And then I found myself
It all started around 5 years ago. You may think that’s not a lot, but as the saying goes, it’s not about how many years you have in your life, but about how much life there are in your years. Indeed, if I could give you a before and after picture, you’d say it does look like it’s been a lifetime. Well, why can’t you, you ask? Because I didn’t love myself enough to take pictures. I try and go back in time on my gallery, and I can’t find pictures of myself. A couple dark selfies with my cats, the odd one with family, and that’s it. I didn’t even own a full body mirror.
I had always been the girl who looked just like a guy wearing a large hoodie and sweatpants. Not because I liked sports, honestly I never did, but to hide. A while to hide being a girl, another while to hide my muffin tops, most of the time to hide my femininity and deny my sensuality.
Being born in a very retrograde country I never felt safe. I still don’t, when I go back there and even where I live now which is heaven on earth. It’s hard getting rid of a past that was so important molding your personality in your most vulnerable years — from childhood to young adult years. I’m working on it, though. I’ve got better, but still steps to go. Being a woman back there was dangerous. Being a beautiful woman, even worse. Being a humble and beautiful woman could be a death sentence. I always tell people I purchased my first mini skirt when I first moved to Switzerland: after I was already an adult.
Loving my mini skirts!
Fast forward to today… I barely own a single pair of pants. I’m the girl with the skin tight dress for a uniform, legs out as much as I can, always long and nicely done nails that almost don’t let me type this story, heels for the win and red lips, of course. My phone is full of selfies, full body pictures and my mirrors are my best friend. Well, maybe after the stage. The stage is my very best friend.
It was an early evening when I was leaving my pole class and I saw this beautiful woman getting dressed for her class coming up. She got off this gorgeous vintage dress and slipped into a corset, fishnets and high heels. I was immediately drawn to it. “What’s the next class?” — “Burlesque. Wanna try one day?”
I counted the days before my first class. It actually felt like it took forever, but the day came. I came with some old pointy heels I had had for years and never worn, and I remember they were not the best ones for dance either.
We started the class with some warm up (sexy warm up choreography, I must say! Hips, shimmies and all in between), and then we practiced walking. Walking with confidence on heels. Boy, did I suck at it. Balance, 0. Elegance, -1. Confidence? Never heard of it. But I was having fun. The teacher prompted us every time: “Look ahead! Look at yourself in the mirror!” and I blushed, but I tried to.
Classes were small and only once a week but I loved them and soon I became the example, in fact. The teacher would use me as the example to help correct the other girls, and I started becoming very good at memorizing the choreographies, and the biggest thing of them all: I couldn’t now take my eyes off of me from the mirror. What a change. I can confidently say it took me around 6 months to a year of once a week classes to get to this point.
Always playing with my mirrors
What the magic is, exactly, I can’t really tell. Is it the constant walking towards myself and flirting with my image? Is it the sexy, slow moves I got to watch myself doing and feeling super good about it? Is it the costumes, the sense of accomplishment when I had a full choreography memorized? The other women and the amazing sisterhood we have? Maybe a combination of it all?
I feel today I’m the woman I’ve always wanted to be, but was too ostracized to explore. I found freedom, my own sensuality and ultimately myself and I have Burlesque to thank for it, and all involved in it. I don’t even like to think of where I’d be if I hadn’t been there, in that small studio, that evening. I’m glad I don’t have to!