“This week, your homework will be to stand in front of the mirror for five minutes, completely naked” she said to us as a class.
She continued, “Write down three thoughts you have, it can be anything as long as one of them is positive”. As Burlesque students, we were starting to be a little more open-minded over the past few classes so this was not surprising to be one of our homework assignments.
One of my favourite things about burlesque is the idea of learning to love and accept ourselves, as is, and work with what we have. The Mirror Stage Assignment felt like an uncomfortable and a risky attempt of self-love – at least for me at first. I eventually understood that it was a powerful way of facing our fears, vulnerability and insecurity. It was a perfect idea for all of us women who were there for a common goal – to love and accept our bodies.
The first few attempts were a disaster. I would stand there, awkwardly, looking at my face rather than my body, thinking about how I just want my hoodie and yoga pants on. Those articles of clothing don’t squish my love handles or restrict my arms from reaching all the way forward. They don’t make me aware of my size and shape. Needless to say, the Mirror Stage Assignment only lasted about 30 seconds before it was time to get comfortable again.
I gave it a few days as I knew I had to face the truth of how my body looks, at 27, even though I’m fully aware of the fact that I’m going to miss it in 20 years from now. I seem to always compare my current body to my 17-year-old body – the one I still hold on to and beat myself up about letting go of. Every. Single. Day.
I found my opportunity to give it a real attempt and I set my timer to five minutes, stripped down to nothing and awkwardly stood there, not really sure what to do.
A thousand thoughts ran through my head. I’m at the biggest I’ve ever been in my life – I was supposed to hate this. I had this whole idea in my head that I would break down and cry with realization that I had let it all go. And I did have those thoughts. I stewed on them for the first few minutes but then, something clicked – this is me, right now. I can choose to think all the bad things and imagine how much better I would look if there was a little less this and a little more that. Or, I can choose accept that this is me. What could I really do in that moment? Nothing, I had to accept that it was my body and this is what I’ve been given. So live in misery or work with what I have. This body moves and does all the things I need it to do. It’s healthy, curvy, and it’s mine. No one else looks like this so what else could I ask for?
A quote popped into my head that I had read on TinyBuddha.com
You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection
I don’t know it if was the combination of having this quote pop into my head or having a small note posted on my mirror that says “You Are Beautiful” but I felt like this was a good first step to self-love. I stopped avoiding and faced my fear and I came out alive.
I’m not saying it will be like this every time and I realize there is still a lot of work to do but I’m feeling okay about it. I had a moment of self acceptance and that small taste has left me wanting more. If nothing else, I’d say that alone was a success.