Author and actress Sheila Kelley is launching a new campaign entitled, Redefining Sexy: Believe in Your Beauty, which aims to redefine the terms “sexy” and “beauty” through a provocative video featuring true stories of real women. The video campaign features Diana Schlobohm, a breast cancer survivor who lost both breasts to cancer.
Sheila opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about Redefining Sexy and her hopes to empower all women, her journey toward pole dancing, and how she teaches her kids – Ruby, 12, and Gus, 18 – that “both the masculine and the feminine are equally valuable in mind, body, heart and soul.”
CBS: Tell us all about your new campaign, Redefining Sexy: Believe in Your Beauty. Tell us about the video and how it aims to help women with cancer. Why did you get involved in this campaign? How has cancer touched your life?
SK: “Redefining Sexy: Believe in Your Beauty is a global social movement to help all women believe in their natural beauty.
I’ve been researching the psychology, neurology and physiology of women for 12 years. And I’ve come across statistics that have made me wonder how we as a culture went from worshipping women in early civilizations to subjugating women in what is supposed to be the modern era. What I refer to as “the shutting down” of women’s sexuality in our society has led 80% of women in the United States to be unhappy with their appearance. I believe that all women are beautiful no matter what.
What I decided to do is video women from all walks of life who society should see as being sexy. And I’ve asked these women, using fluid feminine movement, to feel, believe in, and dance their sexy. I wanted other women who are experiencing low self-esteem for whatever reason to watch these videos and be inspired to believe in their own beauty. And I wanted to inspire everyone to share these videos with other women and men so they will go viral.
We’re also tweeting #RedefiningSexy and sharing stories online with women from all over the world. We want as many people as possible to see these videos and change their perspective of what is sexy.
Diana Schlobohm’s video is the first of many videos in the #RedefiningSexy movement. Diana’s video was launched this past October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I have had close family members affected by cancer and I knew I wanted to show that this disease does not rob women of their sexuality unless you let it. In November 2011, just before Thanksgiving, Diana tested positive for Stage 1 HER-2 NEU positive breast cancer. On Christmas Eve morning 2011, she underwent a Bilateral Mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. Diana has been through six rounds of chemotherapy — Herceptin, Taxotere, and Carboplatin. She will continue receiving Herceptin at three-week intervals until February 2012. Diana was filmed dancing for her #RedefiningSexy video 6 days after surgery. When you watch her video, you witness pure beauty of movement, and a soulfully sexy power that is breathtaking. Diana’s story is for all women, not just breast cancer warriors. And the sharing of her story lives beyond Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as awareness is vital for this disease and for the power and beauty of women 365 days a years.”
CBS: Tell us all about how you created SFactor.com after preparing for one of your movie roles. Tell us all about SFactor.
SK: “I was working on a project called Dancing at the Blue Iguana, a movie about a group of women working in a strip club. And while I was doing my research for the movie, I went to strip clubs, I met real women, I watched this intoxicating movement, this undulation of theirs bodies that was just so feminine and sensual. And I learned to dance this way.
I noticed a change in my body. My muscles got long and lean, my body became a dancer’s body but not like a ballerina; I had studied classical ballet at the Tisch School of Arts in New York. This was a curvy, sensual, feminine dancer’s body. And with this new body I found something in myself that I had been missing in my life — a connection to my femininity, and to my power as a woman.
After I finished the movie I got pregnant with my second child, my beautiful daughter Ruby, which was a blessing, but I lost that connection to my body. And so I told my husband Richard, “I’m putting a stripper pole in your office out in the guest house.” And at first he was against it because he knew it would block his view of the TV from his treadmill.
I put it up and started working out on it in front of him, then of course he loved it. And my friends, other mothers and actresses, began to notice a change in me. Not only the S shaped curves of my body, but my connection to my body and how I moved in it. They saw a light turned on in me that they had felt was shut down in them. That was S Factor and everyone wanted to learn it — a fitness technique that teaches women the language of their bodies through fluid feminine movement.
One of these friends was the actress Teri Hatcher. She went on Oprah and mentioned S Factor and after the show Oprah got one of the greatest viewer responses ever. Phone calls and emails came pouring in asking, “How can I learn S Factor?” Today I have 7 S Factor studios across the U.S.”
CBS: You and your husband Richard Schiff have 2 kids. Tell us their names and ages. What are they into? What do they do to make you laugh?
SK: “My daughter Ruby is 12 and my son Gus is 18. My daughter is into sports and my son is into computers. My daughter makes me laugh when I say something I think is hip and cool and she gives me that look kids give their parents. And I’m like, “What???”
My son makes me laugh when he asks to do something I think he’s much too young to do, and then he says something infinitely wise that just knocks me off my mommy pedestal. They are both my little masculine and feminine geniuses.”
CBS: Have your kids learned about mommy’s pole dancing routines? What do they think?
SK: “They are both fully aware and have always been. I’ve got several poles in our house and they’ve been playing on them since they were wee ones. I talk to my children openly about sexuality and they understand that the pole is not an apparatus of eroticism. They understand that it’s no different than a ballet barre. It’s just pointing up instead of side to side.”
CBS: How do you teach your kids to feel beautiful and foster healthy self esteem?
SK: “I teach my children that both the masculine and the feminine are equally valuable in mind, body, heart and soul. I teach my daughter that no matter what she sees on television, in movies, in books and magazines that she is a powerful, beautiful, feminine creature. We discuss these images in society and have open conversations about them. I teach Ruby to radiate her beauty, to feel comfortable, open and free in her skin. And I teach my son that his masculinity is valuable, and to respect women, to use his masculine as a way to protect women, to step up to his magnificence of masculinity and create a space of safety in the world for the feminine to thrive.”
CBS: How do you and your hubby keep the romance alive with a busy household and careers? Special date nights?
SK: “My hub-man Richard Schiff and I are madly in love because he lets me be a woman, and I let him be a man. We balance each other and we have this love affair that’s like a dance of masculine and feminine energy. It’s divine. We both travel a lot for work and are sometimes apart for months at a time. He’s in New York right now for a role in Glengarry Glen Ross with Al Pacino. So I fly in to see him and we have these very intense romantic weekends at our favorite spots in Manhattan.”
CBS: What’s up next for you?
SK: “More #RedefiningSexy! On 12/12/12 we’ll be launching the next video in the campaign at www.SheilaKelley.com. I hope your readers will watch and share the next inspiring story of beauty in this important movement for all women.”