I can’t tell you exactly who she is but I can tell you where she came from. At my fortieth birthday party (so many years ago, sob) I created a seating arrangement that was a kind of pre-Instagram ‘find your own tribe’ system. I named each table, giving them titles that included “Tribal Elders”, “The Beautiful and the Damned”, “Masters of the Universe” and “Wits & Wags”. Each person or group could chose which table to sit at and it was excellent people watching to see where people chose.
Many of my favourite people chose the table named “Renegades and Outcasts”. When I went to have a drink with them and because I was, of course, wearing a huge feathered headdress, I was greeted as the “Renegade Showgirl”.
And that seemed so right. Kind of showy? Yes. Creative? Absolutely. Uncompromising? Always. Compassionate? Essential. I didn’t feel like that back then. I felt uncertain, insecure, fat frumpy and utterly unwilling to enter my forties. But being a Renegade Showgirl was something that struck a note of recognition. An ambition I could get behind. Somehow the name stuck.
And now, I do feel that way. Not all the time of course, like everyone I have my down times, my fat, no-one loves or understands me times. But more often than not, a flicker of Renegade Showgirl comes to my rescue. She makes go out for a run, helps me get through the weeks spent trekking around hospitals over the past couple of years. She shows me the way of compassion and non-judgement by making sure I can validate myself rather than putting that burden on other people. In short, she is the cool, clever, fancy pants woman I still hope to be. And sometimes I even manage it.
Renegade (Noun) UK /ˈren.ɪ.ɡeɪd/
I love the idea of embracing being a Renegade Showgirl. But I can’t be the only one, she’s more than any one person can be. When I’m in full RS flow I know how powerful she is, what she can be and achieve. Renegade Showgirls are everywhere; sometimes they know it already and feel their power. Sometimes they have an inkling it might be in them but have trouble releasing the Renegade Showgirl in their soul.
So here is her Manifesto. It’s the unfinished first draft and not set in stone so please feel free to add your suggestions and ideas. It’s vital that it is inclusive, so if you read it, want it to relate to you but feel it doesn’t, then tell me!
A Renegade Showgirl:
- does not define herself by whether she is a mother, career woman, carer, brain box, airhead, virgin or whore. She may be none, one or all of these. She knows that her life is big enough to encompass all of these roles at different times.
- is any age and however many years she has or has not behind her, she’s made the effort to learn from every single one of them.
- is uncompromising. She never does things because she ‘should’. She does them because she wants to or because she needs to. She enjoys the ‘want’ and embraces the ‘need’. ‘Should’ is always a compromise.
- is compassionate. She might not agree, she won’t pretend she does but she does not judge. She’s had enough life experience to know that people don’t always say the right thing or make the best decisions and that does not make them bad people. (In fact, she doesn’t really believe in “bad” people, only shitty circumstances.)
- does not need to ‘win’. There might be competition in life but life is not a competition. And if it turns out that it is a competition, lets face it, she’s already won.
- embraces creativity in all it’s forms. She knows its not just about painting a picture or being a writer or occupying any of those big, artistic roles. Creative play runs through every aspect of life and when we harness it, it gives us immense contentment and joy.
- is always curious. There’s a whole world to learn about. And once you know everything about it, there’s a whole future to imagine.
- takes action. Often we sit and think and think and sit and edit and plan then sit and think some more. This gets us somewhere but not very far. Taking action can be really hard. Sometimes we think we’re doing it but we’re not. Sometimes taking action is about not doing something. A Renegade Showgirl checks with herself regularly, “am I really taking useful action, everyday?”
- sets her own standards. She might love being loved and appreciate being admired but she does not burden others with her need for validation.
- has respect. For herself in the first place because without respect for herself she can’t pass it on to her loved ones, her community and the world.
- understands that this is a manifesto for people of privilege. She appreciates her privilege and promises not to forget or abandon those whose world lacks the peace, prosperity and equality a Renegade Showgirl can enjoy.
- knows that although all this sounds exhausting, it really isn’t. Being depressed, miserable and compromised is far more exhausting.
- is completely, joyously, utterly, fantastically ALIVE. Even on the dark days, the curl up in bed days, the saggy cheek, wrinkly eyes, too much cake days, the completely drained, hormonal days, the sick days, the Oh My God how could he, she, it, the world do this to me days, the Renegade Showgirl knows she has life pulsing through her body, an energy that will always resurface and will not be denied.