When I run any kind of class I generally get a lot of questions, much like “is it okay for an older person or bigger person or men or pregnant women. It made me laugh a little the last time I had the question as Burlesque is so inclusive of any shape size age(18+ of course for adults) race, gender affiliation, etc. In particular how I run my classes, I adapt to the needs of the person. I also have a no body-shaming policy, because no matter your shape or size we love every bit that jiggles or doesn’t!
But as a newbie, looking in from the outside I guess it doesn’t always appear that way. Social preconceptions still manage to invade the way people perceive burlesque even if those within the world try to break those down. Not only in the size and shape stakes but the stereotypes and negative preconceptions of what burlesque actually is. On reflection though, while burlesque in general is inclusive, we are still seeing that traditional classic burlesque shape still reigning supreme in many of the top level performers both in New Zealand and internationally.
Interestingly, as an audience member, many women prefer to see different shapes on the stage. One of my students who came to the last show we produced said to me that while she enjoyed watching the petite girls, she got much more of a thrill seeing larger women on stage as it gave her the belief that she could give it a go… hence why she enrolled in a class. When I look at why burlesque caught my attention it was a similar thing, not the larger shape but that fact that the performance made me think “that’s something I could do”.
Is that the attraction of burlesque? That desire to share in that confidence that we see on stage? We want to feel confident because of the social preconceptions that we see portrayed in media which at times make us feel less secure. But then our social preconceptions are what we imprint onto burlesque (or any activity) when we look from the outside in. Catch 22 isn’t it?
I guess the point is, let go of your preconception and approach whatever you do with an open mind not only towards the activity, but also towards yourself being a part of it. You are only limited by your mind after all!