Burlesque: Why We Need More of It
A few nights back I was lucky enough to score free tickets to a burlesque show. From my limited knowledge, burlesque meant Dita Von Teese, feathers, sequins and dancing. Turns out it really means female empowerment, beauty, fun and yes, all the other stuff.
I think we could all use a little more burlesque in our lives. Here's why:
Photoshop Has Fucked Us Up
I have come to terms with the fact I will never look like a Victoria Secret model. You know why? Because Victoria Secret models don't look like Victoria Secret models. Photoshop, airbrushing and makeup have conned us into thinking perfect people are the standard of beauty.
The burlesque show I saw had women of all sizes, in lingerie, being confident, beautiful and free. I appreciate that. It was refreshing to see women without picture-perfect bodies enjoying themselves without shame or concern. True, none of them were in bad shape, but there was less than perfect six-pack abs, smaller and bigger breasts, and ::Gasp:: cellulite. None of that mattered. They were all beautiful and talented. We could use more beautiful and talented women who are more aesthetically representative of the population.
Before you shake your head and say that print ads can be enhanced, but not real, moving women, please let me mention that the TV show American Horror Story enhanced Jessica Lange's looks to make her appear decades younger for flashback scenes. So do music videos; Photoshop and its insidious reach is everywhere and it's changed what we think is real. I think we should get back to appreciating real people instead of fabricated standards of perfection. Pro-body image.
Sexual Humor Can be Smart Humor
The burlesque show had a Sci-Fi theme that I found entertaining, as I am a big Doctor Who fan. It also dabbled into political and historical humor, while wearing pasties in G-strings. Jokes were made about the Cold War, Prince Charles abdicating the throne and Abraham Lincoln. In my own ignorance, I was surprised to see smart, satirical humor at the show, as if I would only see loud music and dancing. But the acts were diverse. And because of the visual of nearly naked women acting so animated with costumes and props, I think some of the themes were better received. Sex is thrown in our faces so gratuitously in the media, I enjoy it more when paired with some intellectual stimulation.
Talent Without Feminist Disdain
Feminism, simply put, is the belief that women and men should have equal opportunity and rights. But feminism has many factions, some believing in complete openness and others rife with slut-shaming. I do not often engage with the slut-shamers because I am more concerned with women having equality and freedom of choice; how you feel about a woman who wears short skirts or whom chooses not to have children is your business. As long as she has the option to do either, I consider that a win.
Burlesque does not care if you love sluts or condemn them. It isn't promoting sex as much as you think, as performers remain on stage and have little audience physical interaction. It is a platform for women to sing, dance, enjoy performing primarily in glamorous, revealing clothing for the sake of feeling beautiful and free. It also allows you to enjoy such music and performance without participation. It doesn't look to corrupt or hurt you.
Burlesque serves a dual purpose of entertaining an audience and allowing its performers to sexy and confident while earning a living. It provides a way of life and financial gain for women who choose to dance and wear what they like. It also creates a community for those who enjoy the art form. I see it as a great lesson in feeling liberated and finding opportunity to support yourself while doing what you love. To me, that's feminism succeeding.
Less is More - And it's Sexy
Burlesque is mostly done in bra and panties. When it's not, it's often done in pasties and a G-string. During one act, one of the performers had black tape in the form of X's across her nipples and what appeared to be a taped on thong, barely hiding her genitalia. But after awhile, the risque mellows into the fact that these women have real talent, many of them being professionally-trained dancers and singers. The skimpy costumes somehow serve as a device to make you appreciate the woman as a beautiful, intimate person who is sharing her talent with me.