My story of reclaiming my body and discovering sexual empowerment and healing through Burlesque
Trigger Warning: this article touches on content which some readers may struggle with, including aspects of sexual harassment
What is Sexuality?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, sexuality can consist of sensuality, sexual orientation, and sexual activity. Whilst sexuality can be considered subjective, it is intrinsic to physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
My Story: Did My Own Body Steal My Sexuality From Me?
I’ve always struggled with my body. Why? Because a genetic condition inherited from my family caused me to develop breasts as young as the age of 8 years old that progressively grew bigger during my teenage years. The physical and mental discomfort this caused led me to get life-changing breast reduction surgery at 22 years old. Even as a write now, I’m still recovering from my surgery.
How did my condition distort my relationship with my sexuality?
I always felt like my body wasn’t my own; my breasts, which were disproportionately large for my height (I’m 5ft by the way) were a catalyst to my being sexualised from a very young age, with men catcalling me at a young of 14; people wouldn’t look at my face when they spoke to me but rather at my chest and in nightclubs some guys felt like they were entitled to cop a feel because of the way my chest would protrude. I felt like my femininity, my sexuality, had been violated because people felt as though they were entitled to my body due to sexual connotations of breasts upheld by societal stigmas of women’s bodies.
After the surgery, I felt immediate relief from all the back and neck pain I was enduring, but I experienced a sort of depersonalisation of myself and my body; how do I heal a relationship that had always been fragmented in the first place?
Burlesque: So Much More Than Dance :
I started doing Burlesque at university as part of a social society. For those that don’t know, Burlesque is a form of dance; an art that can consist of strip-teasing, sensual dancing ( that can be sexually suggestive), and elaborate costumes. There are many variations of Burlesque, from modern dances to the latest top hits, to more Victorian or 1920s Cabaret styles.
However, I discovered the values of Burlesque were founded on empowerment through an expression of the sensual self, diversity, inclusiveness, and choice. I had never once considered myself to be or feel “sexy”, but through being taught how to move my body sensuously, to feel myself, highlight what my body possessed, i.e. curves, in such an expressive form synchronized with music, community, charisma, and acceptance.
Performing on stage, whilst initially nerve-wracking, became effortless because it built a bond that was already inherent within me, the connection with myself and sexual expression was waiting to be made. It was truly a path to healing. Having presented my body to an applauding audience that appreciated it, welcoming me with cheering praise.
What I learned and what I'm still learning;
Do not let society make you feel bad about your body, do not let it violate your sexuality, or your sensuality, do not let others, including social stigmas of various body types, take away your path to self-expression and jeopardize your pathway to sexual empowerment and liberation.
Seek and seize something that truly allows you to express your sensual self that lives within us, whether it is through sexual relationships, dances, or activities like pole dancing or erotica books... there is a connection waiting to be made within you that could help set you a free.