In August I celebrated my three-year pole dancing anniversary but I didn’t get the chance to write about it because I was too busy getting angry about the Instagram shadowban. Yet, pole dancing really has changed my life and I wanted to give it the credit it deserves in this (hopefully) a bit more lighthearted post than usual. If you want to read my life story you can find it here and here.
1 – I Have Become A Hypochondriac For Fear Of Not Pole Dancing
I was the type of child who would do cartwheels when she had awful fevers. Now I live in fear of getting injured or ill and not being able to pole. So I see the doctor a bit more often than usual… have I become that immigrant who steals jobs and takes advantage of the NHS? Oh dear.
2 – I Now Listen To Popular Music
Before I started pole dancing, I was a hardcore metalhead who would not listen to anything beyond 1995 or, at the very least, to anything that was mildly pop. Initially I didn’t even want to. Then it became one of my quirks, a reputation thing that I wanted to keep up because… I don’t know… I wanted to feel different. Whatever.
I was young, but mostly I was not very fun to go clubbing with: by rejecting any form of popular music, I would not enjoy going out and dancing because the music they played in clubs didn’t match my taste. I couldn’t have conversations about the brilliance of new albums and their importance for pop culture because I was still listening to Appetite For Destruction 10 times a day (ofc I am exaggerating this, but you get the idea).
In 2015, I didn’t even know who Drake was. Then I started pole dancing, just for the sake of feeling less lonely while doing a Master in Australia, and to try a new sport that didn’t have me all up in my head like running. Suddenly I had to suck it up: Kanye West, Drake, Ariana Grande and the likes were in my instructors’ playlists, and I couldn’t just turn them off.
While I admit that knowing who sings the lyrics of “Been around the world, don’t speak the language, but your booty don’t need explaining” (spoiler alert: it’s Jason Derulo, and you’ve got to read this in a whisper like he says his own name) hasn’t changed my life, I am now a normal person who enjoys pop music. And this is great. Not only so much of my academic research now embeds popular culture into sociology and criminology; my playlists are less boring and monotone, my life is richer and my friends hate me way less. This is great.
Full disclosure: I still enjoy metal a lot. Together with 80s rock, it’s my favourite genre to dance to – and to twerk to, too. The hair flicks get WILD.
3 – I Have A Very Stretched View Of Decency
I am 100% that bitch. That bitch who is naked even before the nurse during my annual smear test tells me: “I’ll give you five minutes to get changed.”
4 – I Am Now In Love With My Body
A few weeks ago I filmed another section of a documentary about the relationship between pole dancing and my mental health, and oh boy, did my friends deliver in their explanation of that.
I probably hadn’t vocalised it, but essentially by seeing so many people wearing very little clothing on a daily basis, I’ve become more at ease with showing my body, despite its flaws. Plus, once you start pole dancing you get stronger, your body changes and you don’t only accept your body as it is for what it can do: you actually watch it get better and better.
Let it be clear that I am not advocating for fitness or a six-pack. In fact, every time I receive a message about what I did for my body to look like this I respond with: I train often, I enjoy training, I only do pole. That’s it. I am doing what works for myself, but I am not actively starving or over-training myself for the sake of losing weight or having a six-pack. I haven’t been on a scale since 2017.
Everything that has happened to my body since I took up pole has been a welcome surprise, and I am in no position to tell people who might have different needs, bodies, characteristics what they should to. I personally think that the beauty in seeing a half-naked body in pole is in how that body moves, not in whether it has cellulite or not.
5 – I Have Become A Better Feminist
You don’t have to pole dance to love your body and realise that all bodies are beautiful in their own way. But I wasn’t in that headspace before starting pole – I had problems with binge-eating and hated my body after an abusive relationship/ sexual assault. I was ashamed of myself and was therefore way more judgmental towards others. Pole changed that and made me realise beauty isn’t really in just one type of body, and that women or everyone should be allowed to look however they want / feel like without being judged.
You don’t have to be a pole dancer to care about issues such as sex workers’ rights, but this is something I never even wondered about before of starting my pole dancing journey. The sport I love comes from stripping and I am glad I have come across so many amazing pole dancers and strippers who opened my eyes to the different kinds of freedom women can gain from sex work, preventing me from being a judgmental wanker.