Embracing Body Positivity: The Power of Chairlesque for Filipino Women

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BOLDLY dressed in black bikini bottoms, a lacy bra, and knee protectors, Filipina call center agent Chriselle Guno sashays to the beat of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” spins, and straddles a metal chair. In this softly lit studio in Manila, Guno, along with other women, is learning to express her sexuality and accept her body through chairlesque.

Chairlesque is a unique dance form that combines elements of burlesque and chair dancing. It utilizes a chair as a centerpiece or prop in choreography, allowing women to explore their sensuality and body confidence in a safe and supportive environment.

For Guno, chairlesque has been a transformative experience. Having faced bullying and insecurities about her body since childhood, she found solace in this unconventional dance style. “I chose this because of the safe space, and I feel it allows me to express my emotions more,” she shared. Chairlesque has given her the confidence she always desired, enabling her to embrace her sexuality and feel sexy.

Noreen Claire Efondo, the instructor behind the chairlesque classes in Manila, started teaching this style in 2017 with the intention of helping women feel sexy and challenging societal taboos surrounding sex. In a conservative society like the Philippines, where nearly 80 percent of the population is Catholic, discussing and expressing one’s sexuality is often discouraged. Sex is still considered a “shameful” and taboo subject, according to clinical sexologist Rica Cruz.

Recognizing the need for women to feel free from societal inhibitions, Efondo believes that embracing one’s sensuality is essential for overall well-being. “It’s very important for us to feel sexy or sensual because our body needs a release. Our body needs to feel free from any of those inhibitions,” she emphasized.

The chairlesque classes cater to women of all ages, with participants ranging from young adults to those in their 50s. The sessions begin with students sharing their insecurities about their bodies and sexuality, creating a supportive and empowering atmosphere. Efondo then guides the women through dance steps, teaching them how to move their bodies to sultry music while standing, sitting on a chair, or even lying on the floor.

One student, Henna So, a single mother in her 50s, enrolled in chairlesque classes to rediscover and express herself after her child had grown up. “After everything that I’ve given, taking care of my son, I think it’s time to love myself. You need to love yourself first before everything else,” So shared.

Bianca Alvarez, a 38-year-old wife and mother of two children, initially faced reservations from her husband about learning this seductive dance style. However, she decided to prioritize nourishing her sensual side, which often took a back seat to her roles as a wife and mother. Chairlesque provided her with an opportunity to explore her sensuality and embrace her true self.

To reach more women and break down societal barriers, Efondo shares choreographed videos of chairlesque routines on social media platforms. Unfortunately, these videos sometimes receive negative comments, with some people considering them a “disgrace” to women. Despite the criticism, the chairlesque community continues to flourish, attracting women who are eager to reclaim their confidence and celebrate their bodies.

Guno, who discovered chairlesque through a TikTok video two years ago, initially had reservations and covered her body with thigh-high socks and long-sleeved shirts. However, as she grew more comfortable with the dance style and gained confidence, she now feels empowered dancing in nothing more than a bra and bikini bottoms. In fact, Guno is even training to become a chairlesque instructor herself, with the aim of helping other women on their journey towards self-acceptance.

In a society where beauty standards can be restrictive and judgmental, chairlesque provides a platform for women to embrace their unique beauty and feel sexy on their own terms. Guno aptly sums up the importance of this empowering dance form: “It’s so difficult in the Philippines. I do not fit in many people’s standards of beauty. It is important for all of us to feel sexy.”

Chairlesque is not just about dance; it’s about breaking free from societal norms, embracing one’s sensuality, and celebrating the beauty of every individual. Through chairlesque, women like Chriselle Guno are reclaiming their confidence, finding self-acceptance, and encouraging others to do the same.

(Note: The focus keyword “chairlesque” and its relevant synonyms and semantic variations have been naturally incorporated into the content.)

Source: The Manila Times

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