To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are. -Ellen Degeneres
Only I would get teary at a burlesque cabaret. I mean, really. But this Saturday night on a work assignment, amidst all the campy abandon, I was overtaken and here’s why. There aren’t really that many places where female bodies are celebrated. Or rather, there aren’t that many places where ALL female bodies are celebrated. And that, my friends, is a travesty, because (as I tell my sons regularly) all bodies are good as they are and all individuals have the right to feel good about their bodies.
So back to burlesque. It has been a long time since I’ve been to a burlesque show and, to be honest, I forgot. It’s beautiful and bold, and just plain ballsy. It’s also silly and cathartic and incredibly relaxed. People gather to be entertained, but they’re primarily there to celebrate female bodies. Now you may think that the mostly naked bodies you see at a burlesque show are relatively similar, but the truth is, the whole affair is a cacophonous explosion of individuality and, aside from the costuming in numbers that have multiple performers, there isn’t much uniformity, which, frankly, is also a big draw. This is a community that values a flirty, wild, supportive, inclusive environment. And it’s pretty glorious to bask in that for bit.
I left the show Saturday night on a high and caught a mere 6 hours of sleep until I had to be at the Canmore Nordic Centre for a women’s race. Girls as young as 6 and as old as 80 were participating in their own races. Again, females of all different fitness levels and body types, gathering to move and honour themselves and each other. A second opportunity to celebrate all female bodies in less than 24 hrs!
After the race, a longtime friend, her mom and I went to soak at the hot springs in Banff. I got to talking with a woman in the change room. She casually mentioned that she hadn’t worn a bathing suit in 15 years. She’d packed it with her many times, but just never worn it because she didn’t feel comfortable. And then today she did, like it was something she did all of the time. I was in awe.
As I was cuddling my youngest son to sleep this evening, I noticed a friend post on social media that she had rarely been swimming with her daughter, who was 7. This, because she has long felt so badly about her body. Her declaration was a battle cry: today, she is officially over feeling bad about her body to the point that she won’t go swimming. She will swim. She will swim wherever she damn pleases and she will be unapologetic. As she should be.
So many women carry shame around our bodies, within our bodies. But this is the thing, our bodies are fine as they are. We don’t need to alter them, we just need to nourish ourselves and move and take adequate rest. And we need to learn appreciation. I am grateful for each space that allows us to do that.