Last night, I went out with two lovely ladies for Halloween and we happened upon a burlesque show.
I had seen photos from this particular troupe of girls and their show before. From the snapshots, I thought the shows were silly fun, and everyone was meant to laugh and revel in feelings of freedom and self-expression.
What I didn't realize was that the shows were a powerful experience in self-love. So powerful that I'm still thinking about it today, feeling the impact of what I saw seeping deeper into me.
It wasn't until I saw it in person that I understood what was actually happening in those photos. In the photos, it seems as if the women perform and everyone is apart from them, watching, maybe gaping, maybe laughing uncomfortably. In person, none of that was happening. There was laughter, but we weren't laughing at anyone - we were laughing with them and with each other because it was so damn fun.
Being there, I came to understand how dynamic the whole thing is. Nobody is just "watching". The audience is as much a part of the show as the girls are. The energy of the audience, and their willingness to let go and cheer and scream, is a vital part of the experience.
This sense of togetherness, of sharing in this as a group, is one part of what made it feel alive and electric. The other part is how empowered the women are.
In my life, I have always associated empowered women with perfect bodies. It's the message we're forcefed over and over. We're told that until you look perfect, you can't claim your perfection.
But last night, I saw something totally different.
I saw back fat and cellulite. I saw wide hips and big booties. I saw small boobs and small booties.
I saw it all, and it all felt so damn perfect I can't even describe how powerful it was. Not one woman was ashamed of any part of her body. Each woman was sexual and confident. Free and feisty. Nobody was asking for permission to exude ownership of their bodies and their beauty. They owned it, and we all bowed down in awe.
And on top of that, they owned that room.
As they undressed, there was never a sense their sexuality was for us. It was always for them. It was theirs to do with as they pleased. Even as they walked through the room, throwing gloves on people, touching people's shoulders, swinging their breasts around, there was never a feeling things were about to get out of hand. There was no question who was in control.
I feel cheesy admitting this, but thinking about it today makes me a little emotional. I feel as if someone has given me permission to love myself. To really love myself. I can no longer look in the mirror after last night's show and start picking apart my perceived flaws. It feels so wrong now. It feels like a disservice to the goddesses I witnessed. It feels like a lie, like a crazy lie that needs to be cast out of my mind.
I had no idea seeing a burlesque show would have such an impact on me. I wish I had better pictures to share with you - I was so in the moment I didn't want to stop and get out my phone.
I am eternally grateful to the bold and amazing women who performed last night. You are my new standard for perfection. You are my goal for empowerment and femininity. Thank you.
The following are some simple tools to keep on hand for anxious moments.
The first is a calming statement that will bring you into the present moment and help you to see things different. The second is an Inner Peace & Relief Cheat Sheet. It's a one page sheet for you to print out and keep on hand. The third is a six minute audio with empowering affirmations.
In this moment, I am safe.
I feel unsafe because of past experiences. In the past, things happened that made me feel unsafe and afraid. My brain has carried those past stories into the present, and it is distorting my perspective.
My brain is not doing this to sabotage me. In fact, it’s trying to protect me from being hurt and afraid again. But each day, I am growing stronger and my brain is learning to see things more clearly. Each day, I find more acceptance for how I feel and for the anxiety that is showing me how to love myself more. In this moment, I feel anxious, but that’s okay. It’s only for this moment. It will pass. It always does.
I just need to take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh.
Inner Peace & Relief Cheat Sheet
Download the following one page cheat sheet and print it out. If you can, fill it in by hand (rather than typing). When we write things out we take them in deeper and fuller. Hand writing also activates our brain more than typing, helping us to really get creative and find answers we didn't know were in us.
The following affirmations will reinforce and retrain your brain for confidence and empowerment. This six minute audio can be used in the morning, for a brief meditation, while driving to work, or any time you need a boost. These affirmations are for your solar plexus, which is your seat of self power. They are from the Chakra Balancing and Healing package.
This visualization was recorded as Episode 21 of my mini-meditation podcast. If you prefer to listen to it rather than read the text, click the button below the image!
Take a deep breath
Visualize a white light pouring down into the top of your head
It melts down all through your mind
It melts through worries and concerns
It melts through self-doubt and insecurity
It melts through stress and fatigue