Remember what that very first performance felt like to watch?
Stage entrance right. Pose. Music starts. I watch
She shimmies, she lifts her hands, her arms. She turns her head, looks at the audience and pivots. She steps out – each part of her own personal routine is carefully played out. She created it herself. She slips and falls, picks herself up and carries on like a professional. Confidence is there. Her pretty smile beams out like a torch. Her beautiful eyes twinkle in the lights.
I am holding another’s face, telling them it is perfectly natural to be nervous, it is perfectly natural to shake, it is perfectly natural to be who you are, that it is normal. I send her out to the stage with a cheeky slap, saying ‘You’re wonderful’.
Stage entrance right. Pose. Music starts. I watch.
She dances. She looks amazing. Long legs that have the illusion they go up to her neck.
Anyone who performs on stage for the first time by themselves gets my applause. It isn’t easy. Watching these brilliant women doing it ‘for themselves’ is not only encouraging, it is damn well euphoric to watch.
I am amazed to see how they grow from nervously excited students to confidently strutting on stage. The audience appreciates the transformation and rewards them with loud applause, cheering, and encouragement.
I remember my first performance and am aware of what these ladies are going through – the nerves, the emotion, and the ‘YES NAILED IT’ euphoria at the end of the routine.
Burlesque appears to be a world that holds perfection. In reality, this is not a perfect community, intended or unintended. Damage occurs, resulting in low self esteem and a lack of confidence.
It affects us all in some way, shape or form and occurs in everyday life, including the burlesque world – after all everyone is human. There appears to be more damage recently in the burlesque community that I know of, or did I just have blinkers on and not notice earlier?
My life has changed in so many ways since I stepped up on stage for the first time, the day I decided to burlesque. With each performance my self esteem and confidence increases. My creativity keeps rising. I have become my own self. I have not only learnt from teachers, I have learnt from students around me, including those trying burlesque for the first time.
I like to believe everyone’s journey starts the same as mine, they are empowered. They grow confident. They believe in themselves.
So what has changed for some over time for them to lose the very thing they sought when they started burlesque – self esteem and confidence?
Is it a careless comment (“Oh, it’s easy to do”)? Is it their own perception? Maybe it could be a mix of things? Maybe they have some ‘issues’ no one else is privy to?
Whatever the reason, personal or not, everyone who enters this community deserves the same amount of respect as we would give ourselves. We also deserve to give ourselves the same amount of respect that we give to others.
As a performer on stage we give it our all for our audiences. We pay respect to them by performing at our best. I love when someone tells me they enjoyed my glove peel, my facial expressions, or my routine. It makes my day and it only takes a second to say.
In my opinion burlesque is all about confidence, self esteem and being kind. It is not about anyone being better than me, it is about me bettering myself. I am not broken, however I do (and did) need help to build myself up in my own eyes. Burlesque helps me to build resilience to society’s perceived perfection. The truth is there is no such thing as perfection. We are all perfectly imperfect and unique and that is alright.
We all just need to learn this, and retain it.
Bethany entered the sparkly world of burlesque in February 2014 under the mentorship of Misty La Moore and Miss Cherry Lashes. Based in Auckland, her family consists of two teenage boys and a husband (wait a minute…is that three boys?). She holds down a full time job in West Auckland.
Bethany loves that the media appears to be embracing women, and is extremely fond of current fashion trends that do the same. She firmly believes there is still gender inequality in today’s society, and inequality in perception which cuts for both men and women. While the world is changing, there are still stereotypical gender roles and perceptions with detrimental viewpoints still paramount within the wider community. She believes beauty is not skin deep. Everyone has a beautiful feature and and no one should be made to feel ashamed of who they are.