I know there are a lot of people out there who would cringe at the idea of letting their teenager be around a bunch of people who take their clothes off for fun. It sounds obscene or wrong doesn’t it? Well I have to be honest…I just don’t agree with that.
I started my burlesque journey in January of 2014. I was depressed and unhappy on many fronts and I wanted something bold and artistic to do. I had a void inside me that needed filled by something. I wanted to stand up and make a difference somehow. I really don’t know how I decided on burlesque. It might have actually been my daughter who pointed me in that direction. She has always had a variety of different interests that most teenagers don’t.
I ended up getting involved with a show called Miss Honey B’s Bourbon Boylesque. It was a fundraiser for Indiana Equality Action. When I tried out for this show, my daughter was 14. It was scary as hell trying out for something like this, and then I was asked to be a kitten. I had desperately hoped to be an actual part of the show and was really bummed to just be a part of the crew. My daughter was sitting with me on the couch when I was talking about how sad I was that I wasn’t a part of the show. She had kind words and comfort for me. I was sitting there watching my daughter be so supportive of me and she knew how hard it was for me to put myself out there. That’s when I made the decision to make the best of it. I told her that it was ok that I didn’t make it in right now. No one starts off at the top. They wanted me as a kitten so I was going to do the best I could at doing this job that I possibly could. And I did do a good job as a kitten. And by showing up and being there and being reliable, I also managed to weasel into a number and I got to perform on stage! That’s where it all started for me. I was able to show my daughter that no matter what, hard work and a positive attitude pay off.
I started the TITS program and I worked hard and I was a member of Angel Burlesque that October. My daughter was now 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. She would come to rehearsals with me. A lot of people I am sure would question why I would bring a 15 year old to see a bunch of adults strip. Well here is why. Burlesque is about respect. All of these women respect and support each other despite their differences or whether they like each other or not. Not everyone sees eye to eye all of the time. That would somehow bend the rules of physics and mathematical probability for a group of 20+ women to all feel rainbows and sunshine and sparkles for each other. But no matter how I feel about anyone in this group, I respect them all and I would be there for them in a heartbeat. Because respect and being a part of a group of women who support each other isn’t about something as trivial as LIKING each other all the time. Why wouldn’t I want my daughter to see that? She gets to see how women can be respectful and supportive of each other. Burlesque is also about body positivity and loving yourself.
The members of my troupe have a huge range of body sizes. Fat asses, perfectly round magnificent asses (Coty), big tits, little tits, tall, short….we all come in different sizes. Not every guy likes a teeny tiny girl with big fake tits. We are taught this over and over again but it’s not true. And real women don’t necessarily have curves. Some real women have no curves at all and are just naturally super thin and they are still sexy as hell and worthy of respect. I think that every woman struggles with their body image. I know that I do. There have been many times when I am about to go on stage and think that there is no way that anyone wants to see my jiggly body up there. But I have pulled it together and put it all on stage. And afterwards I have women come up to me and say that they wish that they had my body and confidence. MY BODY! Do you know just how completely mind blowing that is? We all feel that our bodies are somehow wrong or sub-par. But burlesque helps to shatter those ideas by showing that every body is beautiful and fabulous. It helps my self-confidence and I love helping other women see just how beautiful and fabulous they are…whether it is through burlesque or not. Why wouldn’t I want my daughter to see that? I am teaching her to love her body no matter what and to not be held down by the constraints of what our society says is beautiful. I am teaching my daughter to be artistic and respectful and bold and self-confident. I had a good friend insinuate that my daughter was what she thought of as “over sexual” due to me being a part of burlesque and her growing up with it. It was a little hurtful and is what got me to thinking about this whole subject in the first place.
But I have come to understand over the years the burlesque isn’t all about sexuality and getting naked. I know that a part of it. And sexuality is just a part of life. My daughter knew about sex way before I started doing burlesque. She had middle school boys trying to show her porn on their phones. Our society is always talking about sex, but not in the way that they should be. We need to be talking about sex in a safe, sane, and healthy way. I teach her about consent and how sex is a natural part of life. I am not saying that I don’t occasionally cringe when she comes to me wanting to talk about sex. I am like any other mom. But she does come to me because she feels safe enough to come to me. She knows that I will listen and respect her and give her advice. My daughter is almost 18 years old now and she is growing up in an environment that promotes all of these awesome things. She has so many role models of strong and amazing women as she is on the cusp of being a woman herself. And you know what….I am totally ok with that even if some people are not. I see being around burlesque during her teen years as a huge advantage. She gets to be around a group of bad ass men and women who expose her to the positive side of the sexual world she already lives in…..and her mom is sexy, confident, and can teach her how to put on false eye lashes in a jiffy!!! I call that a win!