LIFESTYLE

Meet Britain's Biggest Burlesque Dancer Who Says 'You Don't Have To Be Skinny To Be Sexy'

16/07/2014 17:25 BST | Updated 16/07/2014 17:59 BST

Meet Britain's biggest burlesque dancer - who has become Britain's top erotic stage performer at 14 stone, size 16.

Charlene Taylor, 26, once shied away from the limelight and thought sexy dancing was only for "skinny girls".

But after joining a dance class for fun she discovered a natural flair for saucy dancing and is now a paid burlesque dancer.

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She is the current Miss Burlesque UK and is flying the flag for larger women as she dances on stage in a G-string and a feather boa.

Charlene, of Doncaster, South Yorks, said: "At first I felt nervous about donning racy lingerie to dance in front of strangers, but as my confidence grew I couldn't wait to get up on stage.

"After every performance people would come up to me and tell me how refreshing it was to see a big girl dancing and how talented I was.

"For most of my adult life I believed being sexy meant being a size 10, but now I know that's not the case and I want other women to know they can do whatever they want - despite their size or shape."

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Charlene took the plunge into burlesque after spotting an advert for dance classes in her local newspaper in March 2013.

Her confidence was at rock bottom after a bad relationship and she was persuaded to have a go by family and friends.

She said: "I was a bag of nerves when I walked into the first class, but the other girls made me feel at ease even though they had much better figures than me."

But as the weeks rolled by, her confidence rocketed and soon she was shimmying around in next to nothing and feeling like 'Dita Von Teese'.

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Charlene, a single mum to son Callum, two, says her size 16 body and 14 stone weight has helped her "stand out".

"Although people think that dancers have to look a certain way, I soon forgot that I was a big girl on stage

"When members of the audience started commenting about how great I looked, it continued to boost my confidence," she said.

In October 2013 she beat 50 other dancers to the title of Miss Burlesque 2013 and is hoping to retain her crown later this year.

"People tell me I'm an inspiration," said Charlene, who performs in pubs and clubs in Yorkshire. "I'm flying the flag for bigger women who feel ashamed of their bodies.

"I used to hate my body but now I love it. You don't have to be skinny to be sexy, and I'm the living proof."