My burlesque teacher headed off to Las Vegas for the Miss Exotic World pageant (oh yes, darlings, for which she indeed is the reigning 2005 champion), so our class was canceled for the week. When she told us this week, I had a panic moment. I was having a blast and feeling my jiggly bits firming up already and I want to keep that motivation going. She told us we could come to another beginner class held on another night, so we wouldn't miss a week of all that boob-groping, ass-padow-ing goodness.
Heading to my second class, this time one night early, I felt my nerves bump up again. And again, I soothed them enough to get to the studio by cranking the volume to a little "Sexy Back" over and over and over again. Once again, JT may be saving my sex life. Or at least my ass. Either is good.
Inside the studio, I did the same scan for women who's body and anxiousness I could relate to and relax around. Instead, I found a small crowd of svelte women from the advanced class gathered around my teacher. They were a cha-cha little clique, all fish-netted and leg-warmered in their burlesque confidence. And even worse, I could hear them talking about staying for the beginner class. I couldn't help it. I was crushed.
Even with some other true beginners around me, it was clear I was the big grrrl in the class, and no boa would be floofy enough to cover that up. For all the work I've done and believe in to empower women and fight the fucked up body image crisis in this country, I made the matter worse by beating up on myself for participating in it in that moment.
Thank God for the music. When the music started and the thrusting, posing and shimmying began, those women who's bodies and confidence intimidated me became my focal point. I watched how one woman pointed her toe as she swiveled and turned. I watched how another woman dipped her shoulder and winked simultaneously. I absorbed it all.
And then I turned back to my teacher, pulling her glove off with her finger and making eyes at herself in the mirror and I had the A-HA!
I think that to do burlesque -- and I mean well, not looking like you are the sad grrrl on So You Think You Can Dance? -- you have to be a little in love with yourself.
While the teacher reminds us to envision a little come on over-oh no, not yet with the man in the mirror or audience or boudoir, as she says this she is staring at herself. And so we (or they, because I've told you I've been committed to avoiding my own reflection so far), all look into the mirror and bat our eyes and run our fingers from our temples to our waist, slowly seducing ourselves.
I think this is the magic of big-time burlesque. You have to be (or get) more than comfortable with your bare ass and your peekaboo, pastied breasts. You have to love them and you have to know that whoever is watching -- especially yourself -- loves seeing them, too.
And I guess this is why I am there, in class, with my arms and legs covered and my eyes averted.
It is time, my friends, for me to fall in love with myself. Just a little. Just enough to look up into the mirror and call myself to come hither before I push myself away.