There’s nothing like an image consultant comparing you to a grandma to get you to start reevaluating things. Last fall, I was called out in a group for hiding a form-fitting top and skirt under a loose cardigan at a life-coaching session in New York City. The complaint? The outfit didn’t exactly scream self-confidence or sexy, and the sneakers I had on weren’t helping either. I had joined this program to help me reach my highest potential, and what I realized instantly was that the image I was projecting was not matching up.
My coach advised me to always wear heels because they would change the way I carry myself into a room. I made a mental note, but being a creature of habit, I eventually returned to the comfort zone of my flats and sneakers that helped me survive my daily commutes.
And then one day while browsing my Instagram feed, I stumbled upon the page of Miss Ksyn, a professional dancer who has toured with Beyoncé. She posted a flyer advertising a class called “Body Language: The Art of Seduction,” where she noted that “as women we can express ourselves sensually, sexually, and most importantly confidently thru the art of the striptease.”
I automatically thought of Beyoncé’s “Partition” music video where she performs a striptease-inspired dance for Jay Z. Watching her expressing her sexuality so freely was inspiring. If there is anyone that I would want to emulate when it comes to being sexy and help me break out of my shell, it would be Beyoncé. So when I saw Ksyn’s post, I jumped at the opportunity.
Coming from a conservative Dominican household, the topic of sex was not something that we discussed in a positive light. My mother’s worst fear was that I’d get knocked up, which is common for some of our family in the Dominican Republic. She made a point to always remind me that she waited until marriage to have sex, but as I got older, I realized that I did not want to follow in her footsteps. This in turn created intense feelings of guilt when it ultimately happened. It made it difficult to let go and really enjoy the experience.
Any requests to put on a sexy dance have always been quickly shut down out of fear of looking silly, even though I’ve actually wanted to try it. So I used the class to get some guidance and let out my inner Beyoncé.
The Sunday after seeing the Instagram announcement, I made my way over to Ripley-Grier Studios in the Theater District to take the class. Upon arrival, Ksyn was very welcoming. She shared anecdotes about her day, which made me feel very much at ease.
At the beginning of the session, we were encouraged to let go of the day and any negativity and to be in the moment. We moved onto warm-ups and practicing walking in heels, which is the only thing you are required to bring for the class. There’s something about heels themselves that can instantly make you feel sexier — that life coach is certainly onto something. The class wouldn’t be the same without them.
Next it was time for what we all came for: the choreography. I was shocked to learn that we would be doing a chair dance to Beyoncé’s “Dance for You.” I felt like I was being thrown to the wolves for a moment because there were some moves, like straddling and crossing your legs over the back of a chair, which required a little more flexibility than what I was ready for.
I found myself worrying about what I looked like, but then Ksyn picked up on it and reminded the class to not worry about counting the steps and focus more on fluid movements. As we went over the choreography and practiced it over and over again, things got easier. Even if I messed up, all I had to do was keep going. There were no expectations for me to be perfect and that was incredibly liberating.
More liberating still was the part of the class where Ksyn reminded us that our bodies are exactly that:ours. We shouldn’t be afraid of them. I finally let go of the grandmother I was portraying and embraced everything that makes me a woman: my hips, curves, and desires. And the best part was I didn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed about it.