An excerpt from FLAUNT! Drop Your Cover and Reveal Your Smart, Sexy & Spiritual Self by Lora Cheadle
It’s odd to say, but my own spiritual self-growth journey mirrored the concepts found in burlesque: tease, voyeurism, and slow reveal. As a constant seeker of truth, I’d reach a new level of understanding, only to realize there was yet another layer to unveil. Which flummoxed me completely at times! I’d watch others, do what they did, meditate, read, and take classes. I’d study the great masters from around the world, do exactly what they did, but then I’d have a bad-hair day on the same day as a catastrophic hard-drive failure while uploading pictures of my son for his middle-school-graduation slide show (at the eleventh hour), and I’d come totally unhinged. It was almost like peace was a thing that the Universe would dangle in front of me, tease me mercilessly with, but never quite let me have. Just read one more book, Lora! If you would have only meditated this morning, you would have been fine, Lora! But how sad for you; you didn’t quite make it! Better luck next time!
How ironic that actual burlesque facilitated my process of self-discovery on a spiritual level. Just like burlesque performers let go of their clothing, I let go of my own limiting judgments and beliefs. I shed society’s labels, my own limited interpretation of myself and my roles, slowly at first and then with increasing fervor and joy. Stripped bare, the truth of my heart and soul visible for all to see, my own sparkle was exposed. I no longer had to guess who I was or what I wanted. I knew. And with that knowledge, I could re-choreograph my life as it was meant to be. Sparkly, brilliant, and more magnificently fun than I had ever dreamed!
And just like in burlesque shows, where the audience cheers wildly with the removal of each article of clothing, encouraging the performer to reveal more, so too did my friends and family cheer me wildly on as I removed layer upon layer of limiting judgments and beliefs. Through my journey I had unknowingly given others permission to begin their own burlesque, to reveal themselves, and to finally, gratefully, have the opportunity to be seen and accepted for who they were.
My foray into the world of burlesque showed me that burlesque is a joyful experience for the performers and audience alike because it busts stereotypes and celebrates women of all shapes, sizes, abilities, and ages. Burlesque is not about looking a certain way; it is about reveling in one’s reality. While other middle-aged moms flocked to me, larger women flocked to the larger burlesque performers, and flat-chested women crushed on the flat-chested performers. Seeing performers who looked like them, with what they perceived to be their same flaws, but who dared to be confident, beautiful, sexy, or funny in spite of those flaws, set them free to embrace those same qualities in themselves.
The act of watching someone just like them shed the label of fat, flat-chested, old, or ugly and be seen in all their glittery, flawed gloriousness was enough for some women to loosen their own labels. Watching their favorite performer do all they wished they could do, seeing others react encouragingly to their visibility, empowered many women to believe that they could let go and show their true selves as well. With its focus on humor and female-dominated power, burlesque gives women explicit permission to live confidently, joyfully, and without cover.
Is it any wonder that throughout my metamorphosis into an actual burlesque dancer I had so many friends watching my every move? Every layer of fear or expectation that I broke through — every label, role, or script that I challenged, reinterpreted, or removed — gave them permission to do the same. If I could be outrageously happy in spite of my imperfections, so could they. As I broke what I perceived to be “the rules,” I proved to myself that there was nothing stopping me from building my dreams and living my sparkle, except me.
The laughter, parody, and joy in the face of taboo and judgment that burlesque provided were the ideal combination to heal wounds around body image, sexuality, self-judgment, gender roles, power, shame, or guilt. Without setting foot on an actual stage, many of my friends were able to strip out of the fear, lies, and inhibitions that had been placed on them by their culture, family, or religion — or that were self-imposed. Just as my childhood belief that I needed to be perfect in order to be worthy became my metaphoric corset of perfection, so too could others find ways to release their own inhibitions.
Not only had I disrobed physically but I was disrobing emotionally, too, by living my particular brand of sparkle. Society said that a middle-aged mom, lawyer, and spirit-based female-empowerment coach shouldn’t do what I was doing. But I did it anyway. Not to rebel or to create a fuss, but because it was in my heart to do it. I was no longer worried about looking like I was doing the right things for the right reasons or being what I thought others wanted me to be. I was interested in getting metaphorically naked and revealing everything there was about myself.
And as a result, I was happier and more content than I had ever been. Accepting myself and my desires as they were freed me to dance my own dance with wild abandon, and that was exactly what I did!
Lora Cheadle is the author of FLAUNT! After ten years of practicing corporate law in California and Colorado, she chose to change paths to become the radio host and Life Choreographer® she is today. She is a certified hypnotist, personal trainer, burlesque performer, and yoga instructor, as well as a popular writer for People magazine and Elephant Journal. She offers “Find Your Sparkle” coaching programs, workshops, and destination retreats and teaches all over the world. Her home base is in Colorado. Find out more about her work at LoraCheadle.com.
Excerpted from the book FLAUNT!. Copyright ©2019 by Lora Cheadle. Printed with permission from New World Library.