Goodbye clothes, hello new found confidence!
Sounds strange doesn’t it? That the scary notion of baring (well, almost) all can lead to a new you… Interestingly, in almost four years of running burlesque classes, the most common comment from our ladies is how they’ve found a new sense of liberation and confidence through the mere act of stripping down. Literally peeling off the layers can be like peeling off their insecurities – and once you’ve bared nearly all in a studio full of ladies you hardly know, there is nothing really to fear from anything else.
After our course ended the other day, I thought I’d look more into this and have come to a few strange conclusions…
Firstly, that people always bond when in danger. That’s not saying that taking your clothes off in a controlled environment is dangerous! More that doing something daring that relies on the encouragement of others is a bonding activity. Doing something daring can build confidence as you can use it for future reference – not in the respect of taking your clothes off in a tricky situation – more like thinking of the most daring thing you’ve done and all other things, such as arriving for a job interview, meeting new people and other social ‘obstacles’ pale in comparison.
Secondly, you know when you have one of those anxious dreams, when you are in your house naked or just in your pants and loads of people come into the dream and you feel vulnerable? We’ve all had them. This is probably your subconscious telling you you are in a vulnerable situation. But by bringing this in the conscious means you have nothing to fear. Encouraging yourself to do something similar in actual real life where you are in control counteracts those feelings of vulnerability, especially when you give eye contact and hold yourself in a strong, positive and confident way.
The fact is we all have body issues. Some have built up barriers and gradually withdrawn as a way of coping with these so-called issues. Some of us have parts of our bodies we’ve been used to covering up for many reasons for many years, and some feel wearing a bikini on the beach is an experience too traumatic to contemplate for various reasons. But others might not see those so-called flaws and bearing (almost) all is a way of reclaiming yourself and being in control of the things that might have been getting in the way of you living life. Learning that everyone in the group is in the same position can be liberating also; learning that not everyone is perfect but everyone is beautiful is a wonderful thing.
You can’t just take your clothes off on the first ‘date’, however! If you are looking to do a course such as this for a bit of confidence, you must look out for some key things:
- How long into the course is it before the pasties/tassel week?
We believe that you have to be careful with ‘stripping down’. Done in the wrong way, it can have the opposite effect; rather than being liberating, can be traumatic. We (like a few other courses in the UK) like our ladies to get to know one another first, and the pasties week isn’t until the last-but-one lesson of our courses in order to create confidence and a supportive environment.
- Is revealing essential for everyone?
If there is another option available than doing full pastie work if you are not comfortable with it, then this is a good course. No one should be forced into doing it – by peer pressure, the words of an instructor or otherwise – and if you feel confident enough to do it, then you should feel encouraged in a constructive way.
- Is the studio a safe, secure environment?
No one wants to feel they are being watched at a vulnerable moment, so check the studio is not over-looked by other premises and that other classes will not walk in the area or ‘pop in’ to have a look.
- Is the instructor experienced? Will they build up confidence prior to the ‘big reveal’?
In order to feel safe and supported, you need to have the confidence that your instructor(s) are experienced and understand many complex body image ideas. You need to feel you are being guided not pushed and more crucially, that your instructor has built up your level of confidence in the weeks before the big reveal. Good teachers will have already addressed how to hold yourself, how to appear confident and that all-important eye-contact issue (eye contact makes you feel in control) so that you feel confident enough to undress.
Shedding your clothes in a safe, creative and supported environment and doing something fun like learning to tassel can be incredibly bonding! Seeing the bodies of others, however they view themselves, can also help body acceptance ideas – and we’re damn sure you’ll be wearing that bikini on the beach after a tassel workshop!
Burlesque is not alone in this new wave of ‘shedding to gain confidence’, others are doing it too. In London, there’s Naked Yoga, naked swimming and naked bike rides going on all around the UK which is about as far from the naturism sect (yes, the naked barbecues and tennis sessions) as you can get. It’s not about comparing wobbly bits or cellulite, more about celebrating that when you strip down the layers of ‘social expectations’ that clothes cover up, everyone is the same beautiful creature underneath. Your body is a wonderful thing.