Body image and pole dance: You mean I can’t wear pants and a sweater?

8645830c0a7e066b8848f47e46a87d29I realized early on pole dancing was going to push me beyond my comfort zone — what a misnomer that is. Staying locked within those very narrow boundaries has kept me in a constant state of anxiety — but as I’ve progressed, it’s beginning to change my priorities in ways I hadn’t given much thought to.

A laundry list of body image issues has led me to live my life covered from head to toe nearly all the time. No bathing suits. No shorts. No tank tops. And it’s never mattered how hot I might be or how ridiculously out of place my clothes might make me look. Nothing has been more important than hiding.

It didn’t take long to realize I would have no choice but to endure wearing shorts, something that still makes me uncomfortable if I’m being honest. But I do it. And once we get started, I quickly forget that I don’t feel great about my legs and someone just might — gasp! — see them.

But I’ve never been willing to get down to anything more revealing than a t-shirt, and it’s been interfering with my progress. I’m working on leg hangs, and I’ve been told I would have it if I would simply bare my stomach so I could get the necessary grip. My initial reaction was to say no, but eventually I forced myself to lift my shirt a little to see what my teacher was talking about.

My t-shirt gets in the way when I’m conditioning for shoulder mounts too. And although my negative feelings about my body haven’t resolved, I’m tired of not being able to put forth my best effort so I can cover up a few more inches of my body that no one but me cares about or notices anyway.

I’ve worn a tank top to class a few times now. And the first time my cruel mind had half convinced me I would be ridiculed for every imperfection the minute I removed my sweater. Needless to say that didn’t happen. Everyone went about their business, and it reminded me that self-loathing really just makes you self-absorbed, which doesn’t serve anyone. Ever.

So with two weeks left on my three-month membership at a beautiful studio called Addiction — no misnomer there — with wonderful, supportive teachers and kind, talented students, I find myself looking for a couple decent sports bras to wear to class so I can focus on my physical ability rather than my flaws.

And getting that down might be even more important than getting that leg hang…but I still want both.

4 thoughts on “Body image and pole dance: You mean I can’t wear pants and a sweater?

  1. Thanks for your post on this. I’ve always hated my legs, I don’t LIKE the rest of me but my legs have always been a point of….special discomfort. I don’t really know what it stems from… maybe that my upper body is quite long compared to my lower… I don’t know. But I’ve never worn shorts; knee length skirts have always been my go-to on warm days.

    It never occurred to me that self-loathing is a form of self-absorbency but you’re completely right! I mean, I think as women we are always worried/thinking about what others are thinking of us but the truth is… how often are we thinking about that many other people? I don’t see a group of people and look at each one and wonder about this or that so what makes me think that all these people would be focused on me? Much less focused on what I’m worried about…

    I’m still a beginner when it comes to pole but I’ll sport the shorts. I still leave a tank top over my sports bra until I start doing things that need my side flab, then I’ll take it off. I really did initially feel uncomfortable, but the fact that the other girls in my class are a range of different sizes, weights, ages and skills I think helped me open up to the fact that if they don’t care… I should work on not caring too. :)

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It would probably benefit all of us to remember no one pays half as much attention to our flaws as we do. By the way, I wore a sports bra in class today for the first time and the theory checks out. No one noticed or cared.

  2. I completely get it with the clothes. I have never been too modest about my legs probably because I tend to quickly build muscle in them any time I work out making them actually look fatter in a pair of pants that don’t have stretch than I do in a mini skirt. On the other hand I don’t like my mid-section much at all and I still refuse to show my belly. Over time I have let go and the shorts are now way shorter than I would have thought and like you I started in a t-shirt and longer pair of shorts. Now I actually look for a tank top that shows all the key areas that need to stick to the pole and if need be I will fold the top up. While I am still self-conscious about my stomach the I have found that now that I can do such amazing things with my body my now strong body it matters a lot less than it used to!

    • Thanks, Carrie. It’s amazing how pole allows you to look at your body in a new light, for all the amazing things it can do and the even more exciting things it may do in the future.

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