Category Archives: Celebrity

Agent Burlieque: Paint the town glitzy with burlesque!

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According to Sapphire Rox, the creator of Suffolk-based burlesque outfit Agent Burlieque, Burlesque can transform our vision of ourselves, bringing confidence and an inner sparkle to anyone who takes part – as well as those who watch the group’s fantastic cabarets and performances.

You can find out for yourself if you’re in Suffolk around 6th and 7th  December – the Christmas Burlesque Cabaret is hitting the town and painting it unashamedly glitzy. Starring the internationally acclaimed Hot Cake Kitty and hosted by songstress extraordinaire Lili La Scala and more, the show will be full of Christmas glamour and celebration.

I spoke to Sapphire about why she thinks burlesque is such a fabulous show both for the entertainers and the audience.

agent burlieque

For those of us who might not know, what is burlesque about?

“Burlesque has many different faces. Mainly it’s an art form used to express a theme along with femininity; done well it is a tantalising expression of the female and sometimes male form.

“At Agent Burlieque we like to work with highly expressive performers who can captivate audiences and  keep them on the edge of their seats. Burlesque appeals to women on a grand scale as it inspires and empowers them.”

What was it that got you fired up to start your own troupe?

“I’m a Londoner born and bred, but I moved to Suffolk to raise my young family and I had to leave the creative scene in London behind.

“I expected  Suffolk to have an established burlesque scene and was blown away when I couldn’t find anything like burlesque at London standard. I took it upon myself to do something about it, and that’s how Agent Burlieque started. We’re a burlesque troupe and also a booking agent, an events company that holds hen nights and workshops.”

The outfits are amazing – where do you get them from?

“Thank you! Each performer carefully selects costumes that reflect the themes of their acts; and of course they need to be easily removable! We all scout high and low for pieces, in vintage markets and car boot fairs, burlesque swap shops and high street stores. Then we customise! Burly girls are known to stay up all night carefully rhinestoning and glitzing up outfits, trimming with beads and making props by hand.”

Agent Burlieque is made up of women from many backgrounds – can you tell us a bit about them?

“The core troupe of Agent Burlieque changes, as does the burlesque scene. We have around 40 performers from all different walks of life, most of them with day jobs. We currently have a call centre worker, a hairdresser, a fire fighter, a tattoo artist, a mum, a prison officer and a stay at home father!”

Let’s be honest – women who are big, curvy or fat are derided constantly in the media. Do you really think that burlesque can help a bigger woman feel more confident in a fat-phobic world?

“I think it’s terrible that we as humans are made to feel constantly terrible about ourselves. And it’s not about being different; we all know size 16 is the average woman’s size in the UK and yet women of this size and bigger are  singled out and encouraged to be ashamed of our body shape. Burlesque fights that to the very core. The following burlesque has I think is largely down to the sheer love of the human body and the empowerment found by both men and women when they watch burlesque.

“Burlesque has the ability to transform current thinking about body shape and what we should look like.”

What’s your take on the way fat people are bullied by the media?

“You know I really am up for celebrating curves, but also thin people, gay men, everyone. None of us should feel ashamed of who we are simply because the advertising agencies want to make a mint out of us. To be ashamed gives the diet, media and fashion industries a financial gain.

“There is a different way to live and that is to accept and celebrate who you are as an individual; and sometimes it can be hard to do that. But find burlesque and you will find you are happy just the way you are.

“I think it is the only industry I know of that can positively transform the media’s harmful message about the female form.  After shows both men and women thank me for bringing them peace…peace that they are just right however and whoever they are.”

Do you have any advice for curvy girls on looking and feeling fabulous?

“Yes!! Show it off! Be confident in the way you dress, don’t hide. Put your red lippy on, do your hair, wear high-waisted skirts and show of that backside! Put on your heels when you go out and paint a ‘look at me’ expression on your face.

“We’ve been told by the media that people only want to look at us when we are thin and model like, but we want to look at them because they are confident and happy in themselves, not because they are thin.

“Once you start showing off your curves instead of hiding them under loose clothes you will also attract the positive attention you deserve and you’ll be sending out the positive message to other curvy people that curves are sexy!”

If you want to find out more about Agent Burlieque, contact Sapphire via the website, or like on Facebook.

 

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Filed under Celebrity, Fashion, Lifestyle, Relentlessly Positive

But I don’t WANT to be a size ten!

notaWAR

Look, I have nothing at all against being a size ten. Or an eight. Or a six. And now I realise I sound like a racist who says things like “But some of my best friends are black.”

Honestly though. All I want is to be healthy. And not to be judged and found wanting just because I’m never ever going to fit into a size ten unless I develop the sort of serious illness that makes you lose weight. A lot of it.

When I think about the weight/size I feel happiest, and I try to imagine myself at anything much under a size 14, it somehow feels wrong. I don’t want to be thin. It’s not me, it never has been and it never will be. I don’t recognise myself in those images in my head. If I let myself think about it without the incessant chatter of the media telling me that the words ‘size ten’ are automatically preceded by the word ‘healthy’, I see myself as a well-rounded size 16. Fit, healthy and just a little bit chunky. I don’t have a problem with that!

My ideal size range would be anything from a 14 to an 18. A 14 is quite hard for me to maintain, which is why I haven’t been that size since I was 25. I feel good at 16 and 18, and yeah, being a 20 or 22 (my biggest ever was a 24, and I didn’t feel good at that size, I felt incredibly unhealthy, but I was miserable and on the verge of separating from my ex) doesn’t QUITE feel like me. I’m not unfit, I walked ten miles this morning and I live to tell the tale, but life just feels a bit easier when you can move around a bit faster. That’s how I feel, and there are plenty of people who are 20,22 and bigger and have no problems cycling, running, doing fitness classes and so have no reason to want to get any smaller. So, they should stay where they feel comfortable. Diets suck and they don’t work, no matter how many Weight Watchers sponsored studies try and tell you otherwise.

It wouldn’t be the end of the world to me if I stayed this size forever. I’d prefer not to get any bigger, because it might make my knees hurt. If all this fitness and generally looking after myself does result in weight loss (it’s hopefully, maybe if I’m lucky going to end in pregnancy which is going to make me even heavier – eek) then that’s all well and good, but I’m never dieting again and I genuinely don’t have any desire to be thin.

I read this article by Lionel Shriver today, and it sort of inspired this post. The obsession with our body sizes and what we eat is getting scary. It’s affecting men as well. Reporters commented on every single biscuit Lionel did or didn’t eat while she was being interviewed, in every interview she gave for the book ‘Big Brother’. When ‘Viva Voluptuous’ comes out, if it makes any kind of impression and I get interviewed, I’m going to have to develop a skin like a freaking rhino to not get upset by comments about my weight, size, and eating habits. But I really think the tide is turning.

I couldn’t possibly have written the book the way I have if I didn’t have experience of being fat, trying not to be fat, and the way society treats people who don’t fit their idea of normal. Or beautiful. So I’m saying it right here and right now. I don’t WANT to be a size ten. So bite me.

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Filed under Celebrity, Media, Project Junior, Viva Voluptuous

“I’ve had my weight problems but I think that makes me a normal person.”

Self-confessed yo -yo dieter actress Natalie Cassidy reveals how she finally learned to love herself.

Natalie Cassidy

Happy to be able to ease into a pair of size 10 jeans and at the weight she wants to stay forever, it hasn’t always been the same for bubbly ex-east Enders star Natalie Cassidy, 29. She worried fans when she ditched four stone for the launch of her best-selling DVD, admitting to taking laxatives to her drop  the last few dress sizes only to shoot back up to a size 16 months later and her weight has been on public display right ever since.

“It’s true to say I’ve never had an easy relationship with food, even as a teenager I struggled to maintain a regular weight and I suppose it suited me to play Sonia in East Enders as she was the “fat” one who didn’t have to look too glamorous. It still hurt when I saw pictures of me in a bikini with the headline “beached whale”

“After that I did lose weight. I tried everything from the Cabbage Soup to the Atkins plan but whenever something big happened in my life it affected my weight. When my good friend and co-star on East Enders Wendy Richard died people accused me of comfort eating but it wasn’t like that – I just lost the motivation to diet.”

It was when Natalie was at her slimmest that she really suffered. “I was asked to do a fitness DVD and I saw it as a way to get back into shape but I ended up getting out of control. I went from a size 16 to a tiny size 8 in just weeks.”  Natalie was living in a tracksuit and felt hungry all the time, and she admits she became obsessed with food, eating only an apple at meal times, and was “tired all the time.”

“One day I just snapped, went home, began to eat and piled the weight back on again.”

Months later Natalie got the chance to appear on Strictly, and for once she didn’t have to diet, she dropped two dress sizes naturally and felt fabulous.  “Just after the series I fell pregnant and did put weight on again but I think having Eliza proved the turning point when it came to yo-yo dieting:  I suddenly realised there was something in my life that was more important than me and how I looked.”

To help her lose her mummy tummy Natalie enlisted the help of personal trainer Rob Horslen who gave her a programme of walking, fitness and weights as well as a diet that’s helped her achieve her new curvy size 10 shape and made her feel sexy again. “I’ve lost 1 st 2lbs just by being sensible.  I prepared all my meals myself so I knew exactly what I was putting in. I stuck to a high protein and veg diet of 1,200 calories a day and cut out carbs completely.”

Natalie trains six days a week, working on her upper body one day and lower the next with a high intensity cardio in between and reckons she the fittest she’s ever been. “I’ve even found a herbal supplement called Thisilyn Artichoke that’s helped with my bloating problem. I might never have a totally flat stomach but this really helped when I’ve eaten too much pasta or bread. “

Natalie is Ambassador for the Health Lottery, something she’s really proud of: “I’ve had my weight problems but I think that makes me a normal person. I want women to be realistic about dieting, it’s not just something you start every January, a diet should be a way of life. I want to be a role model for women who’ve had the same problems as me, I’d like to think they can look at me and achieve their goals, too.”

Natalie uses Thisilyn Artichoke which has helped her to beat the bloat and maintain a healthy digestion. Available from Boots, (7.99 for 30 capsules for 30) visit www.thisilynartichoke.co.uk for details.

Thanks to Abby Knight for this interview, which was scheduled to appear in the March issue of Inspired Magazine…another one that wasn’t published!

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Filed under Celebrity, Food and diets, Media