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EMPOWERMENT: practicing what we preach

There’s a lot of talk in the pole community about how empowering pole is. It is empowering. If my years in pole have taught me anything, it’s that pole gives women the strength and freedom to appreciate their bodies for what their bodies can do, even if they may not be over the moon about how their bodies look. And, at least speaking for most women, being able to appreciate anything about our bodies is a huge forward step.

To the men of pole: this post applies to you in nearly every way, I’m sure. However, I wrote it with the voice of a woman because that’s what I have experienced personally. I would love to have comments on this from male polers of the world!!!

POLE EMPOWERS

There’s a lot of talk in the pole community about how empowering pole is. It is empowering. If my years in pole have taught me anything, it’s that pole gives women the strength and freedom to appreciate their bodies for what their bodies can do, even if they may not be over the moon about how their bodies look. And, at least speaking for most women, being able to appreciate anything about our bodies is a huge forward step.

Women still have a long way to go, though — and in order to make real progress we need to stop bringing each other down. We can talk all we want about being part of a hypersexualized, patriarchal society, and it would all be true, but we inflict as much self-damage and woman-to-woman damage as society inflicts upon us.

We self-shame. Shame, shame, shame, shame, shaaaaaaaaaaame. As if there wasn’t already enough self-shame to go around for most of us, we get it in so many ways from our sisters. From other women.

We shame others who aren’t like us. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it because we hide it in pseudo-compliments.
We slut-shame
We prude-shame
We fat-shame
We thin-shame

If I think about how long it took me to get my shit together … without having been inundated by continuous input and taste-making from social media, I might add…..it’s depressing. It’s not too late for any of us, though.

That’s what this post is about.

The world is filled with women who are struggling daily with body image issues, who are immersed in this obsession with perfection as viewed through social media. Their only respite from it is us. Those of us who have finally gotten our shit together. Every time someone at the studio sees me frown at my reflection in the mirror, or sees me pinch a little hunk of love handle, she sees the reinforcement of what social media tells her all day, every day. If you aren’t perfect, you are less than. And it doesn’t matter if you’re thin, not-thin, tall, not-tall …. shame doesn’t care.

The Britney Spears Effect

I normally don’t follow celebrity media, but some trending news about Britney Spears recently caught my eye. She’d posted a picture to her Instagram account and the internet lost its mind. Why? Because it appeared that this “candid” picture of her lounging by the pool had been photoshopped to give her a super defined, tiny waist. Here’s the picture, in case you haven’t seen it:

briney_PSSure, it looks like someone did some waist-pinching in the image to the left. What concerns me is not that she did it … it’s that she apparently felt like she had to do it. That she was required to present herself this way.

 

 

In case you’re wondering, here is a presumably unretouched, recent photo so you can see the reality of what Brit is dealing with:

britney_nops

Guess what?

People didn’t like this one either…because she looks “anorexic.” And in some paparazzi-snapped shots from the same trip she’s lambasted as “fat” or “out of shape.” These comments are not all made by men, by the way. So we can’t chalk it all up to patriarchy.

 

Take this over to the pole community. We cannot say pole empowers women and then put women — INCLUDING OURSELVES — down.

EMPOWER YOURSELF. THEN EMPOWER OTHERS.

How many times have you — yes, YOU — pinched a love handle in the mirror and wrinkled up your face? Or stood for way too long eyeing every single perceived flaw in your body? Well then, you are part of the problem.

Love yourself. Do it aggressively! Admire yourself. Do that aggressively too!

I’ll tell you right now that I am part of the problem too, even though I’ve spent years trying not to be. It took me decades to get my shit together in terms of body confidence, and I still falter. And when I do that, I remind myself that I am a smart, capable woman whose can do kick-ass things that make other women cheer. I remind myself that those “flaws” are only flaws if I view them as such. I remind myself that I want to be an example for other women. I remind myself that if I want to help empower other women, I need to start by empowering myself.

Your challenge: for a month, make nothing but genuine, positive comments about yourself AND your fellow women. Be the proof that POLE EMPOWERS! #powerofpole

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