"The sexy thing I'm doing to get my groove back after having a baby."

Two significant life events occurred last year. 1). I had a baby. 2). I took up burlesque classes.

The baby came with nine months’ warning.

The burlesque was a spontaneous response to Significant Event Number One.

A friend invited me, sensing that a bout of sexy dancing might improve her body image.

‘Yes!’ I exclaimed. ‘Burlesque.’

Because, as much as I loved my baby, I too had a range of post-pregnancy issues that sexy dancing might solve.

Like getting out of the house alone.

Becoming a mother shrank my world. There are benefits to slowing down life but I do miss some things like netball, work (sometimes) and drinking too many margaritas on a Friday night. Now I spend a disproportionate amount of my day sitting on the lounge room floor with a small person. Dance class enables me to leave the house without my baby.

GROUP THERAPY: “Do I have post-baby blues or…….?”

As a first-time mother, there’s time to fill in: ‘free time’ structured around feeding and sleeping. I meet my new mother friends for coffee. This is not as simple as it sounds. Our babies need to be awake at the same time, and then there’s the actual leaving of the house with a baby. (They come with a lot of paraphernalia and have no sense of urgency.)

Burlesque is a weekly event where I can leave the house with just my phone, wallet and keys, and talk to an adult with all of my attention. There is no freedom like that of a mother without her child.

I want to move my body. And I want to reclaim it.


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Having a baby has changed the way I view my body. After the physical toll, I wanted to do something to remind myself that my body is mine. The most obvious way is walk towards a mirror like a cat and use my teeth to remove a glove.

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All bodies are welcomed at burlesque, with no unwritten rule about what’s sexy. Our dance teacher is fuller figured and has pink hair. I’m waif-like. Some women come in gym gear, others in leather or hot pants.

We follow our teacher’s direction: popping our hips forward (I didn’t think I had hips! But there they are!), shimmying our breasts (thank god mine are inflated with breast milk!).

We walk towards the mirror, leg over leg, dramatic and exaggerated. We stop suddenly on a climatic moment in the music, and pose like a 1950’s poster girl.

We bend over from the waist to touch our ankle and caress our leg up to our thigh, giggle from behind our hand and turn away, suddenly shy.

Burlesque is helping me see my body in a new way: flirty and fun. I never thought I could make my pale, skinny, freckled arm look sexy. As I write this in my boxer shorts and singlet stained with baby vomit, I realise I’m not Dita Von Teese yet. But the hour each week is a refreshing break from the baby cave.

As for my friend, the day after our first class, she received three compliments in the office. ‘You look great,’ her colleagues said. And the only variable, we can assume, was the sexiness in her step and the burlesque aura following her to the photocopier.

Kate Dorrell is a freelance writer and PR consultant. She’s interested in health, psychology, feminism and soft cheese. She lives in a tiny flat in Surry Hills with her husband and baby. (She’s in denial about needing to relocate to the suburbs.) She is slowly writing a novel, but can usually be found procrastinating on Twitter @KateDorrell.