KD: Welcome, Delores! It’s such a treat to have you back on A Hopeful Romantic, and discussing such an exciting topic. Could you tell us what inspired you to begin a course on Body Confidence.
DD: I have been working on the cabaret and burlesque scene for nearly 10 years and have been teaching burlesque for about 5 years. I found during the regular burlesque classes that a lot of women felt unhappy or uncomfortable with their bodies and would often want to chat about this as part of the class. I felt that they were almost looking for permission to be open about their insecurities. I decided then I would create a new class with a focus on this and encouraging positive body image.
I’ve been sitting on this class for quite a while and haven’t really had time to follow it up but a change in my career situation recently has meant I’m now able to put all my energy into it, which is really exciting and challenging.
KD: What do you see as the main cause for women’s over-all lack of body confidence?
DD: I think there are many causes – I’m sure that many people have long-term deep-seated issues with their bodies that a couple of hours in a workshop won’t be able to address – I am not a psychologist! On a more general level, I do think the media has set a very unrealistic ‘body ideal’ for most women with their airbrushed and enhanced images on every magazine.
While I can understand that fashion magazines do, and have done this for years, my real issue is with the newer celebrity magazines where we see women berated on the front cover for having lost or gained weight, wearing unflattering clothes or nipping out without make-up. This sets a really dangerous example and puts enormous pressure on all women, particularly younger girls who feel they have to look a certain way to be accepted.
KD: Do you think women’s attitudes toward their bodies are getting better or worse with all of the interconnectedness of the internet and social media?
DD: I think the internet can have a positive influence in that it encourages discussion and can offer a wonderful support network, however, it does give EVERYONE a voice and opinion and some of these can be deeply damaging and negative. I think the benefits outweigh the cons though – just keep away from the nasties!
KD: Could you tell us a bit about your own journey to body confidence, Delores.
DD: I trained and worked as an actor for many years before I moved into cabaret. I suspect anyone who has trained in a professional performing arts establishment and worked in that industry will at some point have felt pressure about their body and image, especially in dance and musical theatre. I powered through but being told outright you’re too tall, too big or not pretty enough for something does have an effect regardless of the training you go through to deal with personal rejection. Moving into burlesque made a huge difference to my self-confidence and I finally felt that I was being judged on my performance abilities and skills rather than ‘looking right for a part’. Also the style element was something that I got right into immediately! I loved the clothes and the lingerie and it really helped me find my individual style, sourcing items for which, is now one of my greatest passions and pleasures!
KD: What do you think is most detrimental to our body confidence?
DD: I think there many factors and everyone might feel differently. Some people have had negative influences in their early years, which are very hard to shake and reprogramme. Other people judge themselves too harshly and are constantly comparing themselves to others, which I think is really pointless. We are all unique and individual and need to try to focus on the positive rather than what we feel we are lacking.
KD: Why do you suppose body confidence issues are much more common among women than men? Why are men more comfortable in their bodies, no matter what they look like?
DD: I don’t think that’s true….. I think they are maybe just less vocal about it!
KD: Pop culture, airbrush mag covers and cosmetic surgery readily available for a price can take their toll on any woman’s body confidence. How can we combat that influence when we’re surrounded by it every day?
DD: We need to look at reality – what do you actually find attractive? There are so many beautiful women who don’t conform to standard or media ideals who look amazing. Being body shape aware and understanding how to dress for your body shape can make you feel like a million dollars!
I think surgery is a different issue – if someone is really unhappy and wants to change themselves with plastic surgery then they should feel free to do so for themselves but not because they feel they are expected to look a certain way.
KD: In the burlesque performances I’ve seen, I notice that there are women of all body sizes and shapes, and the confidence and sensuality all of these women exude on stage is amazing. Why, and how, does burlesque helps build body confidence?
DD: Burlesque is a feminine art form and, in its resurgence, is predominantly run by women which gives us control over what we create and what we want to see. Creating a routine and a character is a very personal thing and a great deal of ourselves and personalities go into it, which makes each performer unique. I believe that once we stop comparing ourselves to others then we can really begin to feel happier, more comfortable and positive in our own skins.
The classic burlesque style is also very flattering to all body shapes – the corsets which come in all styles, sizes and shapes mould perfectly to the individual body and enhance curves (if you have them) or create them (if you don’t) Hours of work and hundreds of pounds go into costuming so they have to make you feel amazing and ready to va va voom!
KD: How much does our attitude toward our bodies influence the other areas of our lives?
DD: I think any negativity can have a massive impact on our happiness and self-esteem, which then can influence the way we see ourselves and how we set our ambitions and our expectations. If we don’t treat ourselves with respect then it’s very easy to let this affect our careers, relationship and personal goals.
KD: If you could give one piece of advice to help women be more comfortable in their own skin, what would it be?
DD: Come to my class!!! Ha ha! Just give yourselves a break, girls! Focus on the things you do like and remember there is so much more to attractiveness than having your ideal body or perfect face. I also advocate surrounding yourself with a crack team of amazing friends – good for keeping body and soul together in times of trouble!
KD: Tell us a bit about the Body Confidence classes. When are they available? Where? Who can participate? How can we sign up?
DD: The class is a 90 minute workshop – it’s very nurturing, gentle and quite good fun! We’ll be focussing on looking at our bodies in a positive light and challenging the issues that hold us back from feeling like the goddesses we are!
The classes are every Saturday in Angel at:
The Joker of Penton Street
58 Penton Street
Class times are 11am 1pm and 3pm
About Delores Deluxe
Delores Deluxe started out her cabaret career under a railway arch in Bermondsey in 2005 in the original line up of The Kitten Club. She is an established performer, programmer and promoter on the London burlesque and cabaret scene as well as founder and leader of London’s longest running troupe, The Kitten Club Cabaret which have been performing around London for 9 years. Having a 10 year background in classical acting and musical theatre, she was delighted to stumble into the emerging burlesque scene in London in 2005 and to put her skills to an exciting new use. Delores is also now enjoying working as a soloist on the cabaret and variety circuit with her comedy magic tricks and can generally be found wearing something polka dot!