This Pregnant Burlesque Dancer Is Shattering the Idea That Moms Can't Be Sexy

Courtesy of Hattie Harlowe/Red Lite Photos

Burlesque, the artistic form that's usually accompanied by feathers and drama, is thought to be a sensual act featuring only thin, svelte women. But the truth is, the art of burlesque is for every kind of body -- including pregnant ones. 

So one performer who goes by the name Hattie Harlowe took the initiative to create her inaugural show called Bumps & Grinds: An All-Mama Revue, which took place in Philadelphia earlier this month. 

  • Harlowe, who is over eight months pregnant and already a mother of one, has been involved in the burlesque scene for the past five years.

    Courtesy of Hattie Harlowe/Red Lite Photos

    It was her now-husband who dragged her to her first burlesque show, which she actually had no interest in at all. But that changed pretty quickly. "I saw the show and I was immediately enamored by the art form," she tells CafeMom. 

    "It's empowering in a lot of ways; there's an incredible sense of feminism and body positivity to this art form," she continues, "in that you are creating the image that you want. You are in control of your body."

    People typically associate burlesque with stripping and the "male-gaze perception," but Harlowe finds burlesque to be a female-driven space. 

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  • Harlowe has been performing throughout her entire pregnancy, even announcing the pregnancy quietly through an act.

    Courtesy of Hattie Harlowe/Red Lite Photos

    With this child planned to be her last, she wanted to do something to celebrate the near end of her pregnancy. "The two parts of me and my life that are most important are motherhood and burlesque," she says. "Being able to marry them together in one show is very special."

  • So as you can guess, her show celebrated motherhood in all of its glory, and also proved how women have multiple facets to themselves.

    Courtesy of Hattie Harlowe/Out Photography

    Each of the eight performers (including Harlowe) are mothers, with kids ranging in age from toddlers to teenagers. Harlowe, however, was the only currently pregnant performer. 

    "Often mothers are overly sexualized or turned into inanimate objects -- we can only be mothers," she says. "I hope that when people see this, their perceptions are changed just slightly so they know that we can be many things at once."

  • And many things they were. Her roster of performers ranged in skills and talents.

    Courtesy of Hattie Harlowe/Red Lite Photos

    It included a clown and a contortionist–modern dancer who was painted like a lion. There was also a doula who was a drag performer, and did a drag king number.

    In fact, Harlowe says she was overwhelmed by the amount of people who wanted to audition for her shows. She says she could have booked three times the amount of cast members she ended up with, proving that her show concept seems to have struck a chord. "There's so many different types of performance artists that also happen to be mothers," she says. 

  • Harlowe herself performed a fan dance, which she calls a "historical burlesque trope."

    Courtesy of Hattie Harlowe/Red Lite Photos

    You would probably recognize the act because of its big ostrich feather fans, which are used to tease audiences; underneath the fans, she was pretty much naked, just donning some form of underwear and pasties. 

    Actually, she admits that she chose this performance because "nothing else really fits," being that she's over eight months pregnant. 

    More from CafeMom: 15 Stunning Photos of Moms 'Delivering' Their Own Babies

    As you're probably wondering, performing while expecting is indeed different than performing while not pregnant. "It's very physically challenging," Harlowe tells CafeMom. Not only is she very tired, but she can't wear the rhinestone high heels that she usually performs in. 

  • It seems to have been worth it, since Harlowe says the turnout was "incredible."

    Courtesy of Hattie Harlowe/Red Lite Photos

    The audience was mixed, not being comprised of all women or straight couples either, as the show was in a queer-inclusive space in a very LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood of Philly. "For any production I do, it's about being positive and being inclusive, so I think that this kind of show really embodied that in a lot of ways," she says. 

    Harlowe also held a raffle at the show and ended up raising $80, all of which has been donated to Planned Parenthood. 

  • With such a success under her belt, Harlowe hopes to throw another motherhood burlesque show for next year's Mother's Day.

    Courtesy of Hattie Harlowe/Red Lite Photos

    And by the looks of these photos, we can't wait to see what she has planned.

body positivity body image sex sexuality