plus-size

I’m No Angel, But Is Plus Equal?

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the Lane Bryant ad circulating on social media.

#ImNoAngel

#PlusIsEqual

And while the message of plus acceptance is something I have rallied behind for the past decade, this morning I had a hard time associating myself as one of these women.

I watch the glamazons in the Plus Is Equal campaign and admire both their bravery and beauty as they strut their stuff in national ad campaign for the largest plus-size retailer, Lane Bryant. They are each gorgeous, flawless and idols to women of a larger size like myself.

So this morning when my boyfriend complimented my body, I had a knee-jerk reaction of shrugging him off. It’s especially fitting since today I’m dressed from head to toe in Lane Bryant fashion items. From my bra and boyshorts by Cacique to my Lane Bryant-branded pencil skirt, tank and half-sleeve jacket, I’m a walking billboard. Today, I’m feeling casually elegant, super confident and a bit naughty.

So why shrug him off?

Good question.

Why is it so hard for me to take a compliment?

I’m sure all women have this issue. We become obsessed by parts of our body that we don’t feel are adequate enough, and we project all our negativity toward ourselves. For me, size has always been my concern. I target hate toward my arms and my stomach. So I was instantaneously forced to look and ask myself why I couldn’t see my own body in the same light that I saw the “Plus Is Equal” campaign woman.

For all we want to post on social media about self-acceptance, it’s easy to fall back into centuries old body shaming practices. We’ve been raised to sit up straight, project our chest, whittle down our waists, plump our lips, shave our unwanted hair, grown our head hair long and luxurious, wear heels to elongate our legs…and blah, blah, blah. There are so many expectations on our appearance that it’s easy to fall into self-sabotage comparing ourselves to these widely accepted, often contradicting, standards.

No matter how many memes we post, no matter how many compliments we get, no matter what our level of self-confidence seems to be…the one thing we can count on is that ALL women harbor the same kinds of doubts about themselves. It’s an unspoken rule.

So what are the rules to accepting ourselves with so many lingering self-doubts?

According to NEMA (National Eating Disorders Association), there are 10 tips for body acceptance.

  1. Appreciate all that your body can do.  Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams.  Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
  2. Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like.  Read your list often.  Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep.  When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel.  Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person.  When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts.  See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.  It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person.  You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones.  The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body.  Work with your body, not against it.
  8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.  Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body.  Protest these messages:  write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message
  9. Do something nice for yourself–something that lets your body know you appreciate it.  Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
  10. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others.  Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.

And while these all seem well and good, they are each a monsoon of emotional baggage for most women. Today I battled with #4 but any given day…

Which of these do you battle with most on a daily basis?

INTERVIEW: Lady Monster

Lady Monster

Official Website: http://www.ladymonster.com

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I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of sharing the stage with her talent and beauty.  Libidacoria Magazine is proud to present this interview with Lady Monster, a woman with seemingly no limits.

What do you do:

burlesque performer, a Satan’s Angel-sanctioned Queen of the Fire Tassels, producer, co-founder of The Columbus Burlesque Collective, syndicated sex advice columnist, performance artist, actress, model, radio DJ, recording artist, workshop facilitator, and voted as one of the Top 100 Burlesque Performers in the World by her peers in the 2010 21st Century Magazine poll.

How did you find yourself here?  What’s your story?

I used to perform a striptease to my stuffed animals when getting ready for bed– undressing from my regular clothes into my pajamas. I turned it into a performance, and I was maybe 10 years old. It’s just come naturally to me.

I was a known sexual performance artist in town and told about a new burlesque troupe starting in Columbus, Ohio (1999) – Miss Kitty’s Hot Box. I was told secondhand that I had to have dance training and fit into a certain size of costuming. I believed it and didn’t pursue it.

When I moved to San Francisco in 2001, I found out about the Big Burlesque/Fat-Bottom Revue troupe in 2004. They were the first all plus-size touring burlesque troupe. I started going to all of their shows, talking to their performers, asking to audition and learning the art of burlesque. One of their dancers told me, “You’re not big enough to be part of our troupe.” I continued to pursue them though and finally talked to the troupe leader. She asked, “How do you identify?” I said, “Voluptuous, thick”.  She responded that I should audition when they decide to bring in new members. I waited on pins and needles for that day. Finally in May 2005, I performed burlesque in front of an audience for the first time. Heather MacAllister, the director and founder of the troupe had Stage IV Ovarian Cancer. She eventually succumbed in 2007, disbanding the troupe in 2006. I continued as a solo performer.

What was your moment—the moment you realized you “made” it?

Seeing that Al Jourgensen made one of my poems a song, a really kick-ass song, and put it on the Revolting Cocks album, Cocked and Loaded. I received the CD in the mail, from him personally. He asked to record me reading some of my poetry. I didn’t go to a recording studio, we did it right through the landline at Jello Biafra’s house. I started listening to the CD to see how/if he used any of my lines of poetry within the tracks. Then I see it on the track listing, Revolting Cock Au Lait. He asked me to read my poem/punk rock song, Cock Au Lait with Revolting tacked on. I did, and he had to stifle his laughter. I’ll never forget hearing him bust up as soon as I finished reading it. When I heard that song on the CD, saw my name listed on the credits, I cried, screamed, jumped up and down, turned it up loud, danced, cried, screamed…

Lady MonsterWhat’s your sexiest turn-on?

Teasing. I love it. Performing burlesque turns me on.

Are all men as sex-crazed as we think?

I have a stronger sex drive than any man I’ve ever met. No one has yet been able to keep up with me.

 Are women as sexually graphic as men in your experience?

More so.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Music, art and other performers and artists.

What makes a good story?

Cohesion, paying attention to the elements of the story, build-up, and bringing all your element together for a conclusion.

What’s your cure for creative blockage?

Being social. I’m an extrovert and am my most creative when surrounded by others’ energy.

Have you embraced technology or are you still a pen and paper writer?

I love pen and paper. I am much more creative when sitting down in the dark somewhere, scribbling out my deepest thoughts, not worrying about writing it straight or legibly, just needing to get it out. I also love technology and learning new ways to incorporate it into my acts.

What 3 people have influenced you most?  Why?

Don Pavelcik, Jello Biafra, Satan’s Angel

Don Pavelcik was my partner in crime with our regular event, Circus of Cool. He gathered jazz musicians and produced the show. I gathered poets. Together, we read poetry to the Beat. He called me The Feminist of All Feminists. Don believed in me, encouraged me, and put me high on a pedestal. He loved me and helped me grow in many ways. He was called “The Pope” because he was a mentor to a lot of people. I was going to stop being a performer all together, but he brought Lady Monster back to life in 1995.

I met Jello Biafra in Chicago in 1999. We started dating the next year. I moved in with him in 2001. We broke up in 2006. During that time, I did a lot of work for him, researching articles and news stories, transcribing performances being used for his spoken word albums and more. He was my first burlesque coach. He has a vast collection of Something Weird videos, and we watched the Tease-A-Rama tapes. Jello also has an enormous, world-class vinyl record collection. He poured through it, finding cool burlesque-y music for me to use in a routine. When we found a song, he’d begin dancing and performing a striptease, showing me what to do. He has a theater background and so many years of performing onstage singing for the Dead Kennedys, acting out the lyrics to his songs. I was continually learning new things from him and cherish that special time in my life with him. We continue to be good friends.

When I joined the Fat-Bottom Revue/Big Burlesque troupe, I was given history lessons. Heather told about Satan’s Angel and her fire tassels. I saw her perform this act at Tease-O-Rama in October 2005. I screamed and was floored by her presence. We met, but she wouldn’t remember me until spending time together at Miss Exotic World in 2007. She taught me how to twirl fire tassels in her home in Palm Springs in 2008. I traveled to her for the privilege. It took less than a half an hour. She said I was a natural and crowned me A Queen of the Fire Tassels. As soon as I left her home, I cried on the drive back to the airport. I knew my life was forever changed. Who knew that at age 39 I would find my given talent?

She and I became fast friends and soon were talking a few days a week on the phone for long periods of time. Angel mentored me, and I became her protege – The Spawn of Satan’s Angel. Even in 2007, before she and I got to know one another, I had other performers telling me I was channeling Angel onstage, that I looked and moved just like her. It seems no matter what I do, it comes off looking like a tribute to her.

I am honored that people are so moved by my performances to provide such high praise.

Any awkward moments where people recognize you?

Never awkward. I love my fans. I wouldn’t be a performer without people that appreciate my performances.

If you could go back, would you do it again or take another path?  And what would that look like you think?

There are things that I would do differently as a burlesque performer.  I have gotten caught up in others’ drama, and I wish I’d stayed out of it. I advise anyone who is a performer to keep it positive. Respect fellow performers. Never listen to gossip or shit-talk. Stay out of drama. Never create drama. All of your fellow burlesquers are your family. Respect and love them for sharing the love of the art and perpetuating it. For those that decide to start rumors, talk negative or create a negative vibe, I am staying away from you (and so will most others in the burlesque community).

Worst assumptions made about you based on what you do?

If someone makes a poor assumption, I’m there to educate them. Some people feel that it’s wrong for me to perform burlesque at my age and my size. They obviously don’t know what burlesque is, and that it has no limits regarding age, size, gender. The one thing that keeps it burlesque is the tease. It is the Art of the Strip Tease, after all. Being an example and inspiration to others that are older and bigger in size has meant a great deal to me.

 

Check out Lady Monster’s appearance at the 2013 Texas Burlesque Festival here:

 

And check out her YouTube channel to catch even more of her performances.

 

IFYou can find out more about Lady Monster by visiting her official website at www.ladymonster.com, her facebook page, or you can also find her on Twitter.

Planning a visit to Columbus?  Find out more about The Columbus Burlesque Collective,  by visiting their site here.