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Burlesque: Body-Positive Therapy

Not all nudity is sexual. There is nothing wrong with nudity that is.

By Anomie FatalePublished 6 years ago 3 min read

I do not feel comfortable in my body. I never will. It’s very hard to deal with the loss of control of something I’m inside of. I became disabled when I was 20, but I still had mobility. The two major things that affected that were:

  • My Cranio-cervical Fusion – This surgery was done to treat headaches/vertigo/heart arrhythmias from Chiari malformation. The surgeon lied to my family and me by saying I would still have head movement with the titanium rods. Instead my head was fused completely solid into place, downwards, and disfigured. I could not open my mouth much. It took a year to get a different surgeon to redo it at a better angle so that I could sing or eat solid food again. There were complications from the revision surgery (a wire came loose and went into my brainstem) so that I lost strength in my upper extremities. If I had known what they were going to do that to me, I would have chosen medications and a pacemaker instead. But that choice about my body was not mine.
  • My Tethered Cord Surgery – Another part of Chiari/EDS is when the spine tethers in the lower lumbar region and needs to be “released” to relieve tension on the brainstem. After that surgery I was supposed to be resting/healing in bed. Because I was on SSI with limited housing options, I was trapped in an abusive relationship with a roommate/caretaker. A hostile episode happened, and I needed to escape, which meant taking the risk of going down the steps of his apartment. I fell, causing a spinal fluid leak up six vertebrae. Partially paralyzed, I have not been able to lift my legs ever since.

Many of the women I’ve met performing burlesque are victims of sexual abuse with PTSD. Physical and mental trauma aren’t things you can just “move on” from. Life goes on, sure, but you’re still hurt and hurting and it almost makes it impossible to be in the present. It destroys self-image and compromises relationships with others.

So about burlesque….

There’s no therapy for hating your body quite like being partially nude in a room full of people cheering ecstatically to see it.

I can’t dance. I definitely can’t shimmy or "shake my stuff " (I’m pretty flat chested and don’t have lower body control to twerk or any talents like that).

I don’t do sexual movements. Cause for me, it’s not about sex or sexuality. It’s really just body positivity and coping with trauma in a way that makes me feel better. Also extra income because being on disability sucks. Sexy acts are great too.

I call myself the burlesque “mannequin” due to my mobility limitations. I focus acts on singing with props and costumes. They are artistic, quirky, creative, and sometimes silly. Recently I’ve started only doing acts with original music, because as a musician as well, it’s nice to acknowledge artist ownership/copyrights of the songs being used.

Also major misconception: burlesque isn’t about having horny men (and women) sexualize you onstage. Those people typically go to strip clubs. Most of the audiences I’ve experienced with doing burlesque were artists, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, parents, people not looking to fill any sexual viewing desire. They are people just looking for something artsy and a little fringe to enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with exotic dancing either, but there is a big difference.

Burlesque is not appropriate for all ages or all types of people. Recently I got involved with the Disability Equality in Education program for Pennsylvania and I’ve been questioning whether or not I need to hide my involvement with burlesque. I’ve come to the conclusion that while it’s definitely not something to talk about at high schools or colleges, I won't hide it from my social media accounts. It’s a part of me too, even if it distances me from the mainstream.

Don’t feel bad about yourself, and don’t feel bad about the things you do to not feel bad about yourself. That’s all.


About the Creator

Anomie Fatale

Musician. Mannequin. Medical Experiment.

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    Anomie FataleWritten by Anomie Fatale

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