I was in a car accident a few years ago in which my shoulder was very badly injured. After the operation, in which a metal pin was inserted, I was left with a really big scar. Because it is still really painful most of the time, going to gym to keep active wasn’t an option for me. Besides, I’m a real doll, so can’t be wearing gym clothes and sweating like a pig just to keep fit. After I saw the movie Burlesque, I decided that doing burlesque dancing would be a really elegant and sexy way for me to keep fit.
I found out about this dance company called Rogue Revue Burlesque Company and decided to give a go. I was a bit nervous, but my first class was amazing. It was such a safe, inclusive space – inclusive of women of all shapes and sizes. I didn’t feel conscious of my saggy boobs, my cellulite and stretch marks. I felt really sexy.
When the time for our first studio show came up, I was so nervous stepping out in front of an audience – especially because of this scar on my shoulder. But, you know, my fellow dancers were so encouraging. They were telling me how beautiful my scar is; how every scar tells a story and that the fact that the scar is there, showed my strength as a woman – a woman who has survived.
After a lot of nerves and inner conflict, I stepped onto that stage and did my thing, stripping down to only my nipple caps. It was amazing: the cheering of the audience and the support of the dancers. Also, just seeing how much fun the other dancers were having on stage; how happy and beautiful they looked – despite what people might see as flaws. It was such a liberating experience, feeling confident and sexy in my own skin for the first time … ever.
Tamlynne Thompson, 28, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail&Guardian