Recently a friend told me she wants to love her body but she always feels fat. I dedicate this article to her.
No woman is immune from "feeling fat". But notice we don't say "I have fat on my body all the time." What we are describing is the FEELING of being fat. For every woman, the feeling of being fat represents something different. Try completing this sentence: "I feel fat, and that means I am _______." Some examples would be: unattractive, too much, not enough, gross, unlovable, a mess...just to name a few.
Now, continue the sentence with: "if I am _____, that means__________, and that makes me feel__________."
"If I am unattractive, that means I will never live my dream of having a partner who truly loves me, and that makes me sad."
"If I am not enough, that means I will never get anything I want in this life no matter how hard I try, and that makes me mad!"
"If I am too much, that means I am different than everyone else, that no one will ever understand me, and that makes me feel sad and alone."
What is fat? Fat is a tissue. An assemblage of molecules and acids. But for a woman who is feeling sad, lonely or angry in a world that takes drastic measures to prevent her from feeling the fullness of her truth, it is easy to trick ourselves into believing that if we did not feel fat, we wouldn't have to encounter these intense feelings so often. That's what it looks like on TV anyway. So we put all our attention on how we can reshape, reform and reinvent our sweet, precious bodies. But as many of us have discovered, you can still be lonely in a differently shaped body.
So, what is the antidote? Well, it sure as hell doesn't begin an X or end with a drine. Have you ever met a girl who looks really pretty, but because she so clearly doesn't love herself, she is really un-beautiful? Her beauty is there, but it leaves you with a feeling of emptiness? And then, have you also met a girl who is incredibly "imperfect", yet completely enchanting because of how much she enjoys being exactly who she is? Her self-love is infectious, and you cannot help but fall under her spell. With this kind of woman, it's not in what she has, it's in what she believes. She refuses to buy into the idea that her scrumptious self could be anything less than lovable.
Burlesque is the living practice of being this kind of woman. There are some who think that burlesque is a step back for feminism, and that stripping is an objectification of women, period. To me, it is the exact opposite. When I went to my first burlesque show five years ago, what changed my life forever was seeing women who looked exactly like me, with real bodies, making the rules about what it means to be beautiful . They were not trying to fit into someone else's definition of sexiness, or waiting for something to change in order to feel the fullest expression of their beauty and power. And if you couldn't groove to their beat, well, you could just move on over. The same bodies I would see being squeezed, cursed and quickly covered up in the gym locker room were being flaunted and adored. I saw teeny-weeny AA cup breasts, G size breasts that came down to the belly button, and each woman walked around in mere pasties and a g-string with an ease and confidence that was impenetrable. These were not mere objects of male desire. These were objects of pure feminine power. The kind that is gorgeously unapologetic, perfectly imperfect, simultaneously embodying the beauty that dwells in the darkness and the light.