I met the amazing Lynn Ruth after her show at the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year. She is an absolute gem, and proof that it does not matter what age you are or what you’ve been through, you can still get up and achieve your dreams! She is an inspiration and we are very honoured to share her story with you.
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful,
Than a woman being unapologetically herself;
Comfortable in her perfect imperfection.”
I became conscious of my body when I was 16 and I hated it. This was 1946 when the image was a flat tummy and big breasts. The goal was the “sweater girl” look: a slender, pegged skirt with a slit so you could walk and a filled tight sweater. I was flat- chested, with tiny hips and a bloated tummy that made my shape look more like a Shmoo than Marilyn Monroe.
Through the years, as fashions changed and my body modified, I never seemed able to diet it down or corset it into the shape I saw in magazine centerfolds. I knew instinctively that if I wanted to catch a man (and in those days, we all wanted to do that) I would have to look tempting enough to excite him. No man with a decent level of testosterone would look twice at a woman shaped like a tube with oversized feet that turned out when she walked. I was convinced that my poor social life was the result of high intelligence and a lousy figure.
It never occurred to me that the first step to becoming a beauty is to love who you are. I saw homely, dumpy, fashion-less girls snap up all the eligible men and I never understood how they did it. Even I, with my sallow coloring and wispy hair looked better than they did. Besides I didn’t wear glasses and my complexion was clear.
Years passed and my body parts reshaped themselves with each decade, but no matter what happened to them, I hated the look I had. For as long as I can remember, I have either worn baggy pants and oversized shirts, or long loose dresses, starting with the waist-less shifts in the fifties to the loose flowing gowns I have adopted since I came to California in the eighties. I have always been thankful for clothes that conceal and it never occurred to me to lower my turtle neck to anything décolleté.
About 6 years ago, I added a mock strip tease to my comedy act and for the first time in my life, I exposed my legs and my collar bone. The costume I wore was hardly salacious (I had given that up years ago) but it certainly revealed a lot more of me than had ever been exposed before. I pranced and posed through the next few years, never exposing more, but adding new and more daring costumes until bit by bit, I devised the blinking tit routine which flashed as I sang and was disconcerting, funny and not very provocative at all.
And then two years ago, I started doing my songs in real burlesque shows. I would go into the dressing room and watch women of every size and shape get themselves into gorgeous and revealing costumes and instead of dressing behind a screen (as I had done for a minimum of seventy years) I was undressing in a room filled with naked men and women…..(boys do burlesque too) and no one looked askance at me or at each other. In fact, we all helped one another hook, pin and embellish our costumes ready for the stage.
I noticed that the women who were the best performers did not necessarily conform to any “look” but they all shared a wonderfully confident attitude and it was then I realized what those homely girls in the forties had that I didn’t have. They loved who they were. They never thought twice about the circumference of their waists or the size of their brassiere. Their concern was how to show off what they had…and how to put it to the best and most pleasurable use.
I think that is wonderful. I am past worrying about pleasurable use but I am certainly interested in using what I have to the best advantage. I LIKE being saucy and even sexy…..no I LOVE it….and I love the body I have to do it with. Both hips are mine, the knees bend, the boobs are saggy but they can twirl… sort of. And who cares? I am the only me I can be and I am unique. That is plenty good enough for me.
“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed.
And you are beautiful.”
by the wonderful Lynn Ruth Miller, a comedian and performer.