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Day 22 - Costumes, Burlesque & Body Image

Updated: Oct 27, 2019

Halloween has always been kinda of cluster for me. Whenever I am invited to a really good party, I do not have the time to find anything to wear and when I have a really good costume idea, I have no place to wear it...

Last night I went to an interesting party and clearly the best costume party of the year...well, for Ojai. I was impressed with all of the time and attention people put into their costumes. I felt a little sheepish in my home made Courtney Love garb that fell a little short. One guy told me I looked too pretty to be her so I guess I will take that: my costume sucked but I was pretty. My friend John went as Kurt and he nailed it. He did a great job and looked the part.

The band was great, the food was good, the costumes amazing. I realized that we all seem to need permission to be someone else for a little while. The burden of being us is sometimes quite a downer. The theme was fantasy - I am not sure what this says about fantasy was Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. Wow. That is really fucked up...

My friends Deya and Jayme went as a cat burglar and The Mad Hatter respectively. They looked great too. In truth, we were all outshined by the professional Halloween guests that put a lot of time, energy and dinero into the night. We spent most of the evening sitting at our table and plotting next year’s costume design.

Well that is until the Burlesque show started...

Three women got up on stage and stripped for the audience. The first one was pretty damn hot. I would have stripped also if I had her figure. Well, that isn’t true because I don’t have a bad figure and I can’t think of anything more horrifying than getting up, sober and taking off my clothes in front of an entire party! If I didn’t do it while drinking, not gonna happen sober.

The other two women owned it also. By most standards, neither of the other women had amazing figures. But they put on a great show anyway. They were seductive, playful and seemed at home in their bodies and on the stage. I was in awe. It wasn’t so much what they were doing or how they looked, it was about how they seemed to feel about themselves that left an impression.

What impressed me most was how at home in these women seemed to feel in their bodies. They seemed to have made peace with their figures, their assets and their liabilities and got up there in front of everyone and made what they had look inviting, attractive and sexy. It was something to see not because they took their clothes off, but because the seemed so at home in the skin they were in. They exuded sexiness because they felt it from the inside out.

Thanks to recovery, I have a habit of inventorying myself all the time. I can’t help it. It is running in the background of my mind all the time. As I stood there and watched the show, I thought about myself and my body. I did not feel overtly sexy or desirable. I did not feel like I had it going on. I did not feel unattractive, but I didn’t feel like I was exuding sex appeal and sexual magnetism - pulling men into my orbit. I was there and my body was too but it was almost as if we were two different people. They did not inhabit the same person. I was not one - but two.

What I saw in the women on stage was their oneness with themselves. A love of themselves for themselves. They seemed to inhabit their bodies rather be at war with them.

This made me think. Why have I always been at war with my body? I mean it has served me pretty damn well all these years. It is attractive, strong, healthy and relatively firm for my age. Why do I say awful things about it, feel wholly disconnected to it and loathe it on more occasions than I love it?

I am not sure that Burlesque is the answer but it did produce some questions for me. The most attractive part of the show last night was how much these less than perfect, middle aged women got up on stage and owned it. They presented themselves in this enticing way to all of us because that is how they felt about themselves. They exuded a self confidence and love of themselves and their attendant bodies.

It made me pause and consider how I treat my body: regrettably, shamefully, as an after thought. I do not feed it well, exercise it with regularity, provide it water and then hold it accountable for failing to meet my very high and unattainable standards. I thought about how my own burlesque show might go: awkward, stiff, uncomfortable and comical. I doubted I could even make it through a song...even if I was the only one watching it. It was clear to me that I can spend the rest of my days at war with my skin or I could, perhaps, do a little more work on myself and see if I might be able to love myself more than skin deep.

While standing there in the crowd, I vowed to take a class. At least one to push me outside my comfort zone. I don’t want to hate my body anymore. I want to have the self confidence about myself those women had about themselves. I do not want to be at war with me anymore. I am not promising to get on the stage next year and shake my shit for an audience but it would be nice to be able to put on a show for myself and not hate me, feel ridiculous or so uncomfortable that I can’t even make it through a song. I am not even going to address how ironic it is that I am thinking about this when I have no one but myself to dance for...that is the whole point. Do my life for myself...even taken to the extreme of burlesquing for myself alone.

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