1950s · body confidence · body positivity · vintage fashion

B is for burlesque and body confidence – the A-Z of a vintage girl in a modern world

Earlier this week, I headed out to An Evening of Cabaret with Folly Mixtures and Friends, and had a whale of a time. The host was Delores Deluxe, who was an absolute riot – she sang, did magic tricks, and was a general hoot and a half. In between the Folly Mixtures’ performances, which were of course, awesome – involving balloons, welding irons, feathers, estate agent signs and a whole lot of hula hoops – we were treated to psychic comedian Peter Antoniou, where I laughed so hard I snorted, twice. It was a good look. And musical entertainment came from the lovely Briar Rouge, and the hilarious Eliot Mason (I’ve never heard a song about corporate branding before, but that one is now firmly imprinted on my memory). I’ve borrowed a few photos from the Facebook event to give you a flavour of the event – the costumes, just look at the costumes!:

If you missed out this time around, never fear – they’re hosting another one! Put the date in your diaries; 6 July 2016.

As I watched the show, I remembered my own timid steps into burlesque – I went along to the classes, but declined any opportunity to perform in public. (My lovely mum likes to be supportive in everything I do, and I knew she’d feel like she had to come along. To be frank, it was somewhere I didn’t feel our relationship needed to go).

The classes were a massive confidence boost, and I think that was the start of me beginning to feel more comfortable in my own skin. My teacher, Coeur de Plume, was great at making sure everyone in the class felt comfortable and confident in what they were doing, and luckily for me, I carried it with me in my everyday life too.

As well as burlesque, the other big step in learning to love the way I look was getting out of jeans and getting into vintage fashion. I know it’s not for everyone, but my confidence rockets when I’m wearing a 50’s style dress. They flatter my shape, they’re glamorous and a lot of fun, and I don’t think I could go back to wearing jeans and jumpers every day. Even if I do get funny looks when I pop into Tesco festooned with hair flowers. Once upon a time, I would have cringed at the thought of people looking at my clothes, my hair and my body and finding me wanting. Now, I give them a big grin and say hi. It’s amazing how many friends you make that way!

I know I’ve talked about this before, but the older I get, the more important I realise it is to be comfortable in your own skin.  I spent so many years assuming that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough or skinny enough, and I wish I hadn’t. While I was at university, someone once asked me what I’d change about myself if I could, and I was still listing things five minutes later. How sad is that? To be so insecure and unhappy that you’d change almost everything about yourself in an instant.

More recently, you may know I got married (if you’ve recently discovered my blog, hi there, welcome, and please feel free to read back over the last year’s worth of posts). I came through it feeling pretty darn good about the whole experience, rather than hating myself because I wasn’t a size 8 (a size I have never been, nor am never likely to be), and didn’t spend the run up eating carrots and spending whole weekends in spin class. This is not to criticise brides who are a size 8 on their wedding day, through choice or design – it’s just to say that I’m proud of how far I’ve come, from wanting to change everything about myself on an average Tuesday, to being comfortable in my skin on what is arguably, one of the most photographed days of my life.

I’ve been a few different sizes since I started dressing in ‘4os and ’50s inspired outfits – none of them as small as I was when I really hated how I looked – and I can honestly say that I’ve felt beautiful, confident and like I could take on the world. And this is something that I hear a lot from my friends who dress in vintage (or vintage inspired) outfits too. One of them, the fabulous Secret Plus Size Goddess, articulates this much better than I do, in her post The Rise of Vintage in a Plus Size World. She talks about how more companies are embracing vintage style clothing in their plus size ranges, and it’s a great read. Fair warning though, reading it will give you serious wardrobe envy.

And of course, the wonderful Miss Evelyn Jo has a whole section on her blog about body positivity. I love this post about encouraging everyone to be body positive, especially this paragraph:

“Body positivity is not about shaming another person’s body to validate your own, it is about accepting your own body and encouraging others to love theirs. Body confidence covers size, shape, being tattooed, being pierced, having scars or a disability and being comfortable to be yourself, wear what you want and being able to “love your body” for what it is.”

For me, with six tattoos, piercings all the way up my ears, short, chubby, with a giant scar across my side (I was born with two and a half kidneys, so had the extra bit whipped out when I was younger), it took me almost 3o years to love my body for what it is. And I’m so glad I did.

Here’s me on my 23rd birthday (my sister’s 21st was the day before, hence the balloon). I look at this photo now and remember how upset I was that the jacket was a size 14, not a 12.


And here’s me at my hen party earlier this year, where I didn’t care what size was on the label, because I was so freaking excited that I was at my hen party, WEARING A DOCTOR WHO DRESS:



And finally, a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who has voted for me so far in the Miss Vintage UK competition – I’ve gotten over 300 likes and I am so, so grateful. You are all ace and fab.

Now for the sales spiel (sorry about that). If you haven’t already voted, please could you take a second to click on this link and like the photo? It would mean an awful lot to me to get through to the judges’ round! https://www.facebook.com/twinwoodevents/photos/a.10153363505802657.1073741846.30797112656/10153363506167657/?type=3&theater



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