How Burlesque Saved My Life

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dollyLondon’s Dolly De’melza shares with us how her recent burlesque debut changed her life by helping her overcome bullying, an eating disorder, and find confidence for the first time.

Dolly’s Debut

Wednesday 16th June 2010

It’s the day of my burlesque debut. My god, I am nervous. I haven’t been on a stage since my primary school, I remember putting myself out there and showing the world how different I was. It was then people started to bully me for being different and because of the bullying I hid, to fade into the background. I envied childhood heroes and how they shone through the crowd; I spent my time daydreaming about fairies and goblins living in a make-believe world, or old fashioned actresses being elegant and glamorous.

At home, it was a different story. I had a fantastic garden, almost like a storybook forest, with a cute vegetable garden (perfect for my vegetarian ways), and flowers of every kind everywhere, and right at the back my mummy had made me my very own little stage, where I put on my own productions to my teddy bears. I always got a standing ovation! I also had a massive dress-up box with the craziest costumes ever, including feathers, hats and heels, showing that some things never change! I also got to sit in the garden and listen to my mummy telling me tales about my great-nanny Iris Nelly, who is the main reason why I love the forties so much. Thinking about the strong, pin curled woman looking over me as my guardian angel always made me feel confident inside.

I spent my teenage years pondering why people work their way up the ladder of cool; whilst being physically and mentally bullied for being, short, chunky, alien faced, flat-chested, or whatever other  excuse possible. I soon sank into depression and developed an eating disorder. The bullying I got then was so severe that my mummy pulled me out and self taught me, even though she doubted herself she’s saved me, she’s the real super woman. We had some fantastic lessons, including one where we dressed as the homeless and went to a shopping complex to gauge the reaction that we got. The next day we went to the same shopping complex dressed as models, and the reaction we got was so much different, teaching me that I shouldn’t worry what people thought of me as long as I liked myself. Well, tonight I’m showing the world who Dolly is, and I hope they like me as much as I do! Oh help me, Iris Nelly!

It’s Show Time

Watching the other performers with my nerves racking and my knees shaking, I hardly noticed when a hand slipped into mine and helped me onto the stage, my mind going blank to what I had planned. When I looked at the audience, my gut just screamed ‘Hell Yeah!’ and I launched into my routine, altering and improvising some of the routine based on the reaction of the audience.

I loved every second of it! I got a huge buzz off of the noise the audience made. The flashes of the cameras showed that people actually wanted to take a picture of me!  My dream was coming true- and maybe one day this girl could be what she wanted to be: an alternative pin-up burlesque performer! My confidence soared, and I felt happy and comfortable being me for the first time ever.

After doing my routine, I climbed off-stage and searched for my mummy. When I finally found her, she gave me the biggest cuddle and her eyes said “You’ve done it, Dolly!” Outside, I was surrounded by the people I’ve been missing out on my whole life. I had finally reached the first step to my dreams, and since then I haven’t stopped climbing. I have found myself, and I like who I am, and now with more photo shoots and routines planned in the future, I know what I can give and what to deliver. I’m Dolly, and I’m here to stay!

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