Did you hear? Barbie’s going curvy, petite and multi-cultural. Mattel has realised the need to update the iconic, pneumatic, impossibly slender and long-legged doll for a new generation. What sort of message have they been sending until now? Apparently the diminutive All-American’s proportions were copied from a German predecessor called Bild Lilli. Lilli was based on a popular comic strip about a woman in search of a wealthy partner… and was aimed at.. err… men.
In Barbie’s world, not only is value placed on looks, but impossible looks at that. Inaccurate vital statistics – nobody can be that tall, that slim and that buxom on top – are matched by an inaccurate portrayal of success. Success in Barbie-land means the Barbie house, the Barbie pink convertible, the Barbie wardrobe of clothes and of course, the Barbie horse. If you don’t have the impossible hat trick of looks, lifestyle and accoutrements, you’re out.
But trends have a way of shifting. Venus de Willendorf was considered the archetype of beauty in her day. When I was a teenager, growing up in 70s England, it was hip to be androgynous. Men and women had long hair, slim hips, loon pants and straight silhouettes. I had booty. It was deeply unfashionable and I hated it. I’m finally trending now it’s all too late. Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Christina Hendricks: Where were you when I needed you?
It’s about time the commercial world woke up to the fact that women come in all shapes, sizes and colour, and that looks do not maketh a woman. Or a man. What makes a person beautiful – male or female – is the entire package. It’s the personality, the smile, the warmth they exude. It’s the things they do and the things they don’t. It’s the music they like, the way they dance, the way they extend themselves into the world. It’s how they hold themselves and hold the space. It’s how they react when the chips are down and how they behave when the stakes are high. Oriah Mountain Dreamer will tell you what she wants to know: What we all want to know.
I surrendered the war on a petite dress size when I hit my fifties. I gave up impossibly youthful looks during my menopause. But I won’t give up on my sexy sassy self. My ass was flagging a bit as big bums tend to. It was past the sell-by date. And what’s the story with skin? It seems to stretch as you age, like an old swimsuit whose Lycra has rotted. I look at the spare half inch that sags over my knees. I check the crepe-like stomach that was stretched during two pregnancies. I catch the fold of skin under the chin and turn a blind eye to the ‘egg box’ cellulite. Oh how I wish it was ‘orange peel’ like the ads say. “Unsightly orange peel” would be a luxury compared to the dimpled indentations that run up the back of my upper thighs.
I don’t feel sexy. I’ve lost touch with the mesmerising allure that women possess. I’ve mislaid my own sensuality and feminine confidence. One minute it was there, all ripe and luscious and next it had withered.
Enter Burlesque. Yes. Busty, burly Burlesque. Dita Von Teese and the cheese-cake pin-ups with their nipped in waists and 1950s saucy post-card look. My teacher, Tenille Lindeque-Joshua, aka Lady Magnolia, is a dancer with legs to match Barbie’s. Within two sessions I’m wiggling my hips, walking like Monroe, wearing red lipstick and sporting vintage underwear. On went the black patent leather shoes, black patterned tights, long sparkly earrings and black eyeliner. A long shiny skirt fits around my new-found curves. An ankle-length leopard-print T-shirt dress with black netting arms and inlays hangs in my wardrobe. Nothing tarty. Nothing short. Nothing in-your-face. Just good old fashioned sexy, sassy, timeless style…. and a proper corset and fishnets for dancing, of course.
Forget Tantra. Forget workshops. Forget personal development. If you’ve lost your mojo or you feel you’re past it, if you need more confidence in the bedroom, or if you want to explore your sensuality, get yourself bumping and grinding. Burlesque, or it’s gentler cousin, Belly dancing will put you back in touch with your heritage: The inherent rhythm and eternal seductive power of the feminine. Rediscover your body and move it to the beat of the music, delighting in the sheer joy of being a woman. Every woman should go.
Tenille says it all: “The media gives us a one dimensional picture of what’s beautiful… Burlesque isn’t a picture, it’s an experience… and a whole sensation of what feels beautiful. In a burlesque performance it’s all about the performer’s personality, her character. Who she is.”
My confidence is back. My mojo’s working. I know who I am. I am woman.
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Love & Blessings,