Embracing Your Alter Ego – How Having a Stage Name or Persona Can Improve Your Confidence
Tigz Rice is an internationally published photographer specializing in burlesque and boudoir photography. Opening the doors to her photography studio Tigz Rice Studios in December 2009, Tigz has had the privilege of working with some of the top industry names, including the official photography at a number of the European Burlesque Festivals. When she’s not taking photographs, Tigz also performs burlesque throughout the UK under the pseudonym of Raven Six and has just been nominated as a finalist in the newcomer section of the World Burlesque Games.
If you had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting me during my early years, you’ll probably remember that I was one of the most boring children in the playground. In fact, I was so ‘glum’ – as my year six tutor so wonderfully put it – after many years of school bullying for being a little overweight and having a maturity level of several years above my own age group, that I invented an alter ego. I’m not really sure if it was planned or not as the name Tigz was originally intended as nothing more than a bit of harmless fun on a youth club camping trip. However, this alter ego brought something else out of me that weekend and I started signing off everything with this new name. Inspired by the cartoon character, I suppose it allowed me to channel a few more of Tigger’s Traits, becoming far more playful in my personality and allowing me to completely bounce back from any negativity I experienced. The new ‘me’ embraced unpopular music, had extreme hairstyles, vocalised opinions and generally challenged conformity without the fear of acceptance. Ironically, it was this new persona that finally did bring the acceptance I’d craved for years – but by then I was way past the point of caring about what other people thought about me.
Having recently taken the plunge into the burlesque industry as a performer, I have once again found a need to create a new alter ego to segregate that part of my life from my businesswoman mindset. Raven is inspired by one specific memory in my teenage years and seems to be a division of Tigz - rather than being two separate people, they are like twins with Raven being the far more mischievous one! Raven is the dare devil, the stripper, the uninhibited. She doesn’t ask for attention, she demands it. She epitomises the bird of prey – elegant yet deadly, never smiling. Tigz, on the other hand epitomizes the Tiger. She is powerful, strategic and fiercely competitive, yet has a cuddly, playful disposition if you get her in the right mood! I’m sure there is a reason why I’ve chosen to name myself after to predatorial animals, but that’s probably going a little too deep for a blog post…
Many people from all walks of life embrace an alter ego, whether its to separate fun from responsibility or to give them more confidence in situations they wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable in. When posing this thought to the powers of social media, burlesque performer Ruby Woo wrote “As soon as I think ‘OK, what would Ruby Woo do?’ I forget myself for 5 minutes because I’m in someone else's mind set.” Using a different name also can provide anonymity for those who would prefer to keep parts of their life completely separate. Miss Von Trapp replied “being Miss Von Trapp enables me to [differentiate] from my other roles as worker and mother.” My personal favourite response came from Divine Miss Em, who wrote “If the audience don't like what I do I can blame that naughty Divine Miss Em and not take it personally!”
Having an alter ego isn’t just about stage presence either. Lizzi Hobcraft, founder of Betty Blues Loungerie says that have an alter ego is an important part of her company branding. “It's like acting - you create a character that can project your 'brand'. I couldn't get up on stage and talk to an audience about me but ' Betty' is not me so somehow it is less scary.” Many other people responded in the same way that I feel about the name ‘Tigz’. “Miss Honey is the ultimate expression of 'me-ness' and a play on my nickname”, says hair and make up artist Miss Honey Bare, whilst actress Jo Richardson wrote “my [alter ego] embodies all the women I admire and who inspire me. I know when to leave her sleeping, and likewise, when to let her take the lead”
Embracing your alter ego is not only fun, but a great way to challenge yourself to new experiences, whether it is wearing more provocative underwear, applying for that promotion or jumping out of a plane! Why not try it – you might be surprised by your own capabilities…