Body Confidence and Burlesque

I wanted to take some time today to talk about body confidence, specifically mine. Almost nine years ago, I celebrated my 23rd birthday and my best friend took me to London. We had a whale of a time. But, when I look at this photo, I remember feeling sad that the jacket I was wearing was a size 14, not the 12 I’d been hoping to squeeze myself into.

Body Confidence and Burlesque

Now, I couldn’t squeeze into that size 14 jacket, and I’m ok with that. I have the occasional bad body confidence day of course, but I’m mostly happy with how I look. Except for frequent frustration at not being taller. This is because we have ridiculously high kitchen cupboards and I get tired of dragging chairs and steps across the room whenever I want pasta from the top shelf.

I was reminded of the start of my journey to body confidence very recently. I went along to the Candy Bomb Cabaret show, which my old burlesque teacher, Coeur de Plume organised. Unfortunately, you’ll see no photos of me doing burlesque in this post, because I always declined the opportunity to perform in public. The reason? My lovely mum likes to be supportive in everything I do – she’ll be reading this post at some point – and  I knew she’d have felt obliged to come along and see me take my clothes off. To be frank, I didn’t feel like it was a direction our relationship needed to go in.

How burlesque built my confidence

Couer was a pretty wonderful teacher, and made sure I was comfortable with everything we did. She really worked to build up my confidence. I wasn’t the most amazing dancer, and my attempts to seductively saunter out of my stockings were not my best work, but the way she spoke to me, you’d swear I was as good a performer as Dita Von Teese.

Body Confidence and Burlesque

I’d never felt sexier taking my clothes off. When you factor in the draughty studio, the sports bra I had to struggle out of  and the mirror I had to look in as I did it, I’d say that’s pretty darn remarkable.

That boost carried through to my everyday life. I felt empowered, comfortable, and – I’ll say it, we’re friends here – pretty darn sexy.

I started getting into vintage fashion around the same time. While I’d always loved the look, I’d been too nervous to try it , but a combination of regular Twinwood Festival visits, burlesque and a lovely new boyfriend (now husband) saw my confidence skyrocket and I decided to give it a go. Now, I wear something vintage inspired every day and I feel pretty ruddy awesome while doing it.

Body Confidence and Burlesque

Then and now

Once upon a time, I would have cringed at the thought of people looking at my clothes, my hair and my body, believing that they’d find me wanting. I spent many years assuming that I wasn’t good, pretty or slim enough, and now I look back on that time as such a waste. I compared myself unfavourably to friends, classmates, celebrities, even strangers walking down the street and hated myself for it.

I’d never even heard the term body confidence, and if I had, I wouldn’t have applied it to myself. Not even close. Once, at university, someone once asked me what I’d change about myself if I could, and I was still listing things five minutes later. How sad is that? To be so insecure and unhappy that I’d have changed almost everything about myself in an instant.

Body Confidence and Burlesque

Today, I hold my head up and if I see people looking at me, I smile and say hi. I’ve met some lovely people that way…and made some unlovely people feel really uncomfortable. It’s been a win-win. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, from wanting to change everything about myself to being comfortable in my skin.

And now I’ve written this post and reminded myself how much fun burlesque was, I fancy starting up lessons again. Excuse me while I go and find some nearby!



Carrie-Ann loves vintage fashion (original, repro - as long as it's '40s or '50s inspired, anything goes) and her husband, and has an unhealthy attachment to Doctor Who, confectionery, and the Oxford comma.




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