What Stripping On Stage Did For This “Fat” Woman

While Pinterest quotes that prescribe a healthy dose of confidence as the antidote to all social ills can be a boost to many, they fall flat when they constitute the entirety of our conversations around our bodies. The directive to "just love yourself" becomes monotonous when repeated loud and long enough. Burlesque performer Lillian Bustle offered more than lip service to self-love when she took to the TEDx stage in Jersey City to share how stripping on stage transformed her relationship with her body. "I am fat," Bustle begins. "I happen to use this word as a self-descriptor, and I don't say it to put myself down, and I certainly don't say it in hopes that someone will say, 'Oh no, you're not fat!' Because that's the thing, nobody says to a tall person, 'Oh, you're not tall!' And, nobody says that because 'tall' is not a dirty word." Bustle first performed burlesque in 2012 and she’s been "covered in glitter and boas ever since," reads her TEDx bio. She'd spent most of her life feeling ashamed of her body, before finding burlesque as a way to honor rather than hide it. In her talk, she clarifies that burlesque, as progressive as it is, is not a judgment-free vacuum: "I'm not saying it's utopia," she explains, "but I am saying that it's kind of your best chance to see a wonderfully diverse band of people gleefully celebrating their bodies onstage." And, the more we see diversity celebrated, the more we'll view it positively, she adds. Perhaps the most striking takeaway she offers is a technique she learned from fellow burlesque performer The World Famous *BOB*, who taught Bustle to use her memory of her most powerful onstage moments as her "courage reference," which she describes as "keeping that feeling in your pocket for times when you're not feeling so brave anymore." A courage reference can be any memory of personal strength and can apply to any moment of personal difficulty — body-image-related or otherwise. View Bustle's TEDx talk above for the full breadth of her burlesque-won wisdom.

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