What is MY favourite body part?

monique aislabie

I haven’t written anything in a while and I feel like it’s time to get back on that keyboard and tap out some of the stuff that has been rattling around in my head. So here we goooo…

During one of my Burlesque workshops recently there was a section where I ask my students to choose their favourite body part. At the end of this section one of my students turned to me and said “Lady Lou what is your favourite body part?” Ha! I actually didn’t think about it (I love it when my students turn my teaching around on me!). After I had chosen my favourite body part and completed the task, something interesting happened that I wasn’t expecting. I found myself questioning my choice and asking – Is this really MY favourite body part? Or did I choose this body part because in the past someone I care about told me that’s what THEY like about my body. So it’s not that I’m in love with that particular part, what I’m actually in love with is the way it felt to receive that compliment, so I too love that part of me.
I sat with this feeling and mulled it over for some weeks, trying to work out why this thought made me so uncomfortable.
Here’s what I came up with…

During my workshops I often notice that a lot of women (including myself) see their bodies through the eyes of someone else. What we see in the mirror is not simply our reflection but instead.. we see the information that has been collected over our life time about how others view, react or treat our bodies – positive and negative. There is also this underlying feeling that we are not really beautiful or sexy until someone else gives us the information/confirmation that this is so. A bit like the theory “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”. This confirmation can come in verbal or physical forms and now with the increasing popularity of social media it also comes in a digital form. When we get this positive confirmation it feels amazing! We get a wonderful confidence boost that can put us on a fabulous high for days.

But on the flip side… If we don’t get the confirmation we are searching for or worse we receive negative information about our bodies or appearance. We hold on to this and store it into our closet of shadows, and in some cases carry it with us forever. Over time the amount of self loathing and insecurities these shadows create sadly outweighs the temporary highs and confidence boosts of positive confirmation. So this positive confirmation becomes almost like a drug, we crave it, we find it, we feel it, but when it fades the shadows creep in and the come down is too awful, and so the process repeats. I guess the difference here is being able to receive positive confirmation as a nice “bonus” rather than something that is essential to making us who we are and without it we feel worthless.

Why do we give so much of our power away by placing our self-worth into the hands of others? Some of the reasons could be because the system has been set up so women depend heavily on the industry to tell us what is beautiful or sexy and how we can achieve it. Our bodies are regularly put forward for discussion without our consent or even relevance to the topic at hand. In advertising they still use us as “things” and objects to be used for their own amusement, and at the same time feeding us with unrealistic unachievable beauty ideals. Then when a woman does take ownership of her body she is judged and shamed for it. Lets not forget that typical mainstream Hollywood narrative which is like a tiresome broken record still spitting out the same script where confident or even curvy women are portrayed as either crazy, bossy, out of control or just a bit too much. And it’s the pretty, slightly insecure, and mediocre in everything she does kind of woman who always finds someone (usually a man) that shows her how amazing and extraordinary she is and they fall love leading to the happily ever after. Blahh🤢 Can someone please pass me a bucket and throw that goddamn broken record in the bin where it belongs! Unfortunately there are many more reasons I can think of, but I don’t have the time to list all of them in this piece (but I’m sure you get the idea).

So how do we find our own internal source of self-worth, which enables us to refill our own cup with positive confirmation that we are beautiful or sexy? Firstly I am by no means an expert on how all woman can do this, because to tell you the truth I’m still searching for the answers myself. But I have come a very long way from the insecure woman I once was, and I am a strong believer in the power of women sharing their stories! So I will try to write some of “my story” where I can speak from my experience and maybe you can find parallels in yours. BUT I have to go and pick my son up from Kita now so I can’t start it today 😂 BUT I here by commit to setting aside one day per week over the next months to write at least a couple of paragraphs about “my story”. Watch this space – to be continued 😘

Lady Lou – Broken Mirror.  Photo by: Carsten Schluze