When people find out that I pole dance, the reactions are mixed.
Some people are genuinely curious. They’ll ask me what crazy moves I can pull off and how much upper body strength is needed to do them. These interactions excite me and help me feel comfortable about sharing my passion with those around me.
But others — usually those who have preconceived, sexualized notions about pole dancing — are shocked. I’ve had to endure more than my fair share of anti-sex work jokes about me becoming a “stripper.”
My response is almost always the same: I explain that those jokes are problematic and contribute to the marginalization of a large group of people.
I wish the attitudes toward this transformative experience for myself and others would change. Pole dancing is an outlet that many use to feel liberated and empowered.
I remember walking into my first pole dance class. I was nervous but excited to try something new.
It was beyond challenging to grip the pole and pull off even some of the most basic moves. But instead of feeling defeated, I purchased a membership because I wanted to progress.
I showed up to class three times a week, and worked my way up to intermediate classes.
Over the past two years, pole dancing has encouraged me to feel proud of my body and embrace its capabilities. It’s truly meant for everybody and every body.
Improving my stamina and strength over the years has given me the biggest confidence boost and a sense of sexual liberation.
The creativity in the routines and my control of the fluidity allows me to break free from society’s expectations of what people should be doing with their bodies.
Pole dancing is physically and mentally challenging, but nothing feels better than stretching my limits and mastering this form of art.
Being in a supportive pole studio, I’ve learned to be more in touch with my sensuality and express myself more freely. I’ve made connections with my fellow pole dancers, and they’ve provided me with so much support and encouragement as I trained.
Of course, there’s work to be done in the pole dancing community, too. While most of the community is fighting for sex workers’ basic rights, there are dancers who try to distance themselves from the origins of pole, posting videos of themselves using the hashtag #NotAStripper.
Although pole dancing is becoming more mainstream, I hope that society will recognize its many benefits, eliminate the negative stigmas associated with it, and mind their business. Let people do what they want with their bodies without over-sexualizing them.
Kiana Hodge is a news editor and can be reached at email@example.com