Body Image Part 2
I am not sure if I have mentioned this but I pole dance for fun and fitness.
When people hear the words pole dancing there are a few stereotypes that spring to mind. The first one is stripping. Unfortunately the classic image of a pole dancer is a woman in seven inch heels taking her clothes off while winding her body around a pole. There are women who do this and the majority of them get paid quite well but the modern phenomenon that is pole dancing is not about removing clothes it is about athleticism and gymnastics. Don’t believe me? Head on over to You Tube and look up some videos of Chelle Hafner or Jenyne Butterfly.
I will admit that the thing that I was looking for when I took my first class was the sexy dancing and the hope that I would learn to be as alluring as a stripper one day. I was very disappointed after an hour of strengthening and gymnastics style training with absolutely no dancing.
The second thing that springs to a lot of people’s minds when they think about pole dancing classes is a culture of young, attractive, flexible women with fantastic bodies. I will agree that there some pole dancers like that and there are definitely studios that cultivate that kind of clientele. But there are studios that don’t. On the whole I have found the pole dancing community to be one of the most accepting, empowering and encouraging communities to be around.
Being involved with pole dancing has been one of the key factors in my current ability to be mostly naked in a room full of strangers. This is because of the acceptance of everyone regardless of their size and shape. My current instructor is a wonderful supportive, encouraging person who fully embraces the idea that pole is all about your individual journey. She is the person that has convinced me that taking more than a year to invert confidently was not a shortcoming is was just how it was with me. She is also the person who has encouraged me to see that anything is achievable with enough work.
Going back to my experiences that I discussed in part one of this series I had an opportunity that evening to reflect on reverse body discrimination. As I already told you the evening was challenging for me because I felt that I was in the definite minority of people larger than size 10 getting naked in front of a crowd. There were of course women in the crowd who were supportive of me and as time went on I felt I was a little like the ‘big girl’s’ champion. What was a little distressing about the bigger girl’s group was their animosity towards the smaller women in the room.
I found myself correcting some of their negative and acrimonious comments towards some of these women trying to encourage a culture of acceptance of all body shapes. It is true that smaller more beautiful women definitely get more attention and in a lot of ways their life is easier but sometimes bigger people forget that these women experience as much negativity as they do. When they started spouting their negative comments had no comprehension that their attitude was exactly the same as the discrimination they hate receiving every day. Body acceptance is not just about being less offensive to fat people it is about accepting people exactly the way they are, whoever they are.
We are the product of our life experiences and we get out of life what we put in. It doesn’t matter what size we are. If we are negative all the time we will have a shitty life. In my experience that is how things work. When we see other people around us making choices we think are wrong or stupid we are only glimpsing a small part of their lives. For the most part we have absolutely no idea of what his happening with them. Wether we are tall, short, wide or thin we are all on a journey and we owe it to each other to remember that and cut each other some slack occasionally.