This guest post comes to us from Ginger LeSnapps, founder, choreographer, producer and Boss Lady of the award-winning Cin City Burlesque troupe in Cincinnati, Ohio.
As a burlesque performer and producer, I have always geared my shows toward our predominantly female audience.
Please don’t misunderstand me here – I enjoy having male audience members just as much as my female ones, but their presence is an afterthought when I’m putting together a production.
Enabling and encouraging women to love their bodies has always been my main focus. My passion is being able to take any woman of any age, shape or size and make her realize her own beauty.
Sometimes it happens when they see a show. They see women of all shapes and sizes onstage, and recognize that they are all equally lovely.
Sometimes it happens when they take a class. They learn how to work and highlight every bit and bauble from the top of their heads to the tip of their polished toes.
Some women never learn that burlesque is about empowerment and sisterhood and being able to laugh at yourself and your hang-ups. They instead assume that it’s about sex and competition and men, and it makes them uncomfortable and insecure.
To those women, I have just one thing to say…I am so sorry. I’m sorry that you don’t have other women in your life that build you up instead of tearing you down. I’m sorry that someone along the way has made you believe that your body is something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. I wish with every ounce of my being that I could reverse that damage, if even only a little bit. But that change in your thinking and our body-shaming culture can only begin when you open yourself up.
We only perpetuate this Size 2 climate when we shut ourselves off to new experiences.
“Oh I couldn’t possibly take a burlesque class! I’m too fat/old/self conscious.”
“I would NEVER go to a burlesque show! Why would I want to see a bunch of naked women dancing around? Gross!”
It’s these kind of statements that break my heart. We’ve created a society of women who are ashamed, insecure, and afraid. And why on earth wouldn’t we be? Every photo is altered, and the only standard acceptable is complete and utter perfection.
And who’s to say what is perfect? Perfection is subjective. The wearer can be the only decider of that. I’m a strong believer in a woman’s right to do with her body as she pleases. Tattoos, piercings, weight lifting, plastic surgery…whatever floats your boat. As long as it’s medically sound, who’s to say you shouldn’t do it?
Just make absolutely sure you’re doing it for you, and no one else but you.
There’s been a recent outrage in the burlesque community about a New Orleans performer being let go from a standing night club gig of over a year because management thought her body type didn’t fit the “expected image” of burlesque. On social media he cited both Bettie Page (not a burlesque performer), and the movie “Burlesque” (which is so far from actual burlesque it makes me cringe) as being “standards” of expected burlesque performance. When things such as this happen, it makes me furious. Here is yet another person feeding the insecurities of women.
So I say to all of you lovely women out there that hate your love handles, and despise your flat rear, and moan over your sagging breasts, and complain about your tummy…stop it.
Embrace and love the body that is uniquely yours. Celebrate it. Flaunt it. Let it see the sunlight.
Your body is capable of generating not just all sorts of incredibly complex and beautiful movements, but also of creating and sustaining life. What on earth is there NOT to love? Go get some beautiful boudoir shots taken. Register for a burlesque workshop. Take a pole class. Encourage it to move, and learn to love the way it can.
That is, after all, what it is meant for.
Ginger LeSnapps is known for her vibrant red hair and her quick feet. Her love for classic ‘bump & grind’ and blues music are evident in her dancing. Due to her 15 years of experience of dancing and choreographing as a ballroom professional for stage, screen and competition, her performances are drenched in exciting technical dancing and mixed with a fun “wink and a smile” attitude. She has danced for thousands, and choreographed for and trained several top regional professionals. She is the founder, choreographer, producer and Boss Lady of Cincinnati’s Award-winning burlesque troupe Cin City Burlesque, the developer and trainer of Pump & Grind, and the winner of RAW Artists Cincinnati Performing Artist of the Year.