|Publisher:||New World Library|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Labels, Roles & Scripts of My Emerging Womanhood
Let me share with you the labels, roles, and scripts of my past. The accompanying costumes, accessories, and dance steps that were all a part of the choreography created for me by others. Why? Because oftentimes we see aspects of ourselves in the stories of others, bringing us levels of insight that we didn't have before. What I want for you is to be able to recognize and release the choreography that no longer serves you so you can dance your dance, your own way. To see how my past informed my present, how it almost dictated my future, and how I used FLAUNT! to set myself free from constantly seeking external validation and find joy and satisfaction beyond what I thought possible.
What I wanted, deep in my soul, was to be wickedly smart, without being labeled an aggressive bitch. To be powerfully spiritual, using and developing my own intuition on my own terms, without being called a New Age, woo-woo freak. To be sexy as hell, my own way, and enjoy how my body looked and felt, without being called a slut. I wanted to flaunt and to be all that I was without apology and most certainly without cover. Without checking pieces of me at the door when I went into a professional environment, and without altering or limiting myself to suit others. I wanted to flaunt myself, not to be obnoxious but to allow myself the opportunity to live the full breadth of all that I was. Part Amazon warrior, part gangly pink flamingo, part regal countess, part traditional June Cleaver, part ethereal goddess. I wanted to set all of me free, to show myself and the world everything I was capable of. Without worrying what people might think.
What Women Should Do, Think, Believe, and Wear
I was a successful corporate attorney with a good life. I had a husband, two children, and a house, and everything was fine. Normal. Just what it was supposed to be. It was just that most days felt like a sprint to a finish line that was constantly being moved one mile farther away. No matter how hard I tried, I could never please everyone, get it all done, or look the way I wanted to look. Collapsing into bed, sometimes in the same yoga pants I had collapsed into bed in the night before, I'd wonder, Is this really all there is? Because, seriously, there's got to be something more!
I think we've probably all had times when we've been overwhelmed and frustrated without really knowing why or having any idea what to do about it. My solution was to randomly invest in self-help books, sign up for personal-development seminars, schedule in more regular spa days, and rope my family into morning meditation. There, that should do it! If I were somehow on the proverbial "wrong path," I sure as heck was going to figure it out and get myself, my life, and my family back on track. Perhaps you may have gone down this road a time or two? I thought so.
With my family rolling their eyes and finding excuses to skip out of family meditation hour, I homed in on finding my life purpose and living my highest good, making these concepts the gold standards to which I aspired. I was certain that finding these magical yet elusive things would put me on the "right path" (even if my wayward family chose not to come along) and give me the joyful, meaningful, and chaos-free life filled with intimacy and connection that I craved.
But try as I might, I couldn't figure out how to put living my highest good or finding my life purpose on my vision board, because I had no idea what those concepts really meant — they just sounded good. Like things I "should" aspire to, because if I somehow achieved them, my frustration would magically go away. And, as I'm sure you can guess, nothing ever really changed.
Which, ironically, was kind of a relief. Because the idea of disrupting my carefully orchestrated life was scary, too! Building my so-called perfect life had been no small task, and I wasn't about to let it go in search of some elusive New Age concept. You see, my life wasn't really about me anymore. I had a family who needed me to care for them; that's what mattered now. Never mind that I had never moved to New York or Los Angeles, auditioned for the Rockettes, or trekked through Europe. I was his wife, their mom, and Lora Cheadle, Esquire, now. And proper wives, moms, and lawyers weren't sexy. Or flirty. Or daring. Or too smart. Or too powerful.
So I stayed safely in my role of corporate wife, suburban mom, and competent woman, dancing within the bounds of the neat little box — labeled "what your life should look like" — in which I lived, performing the same worn-out choreography that I had been given, while feeling slightly dissatisfied and disconnected. From my life, but more importantly, from me.
Finding My FLAUNT!
With an explosion of color, FLAUNT! woke me up to the fact that I had spent my life dancing choreography that was not my own. I had let others choose the music, the costumes, and even the stage on which I was supposed to perform. I had willingly cloaked myself with costumes, labels, roles, and scripts that were not mine. In my quest for "perfect womanhood" I had inadvertently hidden my true self and dulled my own sparkle. FLAUNT! made me realize that in order to be happy and healthy and to joyfully dance my own life, I didn't need to do more or try harder.
What I needed was to strip out of all that I had layered on in an attempt to be what I was "supposed to be" and expose myself exactly as I was. FLAUNT! showed me that I was a smart, capable, and dedicated mom, wife, and career woman, who also happened to be smart, sexy, and spiritual. And that was okay! Revealing my truth, my core essence, the divine goddess I was inside, and bringing in all versions of everything I had ever been, empowered me to rechoreograph a new life that was more spectacular, more satisfying, and more fully my own than I had ever dreamed possible.
Through the five steps of FLAUNT! — Find Your Fetish, Laugh Out Loud, Accept Unconditionally, Navigate the Negative, and Trust Your Truth — and using burlesque as the vehicle, you can recognize and release the inhibitions and judgments that are covering you; reveal all facets of your authentic, core self (ahem, your inner burlesque star); and rechoreograph a brilliant, connected, and deeply satisfying life that reveals your beauty, brains, and beliefs so you can find the authentic joy, fulfillment, and self-acceptance that you crave. Are you ready to find your Naked Self-Worth and to sparkle? Then let's FLAUNT!
The Costumes and Steps Required for the Dance of Perfect Womanhood
Most of us have been wearing the costumes of the roles we play for so long that we're not even aware that we are wearing them. We play a million different roles and have a million different responsibilities, and knowing our roles so well, we are adept at quick costume changes, of switching seamlessly between our various identities. Yet while we are often clear on how to live up to these roles, we are rarely clear on how to live up to being ourselves.
Growing up, I asked myself what I wanted to do with my life, not who I wanted to be. I never asked myself, Who are you, Lora, deep inside, exclusive of your labels, roles, and scripts, and what kind of a woman would you like to be? or What do you need to do in order to create and sustain internal satisfaction, despite external circumstances? No, I was more focused on answering questions like, Where should I go to college? What should I major in to ensure that I get a job? and What are the next steps to take in order to achieve my career goals? Nor did I ever sit down and plan out how I was going to do what I aspired to do while still being who I authentically was. You may have been the same way, more focused on doing than being. And it's my hunch that you never asked yourself deep, provocative questions about who you were inside and how you were going to integrate your honest expression of self with all that you wanted to do, either.
In my case, I modeled the behavior of those I loved, adopted the actions of those I admired, emulated beliefs of those I respected, and fumbled my way into adulthood, for right or for wrong. I'm guessing that I'm not alone, and like mine, many of your identities were created inadvertently over time, with little or no conscious awareness on your part of how they showcased or masked the woman you were inside.
Come with me, as I reveal the stories that created me, the masks that hid me, the costumes that enhanced me, and the roles in which I was cast.
My Childhood: The Tightly Corseted Little Princess
If you have seen a sitcom or a movie about a stereotypical family from the late seventies or early eighties, then you know much about my life. I had an unremarkably normal, white, Protestant, middle-class childhood, smack-dab in the middle of the good old US of A. Probably the only feature that made my family distinctive was that I was an only child, an only grandchild on both sides, and the only great-grandchild.
Yes, I was spoiled, but as the pride and joy of so many adults, I had to be perfect, because I was the only one. In order to get the praise that I so desperately desired, I had to live up to everyone's expectations, and I laced those expectations, like a corset, around the foundation of my being, dancing everybody else's choreography and making myself into exactly what others wanted me to be.
But, as perfect as I tried to be, I was still a free-spirited, fun-loving little girl, and there was no better way to express myself than through dance. Dancing got me out of my head and enabled me to flow free. Not only did dance provide an outlet for everything that was inside me; it also necessitated fancy dresses, sequins, rhinestones, tiaras, and feathers. I loved makeup, glitter, fancy hairstyles, and everything beautiful, feminine, and larger than life — exactly what my tightly laced soul wanted me to be!
This is how my journey into "perfect womanhood" began, and how my foundation was created. No matter what roles I added to my repertoire, and no matter what costumes I wore, underneath I kept the role of the perfect little princess alive and well, corseting myself into the ideals others set forth for me and oftentimes putting my own needs last. Much of my sense of worth came from how well I could please others, doing what they expected, following their rules, and dancing the dance they choreographed for me. Never mind that I sometimes had to cover, or mask, my true self in order to comply.
My Adolescence: Girls Who Wear Glasses
As a preteen, although ready to take off the tightly laced corset of my childhood and begin creating some of my own choreography, I was way too self-conscious and softhearted to show my peers who I really was and risk rejection. After all, I was not a jock or one of the pretty, popular girls. I was a studious ballet dancer who loved horses.
To make matters worse, I had recently gotten glasses — huge, round things with swooping sides and a hint of lavender — and popular girls didn't wear glasses! Since being a nerd was not what I aspired to, I wore my smart-girl glasses only in class, when I wanted to see the chalkboard, shoving them in my purse between classes and squinting my way down the hall the rest of the time. Because my parents said embarrassing and unhelpful things like "Just be yourself, sweetie!" I looked to my peers for interpretation of what made preteen girls fabulous, popular, and worthy. And because the image I saw looked nothing like me, I knew that covering up was my only option.
I surmised that if I could make myself look like a popular girl on the outside, nobody would notice that I was a total misfit on the inside. Great plan, right? Covering my body with the requisite dress code meant Levi's 501 jeans and IZOD polos, with a coordinating ribbon around the neck and Nike tennis shoes. Except that my family didn't have room for extras in the budget, and name-brand clothes were definitely extras. Not to be deterred, I focused my back-to-school shopping efforts on obtaining suitable knockoffs. JCPenney had polos with a fox instead of an alligator that I could obscure with the ribbon, leaving me confident that others would think it was an alligator, but the coveted Nikes were too expensive. Kinney Shoes had knockoff tennis shoes with a whale-shaped logo instead of the real Nike swoosh, and better yet, the knockoff pair came in lavender!
Happily covered in my knockoff popular-girl clothing, I marched to school, where the most popular, gorgeous eighth-grade boy ever looked down at my bright white shoes with the lavender whale swoosh, smirked, and said, "What kind of shoes are those?"
If you were ever an insecure adolescent girl, then you may relate to my level of mortification. I might as well have been naked, I felt so exposed! Shoes that I dearly loved the night before now filled me with embarrassment. How could I have been so stupid as to pick lavender? Real Nikes weren't lavender! Those shoes had been a terrible cover.
Speaking of terrible covers, I was terribly weary of covering my love of school, reading, and studying. Although I had always excelled in school, my role of the good girl kept me quiet about my achievements. After all, good girls didn't brag or make others feel bad! If I couldn't express myself the way I wanted in the fashion arena, maybe I could drop my cover in the academic arena, play the role of smart girl, and stand proud in my lavender smart-girl glasses instead of hiding behind them.
I registered for a science class rumored to be taught by the hardest teacher at school. The first day of class, the teacher's antics did not disappoint. Pacing around the room, he gestured to the pull-down periodic table of the elements and carried on about how we needed to memorize that table by the end of the week. No problem, I was great at memorization!
The day of the test I was ready. Both to ace the test and to publicly step into my role as a smart girl. Handing out the test, our teacher once again launched into a lecture about not underestimating the difficulty of his class. Get over it! I answered back in my own mind. Just give me the test; I've totally got this! He glanced down, just as I rolled my eyes in emphasis to my thoughts.
His explosion was cataclysmic. There I sat, tears welling up behind my lavender smart-girl glasses with the swooping arms, all eyes trained on me, as he carried on about my wanton disrespect. He slapped the test down on my desk and announced that he would grade my quiz aloud, in front of the entire class.
Quivering, I pushed through the test. Thank God I knew all the answers! My intelligence would shine through, I would be seen and accepted as the "smart girl," and everything would be all right.
Whisking my paper off the desk, he graded aloud: "Class, let's see what Miss Plank thinks Fe stands for." And then shaking his head sorrowfully and rolling his eyes in mock disappointment, he'd look at my answer, one element at a time, and ask, "Class? What does Fe really stand for?" as if all my answers, which were correct, were wrong!
What had just happened? Showing my intelligence had gotten me nowhere and had actually embarrassed me further. Burning with emotion, I saw that there were other, hidden factors at play. And although I didn't understand those factors, I knew that if I wanted to succeed, I was going to have to cover my body, my brains, and my beliefs.
The Flirt in the Pom-Pom Skirt
By the time high school rolled around, MTV had taken the world by storm. On the days I was not wearing my pom-pom uniform, I wore cut-up sweatshirts, short skirts, fishnets, anklets, and high heels, just like the girls in the ZZ Top videos. As you can probably guess, revealing myself got me seen! But not in the way I anticipated.
To me, a lifelong dancer who was used to costumes and showing my body in leotards and tights, short skirts and revealing clothing meant nothing. I thought dressing in a way that was authentic to my dancer personality would show people who I really was: a dancer who loved school and was tired of corseting herself into perfect-princess-hood or hiding behind her smart-girl glasses and was ready to reveal herself authentically so she could be seen and accepted for all that she was. Apparently I was wrong.
The attention I received from wearing short skirts and heels to school, while intoxicating in some regards, was confusing. How could a simple skirt create such a stir, and why weren't the boys — in their tight corduroy Ocean Pacific shorts, which were much shorter than my skirts, and fitted tank tops — ogled in the same way I was? Seriously, what was the big deal about my clothing, and why did my level of undress matter more than who I was inside, what kind of person I was, or what I achieved academically? How was it that I could spend my whole life being a compliant, good little girl and barely get noticed, but show my body and — bam! — everybody noticed in a way that overshadowed everything else I had accomplished?(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Flaunt!"
Copyright © 2019 Lora Cheadle.
Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Act I – Recognize & Release
Chapter 1 – The Many Masks of Emerging (and Perfect) Womanhood
Chapter 2 – Your Turn in the Spotlight.
Your Childhood Wardrobe – Begin With a Classic, Base Layer of Childhood Indoctrination…
Your Adolescent Adventures – Adolescent Virtual Reality
Adulting – Responsible Adulthood and the Power of Shedding the Shoulds
Act II – Reveal Your Naked Self-Worth™
Chapter 3 – Revealing My Sparkle Through the First Three Steps of FLAUNT!
Step One – FLAUNT! Finding my Fetish
Step Two – FLAUNT! Laugh Out Loud
Step Three – FLAUNT! Accept Unconditionally
Chapter 4 – Reveal Your Sparkle Through the First Three Steps of FLAUNT!
Step One – FLAUNT! Find Your Fetish
Step Two – FLAUNT! Laugh Out Loud
Step Three – FLAUNT! Accept Unconditionally
Act III – Re-Choreograph
Chapter 5 – Re-Choreographing My Life With The Final Two Steps of FLAUNT!
Step Four – FLAUNT! Navigating the Negative
Step Five – FLAUNT! Trusting my Truth
Chapter 6 – Re-Choreograph Your Life With The Final Two Steps of FLAUNT!
Step Four – FLAUNT! Navigate the Negative
Step Five – FLAUNT! Trust Your Truth
Act IV – The Curtain Call
What People are Saying About This
“Lora Cheadle yields up tips on how burlesque will empower women’s lives.” Leslie Zemeckis, actress, author, and award-winning documentarian