100 Women We Love: Tawnya Sweetpea Konobeck
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As a teen, Tawnya Konobeck struggled with her weight and an eating disorder. While an undergrad studying education, she began working at a gym, eventually becoming a personal trainer. Konobeck never finished her student teacher requirements—instead, she discovered burlesque and became "Sweetpea," her stage persona. "I was drawn to it as a beautiful combination of things I loved: costuming, vintage aesthetic, dancing," she says. But she soon realized that burlesque also offered a path to "radical self-love, acceptance and a reclaiming, reveling [in] full-spectrum sexuality." Instead of teaching English, Sweetpea began using burlesque to teach mindfulness in how we inhabit and connect with our bodies, and share them with others. She also loved the sheer joy of it. Almost 10 years later, Sweetpea is still having a blast as the “Cyclone Seductress & Tornado Teaser” of the Twin Cities, performing at festivals, competitions and queer shows. She's also active in "anything that uplifts" the LGBTQ community, specifically producing lesbian, queer, transwomen and femme events and entertainment. Voted one of the World's Top 100 Burlesque Performers, Sweetpea is the top hip-shaker at Sweet P.E., the company that manages and promotes all things Sweetpea. –DN