wouldn’t have wasted time on feeling terrible about myself I may have been in a different place now. Still now, many years later it is still often a distraction to me, every time again I see someone around me suffering from an eating disorder it hits me full in the face. Luckily through the years I have learned to find a better way to deal with it and love myself more for exactly who I am. And my body transformed into a shape I started to like, maybe even love.

However not all is lost. Because from going through this, I can recognize when other girls are struggling. I like to think that I can help them by breaking the taboo, by addressing it. Eating disorders in my experience are very private and often secret and happen only in your head and body and if someone ‘catches’ you, and recognises the patterns, you may feel alarmed at first, but then you realize you are not alone anymore with your burden and maybe it even breaks a wall and your shame can transform into a search for help to get over it.

What is your ultimate destination?
My ultimate destination is to arrive at the end of my life, look back and have no regrets and no fears to leave this world.

Photography: Jan Bijl

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