I have been thinking about this blog entry by Hannah ElyseCornthwaite ever since I saw it on fellow performer Dottie Lux’s facebook page. You should read it in its entirety, but the gist of it is about women (or everyone, really) forgetting about what they might see as their flaws and instead, celebrating them.
This is something I work on – and sometimes fail at – on a daily basis. I went on my first diet in 7th grade and since then, have counted calories and exercise minutes, tried creams that claim to do many things that they do not, spent too many minutes growling into the mirror, loathing flesh that is too jiggly or dimpled or droopy where I didn’t think it should be. And yes, at times, I have gone without food longer than I should have or forced myself to throw it up in the name it beauty.
Ridiculous, I know.
When I began taking burlesque classes in Chicago in 2009 with the glorious Michelle L’Amour, I slowly began to embrace all the jiggling and the dimples – because it was clear, just as Hannah talks about in her blog, that burlesque lauds not just voluptuous, jiggly gals, but the skinny ones and everyone in between. What’s more, burlesque performers cannot rely on simply being a pretty face to be adored by the crowd – the sex appeal and confidence truly has to come from the inside. And that sex appeal and confidence is what makes the outside – no matter what shape or size it is – so attractive.
Still, it’s an ongoing journey for me. I certainly enjoy my curves more now than I did even 3 or 4 years ago. I’m thankfully now in the company of friends and partners who, when they say, “Your booty is so big,” I know it’s a complement and I smile and say thank you. But…there is still so far to go. In our recent Hot Pink Feathers performance pictures (one of which is at the top of this page), I found myself scrutinizing my body to a level I would never impose on a single other performer. (“Wow,” I found myself thinking, “You’re really making those performance fishnets work hard, aren’t you?” or “Did you look in the mirror before you stepped on stage? You’re stomach is hanging all over the place…yuck.”)
Like I said, I certainly don’t hold other performers to this ridiculous standard. In fact, my favorite performers generally are the curvy, jiggly girls, because I identify with them. Ironically, that’s why I became interested in dancing with Hot Pink Feathers after moving to the Bay Area: because I saw girls that looked like me. Intellectually, I know this scrutiny doesn’t make sense. Thankfully, because of burlesque and some time in Brazil (where the bigger the booty, the better) I’ve been witness to and experienced the adoration of the curvier female form. Still, it’s a shame that sometimes the voice in the head is louder than the whistles of the crowd or even the longing whisper of lover.
But I’m working on it.