February 23, 2017
All I Need in This Life of Sin, Is me and My Pole Friends
One year ago I started pole classes because I got distracted Christmas shopping online. I was looking for a gym membership I could buy for my mother on Groupon. I ended up buying a one-month membership to Studio 3SixT for myself. This turned out to be the best 2 am online shopping decision I’ve made.
I’m not sure when I first learned to hate my body. What middle school crush taught me that my hips were too wide. What movie taught me that my thighs were too thick, my feet to big. Or more scarily, I’m not sure when I internalized that every perceived “flaw” I had made me unworthy of love or respect.
Prior to starting pole classes, I would exercise almost exclusively out of self-hate. I would go to the gym everyday motivated by my anger towards and desire to change my body. There was no feminist theory or pep talk from friends that had ever broke that evil cycle. My inner monologue was always “you aren’t pretty/skinny/normal yet, but if we keep going to the gym…” or “10 more minutes on the elliptical and maybe I’ll lose weight today”.
Missy was the instructor for the first class I took. She was fire. Her confidence was contagious and I was in awe of her strength. I wanted to move like she did, grounded in herself, confident in her body. Every class I went to I became more and more addicted. Not just to the pole dancing itself, but also to the supporting and inclusive space the studio offered.
Unlike other exercise classes, the instructors never emphasize weight loss or “getting hotter” as a goal. Instead it is regularly reinforced that everyone is already sexy.
I never attended a class because of what my body could be, only because of what it could do. I now measure my athletic accomplishments in mastering new tricks and building the strength to advance, not in how much weight I’ve lost or gained.
In pole, I’ve found an almost exclusively women family that celebrates each other’s bodies. In our world where women are taught to cut each other down, our pole family builds each other up. This goes beyond issues of body image. When I was going through a lot of abuse at work, my pole sisters reminded me that I was a strong and passionate person who could find a better job somewhere else. They gave me the courage to apply for other jobs. Over this past year, I’ve watched my pole family fill each other with courage many times. The courage to release your hands for the first time into a crucifix. The courage to strip down into a sexy bikini bottom and do body rolls in 8 inch heels. Or sometimes the courage to take risks, make hard decisions, or even just get out of bed when things feel rough.
I took 200 classes in one year. That was 200 acts of self-care. 200 moments of resistance to our patriarchal society that tries to cut women down. 200 times I defied the notion that good girls don’t dance on poles. Here’s the cut, If good girls are supposed to fight each other, hate themselves, and deny their sexuality, I’m done being a good girl. Instead I’ll be a pole warrior with the 3SixT Family, and we’ll break down these unhealthy expectations together.
And just you wait and see all the cool pole moves I’ll learn along the way!