You’re probably used to seeing Julianne Hough on the big screen and covers of magazines, but at the BlogHer18 Health conference hosted by SheKnows Media in New York on Wednesday, Jan. 31, the actor took the stage for an entirely different reason. Joined by wellness maven Latham Thomas, Hough discussed her battle with endometriosis as part of the #SpeakEndo campaign — and teased a cool new project she has in the pipeline.
Hough, now 29, started having symptoms when she was 15 but initially wrote off the pain as standard period symptoms. "I was just like, 'This is normal, I guess?'" Hough told the audience. "I just kinda sucked it up and dealt with it."
It wasn't until 2008 that Hough received a diagnosis while filming Dancing with the Stars. "Thank goodness my mom was there because she made me go to the doctor," said Hough. "I was dancing on the show, and I actually had a cyst burst, and my mom was like, 'You are going to the doctor.'"
The official diagnosis sparked what would become a long wellness journey and a passion for promoting endometriosis awareness in addition to the message that women must advocate for their bodies and health. "Talking about this can be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be because this is our body," said Hough. "It’s the most important thing that we have, that is ours, and we need to take control and ownership of it and ask the questions, start the conversations, so that not only can you help yourself, but you can help others going through this."
Hough expanded on the idea that women, first and foremost, know what's best for their bodies. "I know my body more than anybody else and more than I think I do," she said. "Just being tuned into that makes me feel so much more empowered, knowing I have the choice and I have the power — what I put into my body, how I exercise, all of those things."
She also discussed how ignorance is not bliss — at least when it comes to health. "A lot of people don't want to know because it’s scary, but I think it’s the opposite. I think it actually gave me comfort knowing that it's a disease but something I can control. It does not define me, and it actually encourages me to spread the word that I am standing. I am here. And I have endometriosis."
Finally, Hough pointed out that women should never be afraid to ask for help. "That pressure we carry on our shoulders — it is physically, mentally, emotionally impossible. If you can give that to someone to help you with… By giving that person the chance to give to you, that’s the greatest gift you can give to them. Vulnerability is awesome. Vulnerability is a whole level of strength and power that I feel like people don’t understand."
It looks like Hough's experience with endometriosis may even be the catalyst for a new business venture as well. When Thomas asked her about what new projects she is working on, Hough announced, "I just went to a business seminar the other day because I felt like, ‘I’m an actress and a dancer but I also want to be a business owner.’" she began before teasing a possible future project.
"I actually haven't told anybody this yet, but I am going to go on a journey. I'm almost 30. It's sort of like, 'What is my purpose?' so I want to be able to document going through this and figuring out what my purpose is. I know that right now, it is very focused on fitness and health, energy work and mind, body, soul."
Hough didn't specify exactly what that journey will look like, but it sounds like something we can't wait to hear more about. Could it be a TV show? A documentary? A blog? Whatever it is, we're sure it will be just as important and eye-opening as all Hough's work so far to raise awareness of endometriosis.
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