|Publisher:||New World Library|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.00(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I believe that women deserve to be seen.
And, I believe that universally women want to be seen. For who they are. Not for what they do. Not for who they are in relation to others, and not for what they can give you. But for themselves. For who they are inside, at their most raw, authentic, vulnerable and naked core.
I believe that when women are not seen, they cover their power, dim their light, hide their beauty and reject uninhibited joy. They lose what I like to call their sparkle, which is everything inside that makes them uniquely, authentically and spectacularly themselves. When we lose our sparkle, we lose touch with our hearts, we suppress our personal desires, and we fall out of love with our bodies. In short, we fall into a state of chronic self-judgment, and we stop enjoying life fully.
I can year you saying, “Oh come now, Lora! Everyone gets those self-depreciating voices in their head once and a while! It’s not like I’m a pathetic, sniveling, groveling creature laying in a puddle on the floor. I’m a successful, happy adult.” And I say, “Yes, you are right! To a point. It’s deeper, and more insidious than that.”
If you are anything like me, it’s not the moments of Oh Gawd, I am such a freaking (fat and out of shape) loser... that sends me spiraling down, it’s the fact that nobody notices the things I do each and every day of my life, that are objectively, pretty incredible. It’s the fact that for many others, I do in fact, keep everything together. Yet nobody really sees me. They only see what’s not done.
As cartoonist Bob Thaves said about Fred Astaire, “Sure he was great, but don’t forget the Ginger Rodgers did everything he did backwards, and in high heels.”
We are so used to dancing backwards and in high heels that we lose sight of the fact that what we do, day in and day out is extraordinary. We have been fighting for our rights, for our status, for recognition, and for our voice for so long, and we are so stunningly capable of molding ourselves into our high-heeled, backwards stepping dance, that we forget it is our right to turn around, take off our dysfunctional (but admittedly, super cute and sometimes-totally-worth-the-pain) shoes, and dance our own dance. Our way.
Sure, as the song says, we can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man, but is that even what we want? I don’t know about you, but as a little girl, I dreamed of being a sparkly fairy princess or a ballerina. I dreamed of things that made me happy and that filled me with joy. I didn’t dream of mainlining coffee so I had enough energy to power through my days or of being more focused on completing my never-ending to-do list than on grounding into the joy of the present moment and actually enjoying my life. I didn’t dream of sacrificing myself so that others could shine.
So I ask you, what happened to pursuing our dreams and desires?
It’s my guess that like me, you have lived your life covering your body, your brains and your beliefs, somewhat terrified that someone, somewhere, might (gasp!) get the wrong idea about you. It’s time to reveal yourself. To find your Naked Self-Worth™ through the five steps of FLAUNT! so you can expose the authentic woman you are underneath.
Whether it’s self-judgment, body-shame, fear, an insatiable need for approval, or some other experience or story that you’ve internalized, FLAUNT! uses burlesque as the vehicle to strip away the costumes and masks you have been wearing, release unreasonable expectation and put down everything that’s holding you back from loving yourself and your life fully.
Through the five steps of FLAUNT!; Find Your Fetish, Laugh Out Loud, Accept Unconditionally, Navigate the Negative and Trust in your Truth, I will share the story of how I went from overachieving lawyer to fully embodied burlesque star, empowering you to reconnect with your inner burlesque start, to strip out of body shame, guilt, self-judgment, and whatever stories and beliefs are holding you back, so you too can FLAUNT! your beauty, brains and beliefs; exactly as they are, in a way that is perfect for you!
Ummm, Why Burlesque?
Now, if you are reading this and thinking, No way! I could never show off my sagging breasts, C-section scar, cellulite, muffin top or whatever body part you are hating on at the moment, what I want to say to you is this; FLAUNT! is not about getting naked physically!
Unless of course, you want to.
FLAUNT! is about using the principles of burlesque to strip away everything nonessential that’s covering your raw, beautiful soul, to strip down emotionally, intellectually, and maybe even physically, so you can reveal your whole self to the world exactly who we are, with divine, uninhibited authenticity.
The other thing I want to say to you, is even if it were about getting physically naked, you are more than your breasts, your cellulite or even your picture-perfect thigh-gap. You are more than your insecurities, your fears or your failures. You are more than a successfully completed to-do list or even your cushy paycheck. And if you don’t believe me right now, that’s okay too. Creating, and embodying your burlesque identity is what is going to help you get there!
Let me explain what I mean by getting naked and being seen. When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and saw the truth of the woman staring back at you? When was the last time you let another see her? I know how scary it is to be honest and vulnerable about yourself, but I also know that our fears are often times much greater than the actual thing we’re afraid of and that until we move into those fears, we are held captive by them.
I also know that being brave enough to FLAUNT! your beauty, your brains and your beliefs, not only changes you for good, but it changes our world. And one woman at a time, living with our beauty, brains and beliefs fully exposed, allows us to be seen for the glittery burlesque goddess or the badass bitches we are and we reclaim our power, diversity and voice.
If you’re feeling kind of scared by this whole naked thing, I’m right there with you! I know how you feel, because, once upon a time I was scared too. I was scared that I wasn’t enough. That I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough, or strong enough. My biggest fear was that I’d put it all out there, I’d show my raw self and I’d find out that I was right. That I wasn’t enough. And I’d be left standing there. Exposed. With nowhere to hide, and with nothing to cover myself.
After ten years of practicing law and after a lifetime of being a really good girl, I personally had enough. Enough of the cover up. Enough of always trying to do more. So, I decided to get naked and reveal myself; literally. In my mid-forties, I became a burlesque dancer, and it set me free! Being brave enough to get naked, meant that there was nothing left for me to hide, and consequently, nothing left to fear. Cellulite, stretch marks, my exhaustion - my fear that no one would see me - or value me - or love me - unless I conformed to their standards, I put it all out there, without cover. I allowed others to see me as I was. I was seen. And I learned, that who I am, is more than enough.
Think about it like this: In order for gems to sparkle most brilliantly, all facets of that gem must be exposed. If we want to sparkle as brilliantly as we are capable of sparkling, we must expose all facets of who we are as well. Whether its external factors such as sexism, ageism, racism, or internal factors such as body shame, mommy guilt, or the ideas, stories and beliefs you hold that may no longer be true. Your sparkle is your sense of worth. What’s covering your sparkle? When we get naked, and unapologetically expose all facets of who we are, we can’t help but sparkle and shine!
Are you ready to be seen for who you are as opposed to or what you wear? Are you ready to find congruence between your inner being, the roles you play, and the persona you present to the world? Are you ready to connect deeply with yourself and start living and enjoying the life you’ve worked so hard to create? Are you ready to stop putting yourself last and to experience uninhibited joy every day of your life, not just on occasion? Then you are ready to FLAUNT!
What is Burlesque? (No, it’s NOT a movie with Cher and Christine Aguilera…)
Burlesque is a glittery, glamorous, and often-times humorous extravaganza that originated in Europe over one hundred and fifty years ago. It continued in America through the vaudeville circuits, the glamorous 40s, 50s and 60s, all the way to the present day through the neo-burlesque resurgence. Although some people think that burlesque is stripping, it isn’t. Burlesque is a theatrical experience where the audience purchases a ticket to the show; they do not pay or tip dancers to take off more clothes or to give them personalized attention. The point of a burlesque show is to provoke thought, laughter and teasing entertainment. It is not about inspiring lust. In fact, although many burlesque performers go down to pasties (nipple covers, often with tassels) and panties, full nudity is not allowed.
Burlesque is a parody, a grand and glittery extravaganza that points out the various juxtapositions or ironies present in everyday life and mocks many of society’s uptight views. Using humor, exaggeration and daring, burlesque showcases that which is right in front of our eyes but that we choose not to see. Which is what makes the removal of clothing so powerful; nudity is taboo! Burlesque pokes fun at the fact that sex, age, sexuality and non-photo-shopped bodies are all things that we have, but deny about ourselves to others.
Performers tease the audience by making them think they are going to see something they shouldn’t see and then pulling it away. A good performer creates anticipation by concealing and revealing that which lies beneath her elaborate costume, always leaving the audience wanting more. Like so many other things in life, burlesque is all about the tease! When our desires and rewards are dangled just outside of our reach, it entices us, keeps us playing the game, hanging on and wanting more!
In burlesque lingo, whenever an article of clothing is removed it’s called a reveal. Each reveal provides the audience with a little bit more information, shows them a bit more and gives them enough satisfaction to keep them watching, always waiting for more. Burlesque is interactive. The emcee in a burlesque show typically begins by explaining to the audience that burlesque is not like traditional theater. If you see something you like, and you want to see more, holler! Whistle! Have fun and show your appreciation! Let the dancers know that you see their bravery. Their daring. Let them know that they are being seen. Sometimes, when an audience is too quiet, burlesque performers even put their hand to their ear, like, “Are you there? I can’t hear you!”
The idea of burlesque is to show who we are, without our masks, without our carefully constructed façades. In burlesque, as in FLAUNT!, the removal of clothing shows the removal of a cultural norm, an ironic idea, a label, a role or even a belief. For example, as polite members of society, none of us are supposed to admit that we are curious about seeing others naked. But come on! We all are! Everyone sneaks peaks, and no, not in a sexual way! As women, we check out other women. We compare our bodies, our hair, our makeup, or whatever to those of other women. This sense of curiosity is what creates anticipation in a burlesque routine. Are we going to see something we aren’t supposed to see? And how will I compare? Burlesque is not about the strip, it’s about the tease!
The Spiritual Tease
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 of 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, teasing me mercilessly with, but would never quite let me have. Just read one more book, Lora! If you would have only mediated 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 that 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 of 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, be seen.
My foray into the world of burlesque showed me that burlesque was a joyful experience for performers and the audience alike because it busted stereotypes and celebrated women of all shapes, sizes, abilities and ages. Burlesque was not about looking a certain way; it was 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 too 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.
And the laughter, parody and joy in the face of taboo and judgment that burlesque provided were the ideal medium for healing 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 have been placed on them by their culture, family, religion or themselves. Just like 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 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 in 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 that I had ever been. I was free to dance my own dance with wild abandon, and that was exactly what I did!
Your Inner Burlesque Star
Your inner burlesque star is your naked, authentic self. She is the confident, fun, playful, anything-is-possible part of you who cannot be hurt. Although she loves costumes, masks, makeup, feathers, glitter, the whole nine yards, she knows how to take it all off. She’s not afraid to strip down, to show off her beauty, her brains and her beliefs, exactly as they are. Without apology.Do you think you might want to hang out with her? She’s pretty awesome!
FLAUNT!, like playing an elaborate game of dress-up, allows you to put on and take off a variety of personas. And just like in a real burlesque routine, strip out of the ones you find confining, outdated or not to your liking. FLAUNT! is pure creative fun that does not require you to add more to your already overly busy lives. To the contrary, finding your inner burlesque star creates more space, grace and joy in both your professional and your personal life because, like cleaning out your closet, clearing the clutter makes it easier to see and appreciate the goodness that remains.
Plus, it’s fun! Creating a visual representation of your fears, insecurities and judgments keeps it fun and makes it easier to choose what to shed and what to keep. Burlesquing your life challenges you to remove your layers of judgment and protection, to face your fear of being naked, whether that nakedness is emotional, intellectual or physical, by saucily stripping away the coverings you are most afraid to lose and offering up your raw, authentic self, without apology. And to do it all, with a wink and a smile!
Are you ready for a burlesque dance party? Let’s FLAUNT!
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