Don’t let Christina Aguilera fool you, that was not Burlesque. Burlesque is a wonderful world of body positive nudity. And glitter. Lots and lots of glitter. In a world that can feel colorless and cruel, I found solace in a place where more is more: the below 14th street burlesque world of New York City. I worked full time in feathers and fans for many years before trading in my corsets for a mic, but those years defined much of who I am, including my body image self-esteem. Whether you take off your clothes for money or only occasionally to shower, everything you need to know about body image, you can learn from doing burlesque.
1.) If you can't dazzle them with talent, baffle them with bull****.
One of my dear friends and very talented burlesque performers has cystic ingrown hairs. Her solution? Glitter. Need to hide a seam? Bedazzle it. Accidentally fall down? Pretend you did it on purpose and fall down even harder. Too often in our society we feel compelled to hide our flaws, to which I say: what better place to hide than in plain site? Fake it till you make it, and then you can pay people to fake it for you. Kardashians, anyone?
2.) The only thing more intimidating than a naked woman is a naked woman who talks.
It is no great secret that women are highly sexualized in the world in which we live. I answer more questions about my sex life than my comedy, and last I knew, I wasn’t D-list famous for having sex. Your body is a weapon. Don’t let anyone use it against you. Sexuality can be a muzzle as easily as it can be a megaphone. Yes, I’m sexy. Of course I know it. Now listen to what I have to say.
3.) If something looks bad on you, you’re not wearing it right.
God broke the mold when She made all of us, kids, because no two humans are built exactly alike. Unfortunately, many of the clothes we wear are. If you hate your muffin top, change your pants. We don’t believe in hiding anything in burlesque…literally. Except our nipples, which we hide with very small glitter patches called “pasties.” Trying to make a part of you change or go away is a losing battle. Make your clothes work for you instead of trying to work for your clothes. Burlesque costumes accentuate the female form. A single straight line across your middle is rarely the most flattering way to showcase a waist. Try three lines instead: one low across your hip, one at your fullest point, and one when you’re at your smallest. Supermodels are for suckers. If women were meant to be curveless, we would have been born 14 year-old boys instead.
4.) You’re never fully undressed without a smile.
No one likes the cold, steely eyes of a woman who isn’t enjoying herself, so save your duckface for Instagram. If you’re having fun, people are going to want to have fun with you. Sure, it’s tempting to be removed from the situation, but engaging in it elicits far superior results. Taking yourself too seriously is step one for disaster. Step two is flats. Just kidding. Wear whatever shoes you like. Hell, don’t wear shoes if you don’t want to. As long as you’re smiling, no one will care. Until you let yourself go, you’re still wearing a mask. If you are willing to take it off, it will make taking everything else off significantly more enjoyable. Promise.
5.) Stop trying to be everyone’s fantasy. Be your own fantasy, instead.
Instead of trying to be the woman of everyone’s dreams, be the woman of your dreams and invite everyone to come along for the ride. If washing cars in daisy dukes isn’t your thing, show the world what is. Sexy comes in all shapes, sizes and situations. Don’t limit yourself to what you’ve already seen.