Here at Bold we love to highlight the amazing work our Bold Bosses do and our Bold Bosses themselves! This week we talked with #BoldBoss Rachel Micheletti about her adventure to self love and self discovery through advocacy, burlesque and belly dancing. Making sure to check out Rachel on Bold Boss Live, Thursday Jan 7th at 8 PM ET where she will be interviewing Dana Suchow.
Rachel is an award-winning dancer, performer, singer, model, and cosplayer from Norfolk, Virginia. She is the owner of Hipnotic World Fitness Center in Chesapeake, the only burlesque and belly dance-focused studio in the Hampton Roads area. At the studio she is an instructor in belly dance and burlesque and leads body-kindness and specialty workshops throughout the year (www.hipnoticbellydancing.com).
Along with the studio, Rachel is the manager of The Feral Showgirls, a traveling production company featuring performers of all types, from burlesque and boylesque to belly dance and beyond. The Feral Showgirls work to be a visual representation of inclusivity, representation, and all the fun (www.feralshowgirls.com).
Rachel is also the lead singer/songwriter of the award-winning band Rachel and the JellyCats, an 8 piece band bringing vintage style into the modern world (www.rachelandthejellycats.com).
Finally, Rachel has a master’s degree in mental health counseling and is working toward her master’s in addiction counseling. Rachel hopes to develop a holistic counseling practice, Live Body Brave, that incorporates body kindness, dance, performance, and confidence-building to assist clients in reclaiming love for their bodies and minds.
Bold Magazine: Who or what inspired you to start your quest for change?
Rachel Micheletti: Like many people, I was nearing my 30’s and looking back on my life realizing that I had passed by so many opportunities because of fear, lack of self-esteem, and terrible body image. I couldn’t see my worth and was looking toward the future with hopelessness and sadness, not sure of the point of it all.
Reaching this dark place led me to a discovery; I thought about what I was truly afraid of and what the absolute worst that could happen was if I started to say yes. I knew I probably couldn’t feel much worse than I already did, and this somehow began to diminish my fears. I took a chance and started to say YES. Yes to myself. Yes to my value. Yes to new experiences and love and delight and wonder.
I started back to school (I had failed out of college). I started to dress in a way that made me feel beautiful (I am fat and tall and not traditionally beautiful). I started to sing in public (after being bullied relentlessly about my voice in middle school). I started dancing (I had never danced before).
I remade my life into something extraordinary. And I knew that I wanted to help lead others onto remarkable transformations of their own.
By saying yes to myself I:
- Opened the only dance studio in Hampton Roads, Virginia specializing in belly dance and burlesque.
- Manage The Feral Showgirls, a performing arts group of 25 members with a strong focus on representation and being inclusive to showcase people of ALL types doing all sorts of wonderful things, from musicians, to burlesque dancers, to pole dancers, comedians, belly dancers, and more.
- Work as a professional emcee, burlesque dancer, and belly dancer.
- Became the lead singer of Rachel and the JellyCats, a 6 piece band that brings all the soul and swagger from the past into the rocking future.
- Graduated with a master’s degree in mental health counseling and working on a second master’s degree in addiction counseling.
- Run workshops on body kindness for people of all ages.
- Am a published writer.
- Am an award-winning model and cosplay artist.
BM: What makes you BOLD?
RM: I strive to live my life on my own colorful, authentic, and beautiful terms.
BM: Describe your personal style. What are some of your signature colors, styles, and accessories?
RM: My personal style is dictated by nothing other than choosing what makes me feel joyful, beautiful, and lavishly-adorned. I take advantage of the large amount of space my body inhabits by decorating it and celebrating it daily. I cover my gray hair with rainbow colors and clip it with flowers. Glitter is in my daily repertoire. My skin is embellished with bright tattoos and glowing jewelry. I take every opportunity I can to be a bright spot in a sometimes dreary world.
BM: If you could go back in time and give yourself advice as a young human, what would you tell her?
RM: YOU ARE WORTH IT. For a very long time I thought the space my body took up was directly proportional to my value: bigger body=less value. And I lived my life in that way. I passed up so many opportunities for fear of what others might think or say, and one day I realized so much of my life had passed by.
BM: What is your “day job” if you have one other than influencing and modeling?
RM: I work as a clinical mental health counseling resident as well as a dance studio owner and performer.
BM: What does beauty mean to you?
RM: Beauty means living each day with kindness toward ourselves and kindness toward others, and understanding that right now, as we are, we deserve love.
BM: What does fat acceptance mean to you? Body positivity?
RM: Fat acceptance is the providing of space, dignity, and positive regard for all bodies. Fat acceptance opens the door for all people of all sizes to live their lives on their terms and with the freedom from discrimination that each and every human being should be afforded. Body positivity is not only the understanding that our bodies have the right to exist, but to exist exactly as they are at this moment, without question and without caveat.
BM: Who are some humans who inspire you?
RM: Anyone and everyone who provides space for others when they are able, and those who, with absolute grace and kindness, not only open new doors, but realize the obligation to hold the door for others. This can be through advocacy work, hiring practices, self-reflection, acknowledgement of privilege; there are so many ways we can promote positive change.
BM: What can readers expect next – do you have anything exciting you would like to share with us?
RM: I am so excited to be launching my new business in January 2021, Live Body Brave. We will offer counseling, coaching, and mentorship services, along with innovative beauty and performance experiences to assist clients in developing their passions and purpose. With a strong focus on body kindness and body neutrality, clients can expect a holistic mental and physical health experience like no other available. From boudoir photography to burlesque, we will work with clients to reclaim and celebrate their bodies, exactly as they are.
BM: Do you have a message you want to leave with our readers?
RM: Say yes to yourself. Say yes to yourself not in spite of your body but in celebration of your body. The world needs to see you and hear you and know you, every single inch.
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