(originally published January 13, 2016 on oxygen.com)
Don’t let Christina Agulara 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 (#necessary), everything you need to know about body image, you can learn from doing burlesque.
If You Can't Dazzle Them With Talent, Baffle Them With Bullshit
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 three or four more times before the song ends to make it look like a bit. Too often in our society we feel compelled to hide iour 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?
The Only Thing More Intimidating Than A Naked Woman Is A Naked Woman Who Talks
It is unearthing no great secret to announce 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, I was d-list famous for telling jokes. 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.
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 your pants give you muffin top, there’s something wrong with your pants, not something wrong with you. single straight line across your middle is rarely the most flattering way to showcase a waist. If we’re talking sexy underpants, try three lines, instead: one low across your hip, one at your fullest point, and one when you’re at your smallest. If you’re looking for regular pants, hit up your natural waist instead of going low-rise. Insta-flattering. We don’t believe in hiding anything* in burlesque, including the parts of us that are less than Kendall Jenner chic. Make your clothes work for you instead of trying to work for your clothes. Burlesque costumes accentuate the female form. Supermodels are for suckers. If women were meant to be curveless, we would have been born 14 year old boys instead.
* we do hide our nipples, with small glitter patches called “pasties” (see Lil Kim 2007 Grammy’s) and our soft lady parts with a g-string or a “merkin,” but other than that, we hide nothing!
You’re Never Fully Undressed Without A Smile
No one likes the cold, steely eyes of a stripper, 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 pretend you’re “over it,” but admitting you’re “in it” elicits far superior results. Taking yourself too seriously is step one for disaster. Step two is wearing flats. Just kidding. Wear whatever shoes you like. Hell, go barefoot if want to. It worked for Shoeless Joe (#FieldOfDreams). Removing that frown will make removing everything else way more fun for everyone involved. Promise.
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 hosing yourself down at a carwash daisy dukes (#JessicaSimpson) 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.