'The surprising way I put a rocket up my self-confidence'

Miss Riss-Kay






I’ve been battling my own self-esteem issues for as long as I remember and never anticipated that the key to improving my confidence was, in fact, taking my clothes off – wait for it – on stage.

I’m not saying I’ve bared all for an audience and for the record, I haven’t even come close to sharing my white tush and front bush with strangers. What I’m talking about are benefits of learning the art of burlesque striptease (not “stripping”) and, importantly, accessing its supportive sisterhood.

Unlike pole dancing, you don’t have to work hard at it to feel sexy. You don’t even have to reveal any flesh or perform in front of an audience if it makes you uncomfortable.

The core skill of burlesque is simply the ability to identify and playfully accentuate your most feminine features through a combination of basic hand and eye movements, as well as a number of classic shapes and poses.

It’s up to you to bring these movements to life in any way you want, whether you decide to mimic the classic style of Dita Von Teese or develop an original, cheeky act to your favourite Queens of the Stone Age song.

I understand the idea of striptease remains daunting for many women. Especially in front of an audience.

As an anxious mid-level professional, I had several doubts about launching my weekly burlesque hobby into the public arena. Firstly, my weight fluctuated as much as the tides were rising and falling. I had lumps and bumps that I was never comfortable with revealing.


But the other issue was that my colleagues and clients operated throughout the area and I didn’t want my professional and personal spheres to collide.

Despite these concerns, I was captivated by other witty and creative performers, as well as the glitter and rhinestones involved in shows! (Picture Christina Aguilera’s stunning costumes in the ‘Burlesque’ movie.) Women of all shapes and sizes transformed into vintage beauties and they had fun on stage teasing the audience. I envied their confidence and I wanted more.

Over the next six months, I rehearsed the most flattering moves for my body, in addition to investing in red lipstick, eyeliner, high heels and a few items of lingerie that I loved. I also created a show name and felt as if I was a child again playing dress-ups.

After completing my very first burlesque show, I felt liberated, proud and beautiful. I signed up for another show.

Being confident in your body and showing off your best features is important to burlesque. It has helped me to realise that I’ve got cellulite and muffin tops, but I’ve also got breasts that other women envy. It’s about time I forgot about my flaws and appreciated all of the things about myself and my body that are fabulous.


Miss Riss-Kay is a public relations professional by day and a beginner burlesque dancer after hours.