top of page

On Motherhood, Burlesque, & Self-Worth


I was 2 months pregnant in this photo! My first burlesque photo shoot.

It's International Women's Day, and I'm tired.


As a woman and an artist, I ask... who am I if I'm not proving my worth to anyone and everyone?


Who am I if I am not at all the festivals, all the gigs, all the promo opportunities? Who am I if I'm not consistently posting on social media and staying "relevant" and "engaged" and "marketable"?


Who am I if I have other important things going on in my life? Some of you guys know I'm currently a single mom. My life is full of bills and appointments and school and work and therapists and meetings and special needs advocacy and *tight* financial budgets. I live with an extreme, almost debilitating level of stress and anxiety and worry that sometimes stops me dead in my tracks from doing anything at all other than being a mom.


So who am I when I can't keep *giving*, can't keep *up*?


And who am I if, on some days, it's all too much for me to handle? Who am I if I can only handle being a mother sometimes, and nothing else at all? Am I still worthy? Valuable? Beautiful? Or do I just f cease to exist -- poof! A ghost of burlesque-social-media past. I think about this a lot with Bettie Page, and her intense desire to disappear. I never understood before, but now I do.


Without going too deep into details (feel free to DM me anytime, I will spill my guts to you), I feel that this is all connected to being a woman but also to being a single mother. Society loves to penalize women for deciding to raise kids, for whatever reason, without a consistent male presence in the home. Does it matter if the woman is being abused or belittled or harmed? Or if she is still the primary caretaker doing everything, even if she lives with a male partner? Nope, none of that matters -- if she escapes him, she will escape into a new and different kind of hell, at times. To society, what matters the most after her escape is punishing the mother who dares to be alone, usually by taking away all support systems and reinforcing social isolation. We know this, because if society actually cared about children, we'd literally live in a completely different world. We know this because society actively invests in keeping mothers stressed, vulnerable, disadvantaged, and beaten down -- which then makes it much easier to strip us of rights and privileges and hell maybe even our humanity, while we're at it.


And when I say society, I still include burlesque and sex(y) work which can very often mimic toxic mainstream structures. I very often feel judged and belittled by some performers for choosing to have a kid, and then having the audacity to say that my life is not perfect. From whatever perspective, I get the feeling that I'm not allowed to say anything at all, lest it be taken as a complaint.


I am working on changing this, as I realize that I can cultivate the environment I want to live in (to some extent). I am working on defining my life as a young mother on my own terms. I am working on blowing everybody's mind, on breaking all the glass ceilings, on living my life to the fullest while also being the best mom to my amazing son -- this takes a major balancing act that is nowhere close to perfect, but I'm getting better everyday. I am trying.


It all takes time and patience with myself and others -- so much more than I ever thought I needed. I do not have everything figured out, but I know that I am currently defining what it means to be my own type of woman. I started burlesque in 2017, when my son was only one, and I knew even back then that my journey through motherhood would somehow be intrinsically tied to my burlesque artistry.


I can't say anything has gotten easier, but I *am* finding out who I am when I slow down and take a minute to hear myself think and feel myself create without the knee-jerk desire to "keep up with the joneses" -- my art usually comes from a much more raw, authentic place. Sometimes I think people demand that women constantly compete and perform like blow-up dolls or something, and it's *very* easy to get swept up into that same rat race in burlesque.


I respectfully bow out of that race. What I am looking for is so much deeper and much more internal. I think life is already too hard on women and mothers (and especially Black women and mothers) and I know I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired -- so I'm re-writing the story. Don't know how it ends, but I'm assuming there will be tassel-twirling and that's already good enough for me!!


Until next time,

Bebe



245 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment


freakydiva goddess
freakydiva goddess
Mar 09, 2022

Sweetie. I know how you feel. I am a special needs mother & advocate. I am also starting my life over by changing careers and doing a little burlesque. I completely understand those fears and being fucking tired. You need to do you and what is best!

Hugs,

From another Black woman.

We got y'all back!

Like
bottom of page