I think about beauty and sexy a lot. I always have. What is beauty? Like really?
I’m not talking about what you see in magazines, I mean the people that stop you in your tracks and make you catch your breath. What kind of power comes with it? When I was a teen I read Cosmo and Vogue, magazines that sell an impossible standard of beauty and teach girls and women that they are not enough.
As I entered into my 20’s I realised that magazines like that are toxic to my soul and started to read things like Bust, Naomi Wolf, Gloria Steinem and, in my 30’s, I entered the world of Burlesque which gave my views on beauty and sexy a complete overhaul. I’m very lucky to say that, because of my burlesque community, I get to see a variety of naked women’s bodies all the time.
Being in the presence of these beautiful naked women of all sizes, shapes, ages, and ethnicities has done two things for me. It has given me an idea of what a normal female body looks like—there is no normal, we are like snowflakes, our bodies are beautiful and varied and it has and does inspire me. I am constantly inspired by woman in their 60’s-80’s who have re-defined for me what beauty, sexy, and ageing look like. I have seen the sexiest of strippers who happen to be in their 70s doing the naughtiest of stripteases, and I’ve seen the glory of a woman in her 80’s taking off her clothes on stage for the first time in 40 years and still knowing how to hold that audience in the palm of her hand. But despite all of this I still struggle at times with the changes that happen to my body and what ageing looks like on my form.
I wrote this in response to “My Naked Truth”, an article about one woman’s intimate experience with a man and his reaction to her ageing body.
The responses to this article on social media were powerful and many women asked, “How do I deal with the Dave that’s in my head?” Dealing with and releasing negative self-talk around our bodies and then connecting and rejoicing in those bodies is something I spend a fair amount of time facilitating in my burlesque and sexiness workshops (Learn to Love Your Jiggly Bitts and The Art of Being Sexy).
I have not conquered all my body issues, but I have realised that loving the body your in is a practice, something you need to do every single day, and now I’m in the constant practice of loving my body. Some days I stretch and yawn and prance, rejoicing in the delicious feeling that comes from inhabiting this body; other days are more challenging but, like I said, it’s a practice, something I need to re-presence myself to every day. This was my personal response to the women who messaged me after reading “My Naked Truth” and asked how I deal with this issue.
What it comes down to is reprogramming your brain. This is the Readers Digest version of what I teach to ladies about loving the body they’re in:
- Start thinking about your body and physicality as a beloved child or your best friend. Would you tell your best friend that she’s ugly, fat, old etc, etc… no you wouldn’t, so stop doing it to yourself.
- Start using new language in your self-talk and when you hear “Dave” in your mind hang up the phone on him (when my negative self-talk is bad, you can actually hear me saying “click” as I’m mentally hanging up the phone)
- I try to create a no shit-talk environment—that means I do not shit-talk myself and, for the most part, I do not shit-talk other people. If I really need to say something nasty I have one person that I will share it with (usually my Husband or my Mom). That’s it. They know that I’m venting and will call me on it if I start to get ridiculous!
- Enjoy positive people in your life. My no shit-talk environment also includes the people I surround myself with.
- Start your own culture of body love—it’s important to presence yourself to your bodies amazingness. Start by thinking about all the amazing things your body does everyday (including breathing, moving, keeping you alive etc.). Feel gratitude for the parts of your body you love the most, then move on to the parts you like the least. Now that your body is your best friend, you can see those parts with compassion and understand the beauty of why they are there. For me it’s my cellulite, a new belly I acquired during months of extreme stress, and the skin that has started to sag at my neck. I look at those parts of my body, put my hands on them and give them love. I remind myself that the cellulite on my thighs talks about hormonal changes I’ve gone through, that it is the road map of my evolution into being a woman. My belly was gained as my body’s response to trying to protect me during a time of deep sadness and fear. The skin under my chin shows that I have been blessed to live long enough to start to see the changes that middle age is bringing to my body.
Loving the body you’re in and letting go of the incessant negative self-talk is a practice, something that you need to be involved in everyday. Some days will be better than others but,, if you continue in this practice, you will notice deep changes starting to occur and the lightness that comes from not indulging your inner “Dave.”
We only have this one body and this one life inside of it, so experience everything you can and tap into the beauty of being human.