Body Confident? Hell no!

I have had a lot of conversations with people lately about body image and work. My public image and my work is largely based around sex and sexuality. My stand-up comedy has a lot – and I mean A LOT – of jokes about sex. I do burlesque and get naked in front of 100’s of people. I write about sex. The assumption is that I am really comfortable in my body and super confident.

The truth is, I do not love my body. I do not love the way I look. I am uncomfortable being seen as “sexy.” Weird. I know. It doesn’t make sense to people when they see me on stage.

What people relay to me that the see is confidence in my body. What they miss is that I like to diffuse thoughts of me being “sexy” with humor or by assuming the role of “expert.” I don’t do elegant, sexy strip teases. Last month I came out with giant missiles on my tits and danced around to a Weird Al Yankovic song. This month I did Hedwig – partly because I adore the character, partly because she is far from elegant or “sexy.”

In my stand-up, I talk a lot about sex, but it is generally making fun of the absurdities of modern mating. I joke about being sex positive and liking sex, but it is largely self-deprecatory humor. I am comfortable in a corset and heels on stage in part because I know that my size and age eliminates the possibility that most men in the audience see me as a sex object.

Sex and sexuality has a weird power in the United States. I know affecting the whole “Domme” look gives me power in public. When I used to do legislative testimony, I always wore a pencil skirt, high collared silk blouse, jacket and stilettos. I knew walking out to the floor dressed like this snapped the attention to me. It subtly communicated “I am in control. I am the expert.”

Sex can also be threatening. I have always drawn attention in public. By virtue of being six feet tall and having large breasts, I have always drawn more attention that I am comfortable with. Years ago, I learned to block out the looks people give me. I can now navigate through a crowd and completely miss most of the attention I get. I have learned to do this because acknowledging the looks I get becomes overwhelming and sometimes threatening.

I know I still attract attention in public because when I am out with other people they comment on the number of looks that I get. I honestly don’t see them anymore. It makes me feel safer to some extent to think that I can pass somewhere unnoticed. I know intellectually that is probably not true, but not seeing the looks makes me feel safe enough to be in public.

So, why do what I do if I don’t want to be a “sex symbol?”I do it partly because I have something to say about sex and sexuality. I find these things to be core to the human experience and I think much of what is out there is simply wrong and perverse. Second, dick jokes are funny. Actually, dicks are just funny. Finally, it is what I am drawn too. I am comfortable striping on stage because I can’t see the audience with the lights. I also know I am not the pretty girl or the sexy girl in the troupe, so I know those feelings are on other women and not me.

I think it is great that there are women who feel confident and sexy in their bodies and like that attention. I sometimes wish I could be. Then there is that moment when someone I don’t know looks at me and hits on me and it freaks me out.

One comment

  1. It’s interesting how many people work and do things that they aren’t comfortable doing. Many of the people I’ve met who do burlesque or stripping or sex work don’t feel sexy, and use it as a way to start gathering more body confidence.
    Thank you for writing this, it was definitely an interesting read. Have a beautiful day sunshine ^.^

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