Crack The Mirror Of Perfection

Body Positivity and Confidence part 3

This is not an advice article, it is all written from my own personal view based on my knowledge and experiences in my own life, hugely influenced by my burlesque and pinup side of life. Combined with quotes gathered from others within the burlesque and pinup community and also friends of mine, all with their own personal thoughts, journeys, knowledge and experiences.

{Get comfy, this is a long one. I have a lot to say, clearly}

What is perfection? Who decides what is or isn’t perfect? Should society depict what and how we should or shouldn’t look?

Hell to the NO! Why should we allow society to tell us what or how we should look. Chasing the never ending pursuit of what is deemed ‘perfect’. Who even makes these choices of what is or isn’t perfect? Seriously we are all so unique, why do we all need to look the same, that’s just boring.

Growing up as a teenager in the 90s, yep last century, the ‘in look’ was to be skinny. I mean super thin. Like, if your thighs were touching that was not going to cut it. This being the case I never felt like I was skinny enough. Even being a size 6 to 8 AUS, my thighs still touched, so that little voice inside my head was constantly telling me “you’re fat”. If only I knew earlier that the reason my thighs touched was because of my body shape. Go figure, good old genetics. A lot of pressure is put on us to have the perfect body, well what we are told is the perfect body anyhow. These days curvy bodies are so much more represented and accepted, in actual fact all body types are. Hooray!

Body Positive Shoot – organised & photographed by Ella Hackleton Photography

*Since this shoot, I’ve had the confidence to wear a bathing suit in public

“Body positivity is something that is very close to my heart, as someone who has always struggled with the way I see myself!
I organised this photoshoot to show women of all types and backgrounds that it is ok to be you, that you are gorgeous and worthy just as you are!
As women, it is so important to stick together and support one another rather than tearing each other apart and that was something I think we achieved at the shoot, women who may have not usually met each other in the real world, coming together and embracing each other!” – Ella Hackleton

Ok, I’m going to get a bit personal right now (please don’t hate, like for real, I’m a very sensitive person) …. Lately I’ve had a few people refer to me as plus size. For the life of me I can’t figure out if they are giving me a compliment or if it is a nice way of calling me, well for lack of any other word, fat. Is this the 90s teen still inside of me with that voice ringing in her ear “you’re fat”…. My gosh, the word ‘fat’ is so harsh! Being called plus size isn’t the issue, I don’t even find it offensive in any way, but growing up, way back… you know, last century, plus size was referred to as a large person, much larger than I. It starts to play on my mind that maybe I see myself differently to others. I’m a proud curvy girl, 100% happy about that, I have those thick thighs with the booty to match, a cinched in waist and an E cup bust (an hourglass figure to be precise) but am I plus size [puzzled look on face] ? I personally believe there is a difference between curvy and plus size but very unsure of how it is defined exactly. Why does it even matter and why does this make me second guess how I see myself, because deep down how others see us still lingers in the back of our minds. This is when we need to remind ourselves that what we think, look and feel about ourselves is more important than what others do. Whatever labels are placed on us, we need to remember those are just words, that’s all.

That’s me on stage at ‘A Night At The Opera’ : A Queen Tribute Burlesque Show (Fringe World Perth 2020) produced by Ivy Cabaret – Photo by Fate Photography

•••

“Yes, I do consider myself to be curvy, but not plus size. To me, my curves are a love hate relationship, some times I love the body I have and feel so good being able to show them off, but sometimes I feel frumpy and uncomfortable when clothes don’t fit or feel right.” – Madame Demi Diva

Madame Demi Diva – Photo by Fate Photography

•••

“I do consider myself plus size, it’s when magazines/media or sometimes even people who are skinny (a size 8) that say “ah I’m so fat I need to go on a diet and lose weight” or magazines consider a size 12-14 to be plus size. That’s what shits me. Plus size to me is 18 an over.”

“Since losing weight I have gained more confidence. But, since dancing. Omg so so so much more confidence. ‘I’m bringing sexy back’ is how I feel. I am a lot happier than what I was 2 years ago. I feel lighter on my feet. I feel that I can get more done. I’ve gone out a couple times and I’ve had compliments on what I’m wearing, where as 2 years ago I would of just got a stare because it was too revealing.” – Debbie Does

Debbie Does on stage at ‘Tricky Thicc: A Fat Burlesque Revue’ produced by Glamazon
Photo by Stephanie Clare

•••

“I do feel that performers should be the one to classify themselves as plus size, as there are a lot of variables that can go into that label. For example, I see myself as plus size, due to my body shape and that I’m not a ‘commercial’ size. I have wobbly bits, and they do bother me at times, but I am constantly becoming more comfortable with my body. After giving birth a year ago, my body changed again. I had to get used to those changes and how they felt. I have performed at 8 months pregnant, and 8 months after having my daughter and find that putting on my makeup, my glitter and my outfit helps me to feel powerful, strong, confident. Like I don’t need to care what others think! That confidence fuels my performances and helps me to feel gorgeous for who I am. That it is who I am, wobbly bits and all, that the audience loves on stage.” – Kitty White

Kitty White on stage at Burlesque Idol Australia – Photo by Digital Image Studio

I’m finding a lot (not all) of my (salon) clients that are in their teens or early to mid 20s are still extremely self conscious of their bodies and pick at ‘normal’ body issues as if they were the worst thing in the world, as if their body was unusual or gross. I try my best at helping them understand that this is all perfectly normal and they aren’t alone. As much as the media shows more and more diversity (they are trying anyways) it’s apparent that young women, and I’m sure men too, are still feeling the pressures of society’s ‘perfect’ body. Cellulite is a reality, stretch marks are a reality (at any age), your body jiggles. Darn it girls, who cares if your thighs touch, at least your phone won’t drop in the toilet when you are sitting there scrolling your socials. I get it. I’ve been there, I was this age once upon a time. Nothing is wrong with your body, you are ‘perfectly imperfectly perfect’. Real life is not airbrushed or filtered, it is raw and real.

•••

“For myself I actually couldn’t give a shit what people think. I have in the past been accused of being anorexic, but I feel what I’m putting in my body is my decision and no one should have the right to judge what I look like. But I do know people my age that feel that they are pressured into looking a certain way and feel like they are judged on their appearance.
The only pressure I feel, is towards myself, as I am in a sport that revolves around how my body looks. But I don’t feel the need to look a certain way for others. But once again with my friends, their are certain pressures from peer groups, society and media.” – Sarah (Sezzi)

•••

“I think that growing up and especially reaching my early to mid 20’s, I feel I’ve had unrealistic expectations on how I ‘should’ look…
I don’t know if this stemmed from not having a constant female figure in my life when I was at the age of learning and understanding my body or if it purely came down to how I viewed women on TV or social media and came to the conclusion that, that’s how I need to look”

“Training 6 days a week and having an active recovery rest day once a week, for me is more for my metal health. It’s only this past year that I’ve started to achieve the goals of how I want to look from learning about my nutritional needs. Food is so important to having the energy to train as much as I do.”

“If I’m honest though my journey might have started out wanting to look a certain way from comparing myself to fitness influencers and women in my life. However, it quickly became less about other people and completely about myself. When I started smashing my own goals and feeling happy about myself and how I look to myself, I knew I was now doing it all for the right reasons.” – Emily

Photos of Emily during a workout

When it comes to talking about body positivity and confidence the focus is hugely directed at body shape and size. Learning to love your body just as it is, is a huge part of the journey to finding body positivity, confidence and self love but there are so many other aspects that aren’t as openly spoken about or seem to be a little detached from the body positive movement. If we are going to preach and advocate for the movement then we need to be inclusive of all bodies. That means not just shape and size but also gender, disability, colour, height, age and even how we look after and groom our bodies.

Which brings me to the topic of body hair. Society heavily suggests that women in particular should remove body hair, society also says men should at a minimum ‘manscape’. But shouldn’t we be the ones to decide if we do or don’t remove our body hair. Recently it came to my attention that more and more women are making the decision to go au naturel. Especially over the COVID-19 lockdown and beauty salons being banned from operating (darn corona, what have you done to my business). Personally (my personal opinion, don’t get all attacky, sit back down Karen) I don’t like the au naturel look for myself. Perhaps the Beauty Therapist side of me but I feel sexier being freshly waxed, shaved, plucked and hair free. But this is my choice, I don’t feel like I’m forced to do this at all. I’m a grown ass woman who can make her own choices. But some feel the constant pressure of having to shave their legs and armpits. If you feel more confident and happy being au naturel then you should 100% do it and rock it. Gosh, I do envy the extra time and money you must have not having to constantly be removing hair. All the same I’m still going to continue on my merry little way of hair removal torture.

“When quarantine started I challenged myself to stop shaving everything. I wanted a break from conforming to societies (and pinups) standards, I just wanted to find me again! (Plus the cost of razors? Am I right!!!!). The choice made me feel more at home, more myself, because as much as I dress up at events, I’m a pretty chilled, down-to-earth person (as most people who meet me, know).”

Bettie Butcher – Photo by Pandom Images


“As a teenager I felt ashamed for having hair (crazy ey, hair! We’ve all got it!) I even remember being called names and made fun of. I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs until my teens and I remember it being the biggest deal ever. But why should it be? Its just hair!
I wanted to be brave and show people that its okay to be proud of your body hair, its a part of you and you should love every little bit of yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you different because you are beautiful, with, or without body hair” – Bettie Butcher

•••

“I started shaving less about ten years ago, and then stopped almost entirely about five years ago. I have pangs of insecurity every once in a while. A longing for a smooth and pretty leg, but I always had stubble by the end of the day, and red sensitivity everywhere, so even shaved my legs weren’t winning beauty contests. Overall I’m much more comfortable physically and mentally than I was when I shaved.”

Mona Minx – Photo by Lauren Reagan

“I’ve had bonding moments with other furry performers, and have had others mention that they wish they felt comfortable doing the same, but I’ve never faced any negativity backstage. On a couple of occasions, audience members have sought me out after my performance to excitedly show off their unshaved pits, and I’m really into it. If it makes someone else feel safer in their own skin, I’ll never shave again.” – Mona Minx

Mona Minx – Photo by Jeffrey Freer

•••

“For one of my acts I didn’t shave my armpits, it was a neo routine and there wasn’t any real reason why I didn’t shave, I just wanted to embrace the hair since the routine was incredibly raw.” – Ida Ocean

Ida Ocean – Photos by John Leonard Photography

•••

“I have had mixed reactions on my body hair as a burlesque performer. One producer asked me to show it off as a statement as I was the only performer in the show with body hair. On another occasion, an audience member complained to the producer about my body hair; thankfully the producer supported me and told the audience member they were welcome to never come again.”

Fi Bonacci – Photo by Express Eyrie

“In my personal life, I have had a few men express distaste for my choice not to shave, although women have generally been fine with it. Thankfully my partner supports my bodily autonomy.” – Fi Bonacci

While on the topic of hair, let’s talk colouring our hair. Personally I love seeing outrageous unnatural hair colours. It’s an amazing way to express our individuality and creativity. On the other hand their are many of us colouring our hair to a reasonably natural colour to hide those silver strands. Why is it that society makes it seem so awful for a woman to show her grey hair but a man is considered a ‘silver fox’. So many people out there spend a huge chunk of money on colouring their hair to hide those pesky greys (in my case, pure white). Do we do it because we feel like it shows our age, do we feel like we need to, because society says so? In all honesty, I’m really not ready to do away with colouring my hair. I love my dark locks, so I’ll continue to colour those bad boys as soon as they appear. I have black hair and white hair sure does show very easily. I’m not kidding I’m turning into Cruella de Vil, like for real, minus the whole stealing puppies part. What is so wrong with having grey hair, really? We are all going to end up with grey or white hair eventually. It is, after all, a natural progression of life. Oh, and heads up…. the downstairs hair goes grey too…. yep!

“I had been thinking about going au naturel for a long while but whenever I would go to the hairdresser they would suggest a little toning .. and I’d end up losing all the natural colour! In 2018 my hairdresser moved and it took me a while to find a new one who could work with my curly hair, so I used that time to let my hair grow through. I was 48 at the time and I had been on a bit of a journey discovering who I was and embracing all of me. As a bigger girl all my life I have struggled with my body image and being good enough. Through burlesque, (which I started when I was 47) I had come to love my body all the lumps and bumps but I still was colouring away the greys and it didnt seem to make sense any more.”

Polly Poussey – Photo by Crooked Images

“Going grey has been so freeing. I’m not stuck seeing a hairdresser every 5 weeks to hide my skunk line. Its cheaper… I probably save over $2000 a year! I love it… I find the comments interesting. Some ppl think Im brave (wtf!!) Some ppl compliment me.. but quickly follow up with “but I couldnt do it!” Others tell me how much darker hair suits me! But tbh I really don’t care what they say… its the natural me and just like my lumps and bumps I love it.” – Polly Poussey

•••

“I stopped colouring my hair about 8 months ago when I started realising that I have been covering up the true person I really am – I have been dying my strawberry blonde hair since I was 16 years old, probably in an attempt to change myself and feel like someone else, and maybe some deep seeded reason also is that I was not proud to be me. But 32 years later I am only just understanding who I am and embracing it greys and all. Growing out my natural colour is still a work in progress but I really love the colour and am excited about being natural, being me and not needing to hide me.” – Kathryn

•••

“I colour my hair as an outlet for my creativity. I love colours and the energy they hold. I feel confident, and unique with wild hair. Purple is my ‘normal’ hair colour. This is a colour of magic and spirituality, which reflects my life. Therefore it is the best colour to represent my personality.” – Fanny Fatale

•••

“I colour my hair because yeah I do feel more confident and I like to stand out from the crowd also orange is my favourite colour and its also the colour of Halloween my favourite time of year.” – Miss Kat Destiny

Miss Kat Destiny – Photos by Angie Delarie Pinup Photography (L) & Fate Photography (R)

Even things like cellulite, spider veins, stretch marks, dimples, freckles, scars and skin imperfections are all completely ‘normal’ things found on almost every person. No one is perfect, no one. We all have our flaws and things that make us feel insecure but that doesn’t mean we need to be ashamed of them or feel the need to cover it up. I totally understand the feeling of wanting hide or cover up the things that make you feel insecure. I’ve hidden my legs away for years and only started to feel confident in a bathing suit in last few years (remember that shoot at the start of this blog). I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% happy or confident about showing my bare legs but I don’t allow it to stop me from going to the beach or pools with my family and friends. I’m not going to lie, I use leg makeup (sometimes) to help hide my spider veins because it helps me to feel better about showing my legs. Whatever helps you to feel better within yourself do it. Don’t allow these things to hold you back from enjoying life.

“The struggle for me has been my 2 scars on my chest. I worked at BNT and I wanted to be a lingerie model but when I had a pacemaker and heart surgery it left massive scars on my chest. I would refuse to show them I wore turtle necks for most of my early 20’s and I had the best body. My first photoshoot I thought I was going to mortify people but showing my big ugly scars. It took me so long to wear a bikini. I think the hardest thing about body positivity is that people always compare themselves to the beautiful models in the media. I’d walk into bras n things and hang posters of beautiful flawless women and think that was the ultimate standard. That if I didn’t look like that I would never be a model. Who wants to see scars between breasts anyway?”

“I realised if I don’t love it and accept it no one ever will. I wanted to feel confident leave the turtle necks in the closet wear the bikini and not give a shit what anyone thought was beauty standards. A lot of people saw the scar and took pity on me. I didn’t want pity I wanted people to know I fuckin survived what I believed would kill me at 21 and if I’m going to hide my body and feel ashamed forever then the stupid fuckin media won. They won their stupid beauty standards. And what about the other girls out there having scars and thinking they are gross what kinda message does that send. That if you fight for your life your ugly. No! I wasn’t going to have that! Why should I hide what has made me, me because of these standards of beauty everyone else perceived. It scared people. I was asked to hide my pacemaker scar once because it made someone feel uncomfortable. In my early 20’s I would have cried and hid it. But now I think if you don’t like it look away. Putting up posters of beautiful woman in their lingerie all day at work for 10 years made me believe that that was beautiful. In reality accepting your body and loving who you are is way more beautiful.” – Miss Lexi Heart

After becoming a mum my body changed, not in a huge way for me, but never the less it changed. I’d put on weight, I had some stretch marks on my tummy (not a lot, I got lucky so to speak, that oiling ritual every night must of helped), my boobs grew (even my nipples and areola changed colour and size…. yep that happens), my body wasn’t the same anymore. It was hard for me to look in the mirror. I felt yuck and very unattractive. How could my husband look at this if I can’t. I know I’m not alone with these feelings. Accepting that our bodies change after having a baby is a pretty hard thing to swallow. We sure as hell shouldn’t be hating on ourselves, we just grew a tiny human inside of us, but we still do.

“Prior to having kids I was a size 6-8, 48kg aspiring model. After gaining between 22 and 25 kgs with each of my pregnancies, it was very hard to lose the weight. I was sad and couldnt come to terms with the fact my taught small figure was replaced with stretch marks and jiggly bits.”

Coco Corbeau – pre kids & now, after kids

“After my divorce and realising the amazing things my body could do like bring humans into the world, lift heavy things and withstand side effects from mental health issues, I started wearing my stretch marks and jiggly bits as trophies. I became proud of my body and its achievements and started being kinder to myself. I no longer have scales in my house and we talk about being healthy and strong not skinny especially around the kids. I was proud when my daughter said recently that she wanted to have a big booty so she could look like me. Own what you have. Wear it proudly and listen to those who support you not those who want to change you to fit their idea of what attractive is.” – Coco Corbeau

•••

“During Primary School I was a big tomboy, that was how I coped with being a chubbier kid. Going into High School, like a lot of girls then, I stopped playing sport, so my weight stayed up. While I never remember feeling huge pressure about my body, I do know I never felt happy or comfortable with my body.
During my first year at Uni, I had a self realisation moment, (I still remember the date!) I had been eating horribly while going between classes and work all the time. I had just bought some take away, I felt my pants were quite tight on my tummy, I looked down and thought to myself, I need to change this. So that next morning I went for a walk and ate breakfast, which I never did. Over the next 10 months I progressed from walking, to jogging, to running and then to playing netball which I had always loved. In the end I lost 17kg. While I was now pretty fit and feeling good, I now realise I had developed a bit of an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. I was a bit obsessive, I would beat myself up if I missed a run or ate something unhealthy.”

Chelsea – (comparison photos) Top left : Age 18, Bottom left (red dress) : Age 22, Right : now age 32

“So once I became pregnant, it was a bit scary for me to put weight on again and not feel in control of my own body. However, I kept up moderate exercise (which I attribute for having an easy pregnancy and recovery) Slowly started to embrace my pregnant body.
Once I had my little girl, I got back into my exercise routine pretty quickly (with the approval of my doctor). It was around this time my attention started to change from wanting to be ‘skinny’ to wanting to be ‘fit and strong’. So I started lifting and as well as running and netball. That for me, was life changing. I now celebrate what my body can do and achieve rather than just how it looks. I no longer own scales, I measure through my progress in my fitness.
I love my body now more than I ever have and feel comfortable in my own skin. Because I’m doing what I’m doing for me, not anyone else.
I only hope I can set this as an example for my own daughter.” – Chelsea

•••

“During my late teens and 20s, I was a professional model. I usually specialised in swimwear and underwear due to my figure! I remember feeling very comfortable about my body but still my confidence was not always the best despite outward appearances.

When I was 28 I met my husband and was heavily involved in the fitness industry as a personal trainer so my body image was positive despite ongoing insecurities about the way I looked. I was always self conscious about my legs and hardly ever showed them.”

Louise – left : modelling in her 20s, Right : personal trainer late 20s

“At about the age of 32 we tried to have children to no avail so we decided to start IVF. My life changed dramatically. My body changed due to all the hormones and my body image plummeted. However IVF was successful and I was pregnant with my first child at 37, my weight went from 51kg to 95kg. Post baby my body looked like a melted candle, a large one at that. I hated the sight of my body.”

“Low self esteem, low self-worth ensued affecting my relationship with my husband. I was so unhappy and to make matters worse I got really bad post natal depression. As well as an umbilical hernia, I had to have my abs sown together !!! So no more abs for me !!!!!

I did loose the weight through weight watchers eventually but my body was never the same !!!!”

“Around 42 I decided to embark on my university education to become a registered nurse. I gained 12kg which affected my mental health and body image ! I hated my reflection with a passion. I also experienced burnout so I decided to get into shape again with a trainer/coach. The results are astounding to me. I feel even more confident than I did as a model. I competed in my first fitness competition and came 4th. I went from 84kg down to 61kg for the competition !!!

Louise – Left : after, Right : before
Louise – on stage competing

“For me, I feel better being fit and I see it as an older mum my responsibility to be as healthy as I can so I can be around for longer. I am happy with my body but still conscious of my legs and now my tummy but I can deal with that because I think I’m ok for 49 years old !! – Louise

Learning to love our ‘new’, ‘mum’ bodies is the start of a whole new journey of self love. Some of us bounce back pretty darn quick and others don’t. We are all so different and many things factor into what and how our bodies change during pregnancy and after giving birth. Body type, skin type, metabolism, genetics and lifestyle just to name a few. Regardless of how well, or not so well our bodies ‘bounce back’ after having our babies shouldn’t mean hiding away. Wear those tiger stripes with pride, remember there are many women out there wishing they had those. Let’s celebrate all mum bods, from the rock hard toned ones to the softer rolly ones.

Now, I know I talk a lot about the burlesque and pinup community, these are my people after all, but these communities truly do encourage all things body positive, confidence and inclusivity. Well for the most part anyways. Like 99% of the time. Look, to be completely honest, there will always be a very small minority not being inclusive and upsetting others in all aspects of life. Some people are just assholes and usually not very well recieved in the community. However, finding the amazing world of burlesque and pinup completely changed the way I saw my body and where I started to find my body confidence. These are 2 places/groups of people where I’ve found that ALL bodies are represented and accepted. Let’s be honest, burlesque artists are some of the most confident people you’ll ever come across.

“Burlesque is a feminist political art form. As a fat woman, the messages I see in the media tell me: be invisible, nobody wants to see you, your body is wrong. But by performing on stage, I am demanding to be seen and to take up space that people don’t want me to occupy. I am demanding that my body be accepted as it is and not what magazines and diet ads tell me it should be. I value body diversity and positivity, and being body positive means supporting ALL bodies. Producers should strive to offer gigs to BIPOC, fat, trans, and disabled dancers. As performers, we can encourage producers and other performers to demand more diversity. We can strive to nourish our political roots and show radical body positivity in our community. Our world is full of beautiful, unique, magnificent bodies and burlesque has the opportunity to celebrate those bodies in all of their glory.” – Honey Nightingale

Honey Nightingale – Photos by Amanda Gagnon

•••

“Burlesque to me is all about body positivity. I have grown up hating my body, and punishing myself with constant dieting or emotional eating. Over the last 20 years I have lost, and regained, over 100kg (not all at once). It never occurred to me to accept my body as it was, that it was enough, until I had been doing burlesque classes for about a year. I began to examine my internal dialogue, and have simply changed the conversation I have with myself. As soon as I criticise myself, I replace the thought with a positive one. I walk around telling myself I’m hot, and that my bum is my best feature. Burlesque as a practice has taught me to love the individual me, and given me more confidence than anything else I have done.” – Cherry Charleston

Cherry Charleston – 50 year old burlesque performer | Cancer survivor | Body positivity advocate –
Photo by 42nd St Photography

•••

“As a male burlesque performer and being plus size my burlesque journey has been filled with love and support but it was an uphill challenge to gain not only acceptance from the audience but also fellow performers when I was starting out. I remember doing my first shows interstate and internationally walking into tech where I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me, I was viewed as the token boylesque and the plus size performer. Many of the performers on the bill had never seen me perform and I felt isolated and like I had a challenge to prove why I’m here and why I got booked for the show. It wasn’t until I performed that I felt accepted by them. A lot of my acts start out quite ‘tame’, which is done on purpose, I want the audience to think – oh he’s a nice dancer isn’t he or that’s a beautiful costume or his facial expressions are funny before I really let loose on stage and throw the audience through a loop with some crazy kicks, leaps and splits. I like to show them something they aren’t expecting from a plus size performer.”

Trigger Happy on stage at Burlesque Idol Australia – Perth 2020 (Guest Performer & Judge) – Photo by Jason Matz Photography

“I’ve always been confident but I never had body confidence until I started performing boylesque- the thrill of audience members screaming and cheering for you while you take your clothes off onstage is exhilarating!” – Trigger Happy

Trigger Happy – Photo by KTB

Not only are we seeing more and more diversity within the burlesque community with performers from all walks of life including gender, race, and background but we are also slowly starting to see disability being represented more and more. When you hear the word disability, you don’t really think sexy, sensual or desirable. Be honest, the majority out there don’t. There are many performers now shining a sparkly bright light out there and proving that any and all disabilities can be seen as sexy, sensual and desirable.

“I think it is very important to show that disabled people, especially women, are still able to be ‘sexy’ or sensual, there is such intense stigma that disabled people don’t like sex or have any form of sexuality and thats just not even close to true and we have the right to express that as much as anyone. So I think disbaled people in a traditionally able-bodied ‘sexy space’ is really critical for acceptance, that visibility can help change minds.”

Empress Eyrie – Self Portrait

“I think burlesque is starting to become more aware of those with disabilities and I myself have been involved in a few shows about inclusiveness that featured disabled performers. I am also seeing that more disabled performers are getting booked for main stream shows which is wonderful and some shows are really working hard on accessible spaces.”

“I am still ‘new’ to my disability, for lack of better words, I only started using my cane full time in the last two years or so and coming to terms with that through my perfomace art and using that as a form of visibility has become really important to me in helping me understand this identity. It really is hard to feel sexy sometimes when your body is failing you and everything hurts but burlesque reminds me that it is very important to channel that inner passion that can feel lost sometimes.” – Empress Eyrie

Empress Eyrie – Photo by Starkiller Creations

•••

“Being plus size in this society can be hard. Being disabled in this society can be harder. Being both is rough. Not only am I fighting what society thinks of me, but what I think of me. After leaving an abusive relationship, I knew I had to find something that made me happy – all of me. The burlesque, drag and cirque community is truly a community. Every size, shape, identity and color are included, represented and welcomed. Through burlesque I gained confidence, friends and a new purpose – shine a spotlight on performers with disabilities who are often overlooked.”

Minda Mae – Photo by Dena Denny

“I noticed the lack of representation of people with in the cabaret community and its associated shows. After speaking with performers with varied life experiences in relation to ability, I realized that a festival exclusively for disabled performers would be important for helping performers feel included, seen and valued. It also would spread awareness and visibility for this underrepresented community. The DisabiliTease Festival will be a place where performers do not feel like the “token performer with disabilities” or as the one performer who is different from others in a show.” – Minda Mae

Minda Mae – Photo by Greytree Studios

There is beauty to be found in ALL bodies and ALL people. Be proud of who you are. You deserve to be seen, you deserve to take up space, you deserve respect no matter what. If people don’t like it then they can make the choice to look away. There is no need to pass judgement and speak your mind of distaste. Keep your lips zipped shut. Reserve your judgement for your own private thoughts or to a private conversation if you must (we are all guilty of this, don’t try to act like you are all high and mighty and have never done it). If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it at all. Simple.

There was a time (many years ago) that I would have allowed society to dictate to me how to look and even dress, always keeping up with the latest styles, trends and even diets, but not anymore. I am my own person now. I may seem like a bit of a ‘princess’ to some, and I’ve been judge by this. Regardless, I’ll proudly own it. I like to wear makeup (everyday), I remove almost all my body hair (this girl is as pale as a ghost with black hair), I colour my hair, I keep my nails manicured, I like to dress up, I like to wear sexy lingerie…. why? …. because I want to, because it makes me feel good, it makes me feel confident, it makes me happy. Full stop! This is me and I will not apologise for it. No, I’m not scared to be seen in public without my makeup on or hair done. There are plenty of photos on my Instagram fresh faced and makeup free. I don’t go to the gym fully made up…. and anyhow so what if I did. Stop that judgey eye roll, Karen. Whatever makes you feel like your ‘best’ self is all that should matter.

Photo by Fate Photography

We all need to stop worrying so much about what society says we should look like, what is sexy, what is ‘healthy’. Stop comparing ourselves to others. Stop the negative thoughts from creeping into our heads. We are all unique, every one of us. Start accepting people for who they are and what they look like. Just be a nice person for shit sakes. What one person finds or deems attractive, another doesn’t and that’s ok. How you feel about yourself and how you see yourself in the mirror matters more than anything else. The pressures of society can be too much and sometimes extremely detrimental to your metal health and even physical health.

Call yourself plus size, curvy, skinny, roly poly, fit, even fat or whatever shape you want to identify as. Wear makeup, or don’t, tan, or don’t, shave/wax, or don’t, colour your hair, or don’t …. you do you, I’ll do me. Body positivity, confidence and self love grows from within. You need to find it for yourself. It’s your journey and it won’t be the same as anyone else’s.

My ultimate goal is to inspire, encourage and empower others on their own journey to body positivity, confidence and self love. Together we can

Crack the mirror of perfection!”

Love Delza xoxo

*Huge thank you to all the lovely people who helped contribute to this blog

Part 1 – Body Positivity and Confidence

Part 2 – Curve Loading

‘Crack The Mirror Of Perfection’

t-shirts available from my Etsy store

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Want to know more about me, check out my About Me page

Photo by Fate Photography