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What Burlesque Taught Me About Body Image

What Burlesque Taught Me About Body Image

Many of you know I worked in the fitness industry for nearly 20 years. I definitely learned a thing or two about body mechanics, body image, and body shaming. Health and wellness is a multi-billion dollar industry that on the surface is all about getting healthy, but there are a LOT of associations with not looking the “right” way, too.

Cue Burlesque.

One of the benefits of Burlesque that I love the most is the truly body-positive environment. I mean, truly. And if you’ve ever been to a show, or performed, yourself, then you know what I’m talking about. But if you haven’t, here’s a rundown:

The Best Audience

We’ve said it a million times on the podcast, but Burlesque audiences are the best in the world. Nowhere else can you fall on your ass, have a major costume malfunction, or pop a pastie and have so many people cheer you on with genuine adoration. You won’t hear jeers or snarky remarks (well, maybe a few from the people you invited), you won’t get horrible looks and pointing. You just get more encouragement, more clapping, and more love than you’ll know what to do with. Best. Audience. Ever.

And it’s pretty hard to feel bad about yourself when you’re too busy feeling like a badass.

The Best Family

If you are lucky enough to perform regularly with a group of artists, or if, like Cabaret and Cocktails, you have a troupe, then consider yourself incredibly lucky. Friends are the family you choose, and a Burlesque family is nothing but supportive.

They are there when you need help with the strangest things—like straightening your fishnet seams, or sewing you into your underwear, or adding tape to your pasties when you have a quick change, or applying a rogue eyelash. Your Burlesque family is there when everyone else would probably say, “WTF!?” When you are working on a creepy clown number or trying a merkin for the first time…when you can’t quite figure out where to put your leg in floorwork, or how to land your pirouette, your Burlesque family is there!

If you want to see real confidence, see it in them! They will be there to support you on and off stage and will help you break down whatever negative body image bullshit you have going on in your head.

The Best Outlet

What are you into? Feathers and fringe? Lace and leather? Clown noses and negligees? There is a place for that in Burlesque! Burlesque is all about celebrating our differences–celebrating the weird, wacky, and wonderful worlds that we dare to create on stage.

Want to play a squirrel, a gorilla, or Cookie Monster? Yup, you can do that! Want to gender-bend, juggle fire, or flirt with a fetish? Yup, you can do that, too! There is nowhere in the world where you will find more acceptance for more things…and not just acceptance, but glorious, unforgiving celebration!

The Best Body

We’ve all had our moments…or years…of body image issues, and society certainly hasn’t helped with that. But in Burlesque, all bodies are Burlesque bodies. No matter your size, shape, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, ability, you can excel at Burlesque!

I know that can be construed as just a happy sentiment, but until you really experience it, you just don’t know how true it is! If you have it, you shake it. If you’ve got it, you sure as hell better flaunt it! Burlesque is by far the most body positive atmosphere I’ve ever experienced.


Bourbon Layne, “A Warm Shot of Burlesque Whiskey”. Bourbon Layne is the most mysterious member of Cabaret & Cocktails. She’s sinfully sultry with a steamy sense of humor. She’ll wrap around you like a warm shot of burlesque whiskey, and leave you drunk and wanting more. Bourbon has a unique creative outlook and comes with an impressive aerial background to Cabaret & Cocktails.

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