I'm still performing burlesque at almost eight-months pregnant

June 20 2013 | Guest post by ChaeBird
Photos by Jessica Turner.

I perform under the stage name "Knitty van Tassle" as part of the body-positive Pasties and Paddles Burlesque troupe in Spokane, Washington. We've performed at many venues in town, including The Knitting Factory, but our current home is at Club 412. Our shows usually have themes like "Geekgasm" and "Fetish 101."

We had a wildly successful show this past weekend. The club was packed and the crowd was very enthusiastic and responsive, which was fantastic. This show was an anything-goes type of affair, and included fire dancers, hoopers, roller derby, and oil wrestling, in addition to burlesque. I'd spent the last month wavering between being very excited about my two solos, and being very scared about how exposed I was going to be up there. Normally when I perform, I leave a waist cincher on because of body issues.

There's no cinching in a seven-and-a-half months pregnant belly.

There have been other women in our troupe who have performed while pregnant, and I consulted with pregnant performers from other troupes, like Eva Mae Garnet from Drop Dead Dames in San Diego, who had some wonderful advice.

So I went out there, on stage, in all my pregnant belly glory.

I was worried that the crowd wouldn't be receptive to a heavily pregnant woman on stage, so I pretty much locked eyes with my friend Jewels in the front row and performed just for her (it was her wedding/birthday show, after all).

I needn't have worried. The crowd went just as wild for me as it did for the other women and men in the show. Apparently, during my first solo, Mr. Bear (who runs sound and lights for the show) was pointing at me and excitedly telling the audience "That's my wife! That's my wife!" Which is adorable. I love him.

I'm very glad I decided to perform at this stage in my pregnancy, though it was incredibly exhausting for me. Being pregnant has been a very humbling experience for me. The body I used to have, and had all sorts of body image issues with, is gone, and it's not coming back. Which is freeing, as all those issues are now a moot point. I have a new body now, and after I have this baby, I'll have other issues to contend with. It's like getting a fresh start, and I'm taking advantage of it by getting used to my new skin and celebrating it.

    • Thank you! When I told my midwife about the show, she demanded to see pics and thought they were awesome. And said she'd never seen anyone bedazzle their maternity underwear before…

  1. You do look flipping gorgeous! And I really want that bra although I've never really been that into gold πŸ™‚

    Thank you for this, although I don't think I'd have the courage for burlesque you've definitely made me consider more curve-friendly dance classes… maybe belly dancing. Being in early pregnancy it could be awesome – thank you πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! πŸ˜€ I had such a blast.
      I definitely recommend dancing, it's such a great way to reconnect with your body. We tend to cut ourselves up in our minds; "problem areas", cover this/enhance that. Burlesque forces you to accept your entire body. I've not belly danced, but several of the women in our troupe have, and while pregnant, and have said the same thing. I hope you do try it!

      Also, the bra: You can totes make one! It's literally a yellow bra with yellow and orange rhinestones glued to it. I recommend E6000, because it's flexible and washable, but hot glue works, too. Making the costumes is part of the fun of burlesque and belly dancing! Big group of ladies sitting around someone's living room, making pasties. πŸ˜€

  2. Wow! Lookin good mama!

    If I were to look at these pictures for the first time without the background info though, I would have never guessed that you were pregnant. On the other hand, I do find baby bumps to be quite attractive, if not at times sexy. πŸ˜‰

    With that said, rock on da bump!

    • Thank you. It's much more obvious from the side, I'm 4'11", so it really has nowhere to go but straight out. :p And in the month since the show, I've gotten the pregnancy edema pretty bad and I'm all puffy, which is kind of hilarious! I'm glad I got to perform when I did.

    • Thanks! It was a super-positive experience, and it's been kind of awesome as more pictures have popped up on facebook, and people I don't even know have commented that these were they're favorite performances of the night. It makes me feel very good that people in my hometown are so positive about pregnant bodies and women taking charge of their body image and sexuality.

  3. Erochica Bamboo & Whisper De Corvo also performed while pregnant! and as I can attest (my mom is Paula the Swedish Housewife) there are LOTS of burlesque mamas out there!

    Shimmy and shake that pregnant body – you look fantastic!

  4. "The body I used to have, and had all sorts of body image issues with, is gone, and it's not coming back."

    Amazing! As a VERY overweight nine months pregnant lady, this is great to read. I've been thinking a lot lately about what I'll do after the baby is born. I know this is totally off topic, but I'm just glad to have read this post and reading that one line really was freeing. I hope to end up in much better shape than I was in before, but at the very least, that body is gone and that is freeing.

    You rule.

    • I'm glad you found my post helpful. I started out pretty overweight when I conceived(4'11" and 170lbs), and I also hope to get into better shape after the baby is born than I was in before we got pregnant. In the meantime, though, it really is liberating letting go of that old body and instead thinking about my new one that has created life going forward.

      • I was very overweight at the beginning of my pregnancy and had to work hard to maintain weight instead of gaining (at recommendation of my doctor and midwives). That statement was so true for me as well, and even truer post pregnancy. I still do have some body anxiety, but not in the same ways at all. Altho I wasn't doing burlesque while pregnant (but that is SO AWESOME), this article runs true for me in so many ways.

        I will say that I was worried about being able to get into better shape post pregnancy, but I'm finding myself much better motivated now, and better able to go at things from a healthier mental perspective. I hope you both continue to have similar experiences! Pregnancy really was such a humbling experience for me too, and I've learned so much about myself and my body. Thank you for such an authenticly written article, it really resonated with me.

  5. I don't know you but I am proud of you. I don't know ow else to explain my reaction. I felt my most beautiful and sexy at the point in my pregnancy and wish I had had a chance to revel in it like that.

    • Aw, thank you. πŸ™‚ I feel very very fortunate to have had the opportunity to really celebrate my pregnant body this way. I've had my own issues with this pregnant body, but at times I definitely feel more comfortable in my skin and more confident than I ever had before. There's no hiding anything when you're pregnant, so you kinda have to just be unapologetic about your figure, which can be very unfamiliar for women in such an image-driven society.

  6. I love it! Sooo disappointed that there wasn't video. I modeled lingerie in a fashion show when I was very pregnant. I was the only pregnant woman so I was surrounded by gorgeous waifs. I couldn't believe how many men came back stage to tell me how sexy they thought I was. It just goes to show, only women think super thin is hot. I have two kids and teach pole dance now and blog about it (and other things) vivblogs.com

    • Hopefully there will be video at some point. I know the entire show was filmed.
      We have some very thin ladies in our troop, also, and they are very sexy and popular with the crowd as well. Different strokes and all that. We aim to offer something for everyone. πŸ™‚

  7. You are so awesome!!! Seriously, it shows how beautiful the preggers body is. =)

    I have to admit, burlesque dancing is so empowering. I started it about 4 months ago with a group of friends and I loved it! Something about feeling sexy while acting confident (which, I'm usually not confident…. definitely helped boost my confidence levels). I totally recommend burlesque classes to the various Offbeat Homies out there.

    • Oh my, yes, if you're lucky enough to live in an area that has burlesque classes, TAKE THEM! I'm so envious of my friends who have gotten to do classes and workshops. I've never had the opportunity, sadly. :/

  8. OH MY! You are gorgeous, and I'm thrilled that you wrote this. I am 6 months pregnant, and what you said about your pre-pregnancy body (and attendant issues) going away and never coming back makes so much sense. The old criticisms were like an abusive partner–toxic, but familiar. And I've had this funny feeling since being bigger with the pregnancy, and now that I read what you wrote I realized what that funny feeling is: I don't hear those nasty criticisms in my head anymore! I love the idea of saying goodbye to the issues I had (unfortunately) attached to my pre-mother body. What a healing possibility– so much better than the fear/disgust that mothers are taught to feel by the dominant media. Lovely post and ideas. Thank you!

    • I've noticed the same thing, those critical internal voices are much quieter these days. I still catch glimpses of myself in reflective windows and places and sometimes have that knee-jerk "I'm so BIG!" moment, but for the vast majority of the time, I don't think about my size. I'm much more focused on my mobility and comfort. πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you! I'm glad you feel inspired!
      I delivered my daughter two weeks ago, and I'm already planning an act for the next show. πŸ˜€

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