Re-Framing Pole Dancing and Body Positivity
“What? Pole dancing? Are you trying to become a stripper?”
No! Why does stripping always come to mind when pole dance is mentioned?
Pole dancing can be traced all the way back to more than 800 years ago in China and India, as both a sport and a performance, for males. It is only recently that they started using poles in strip clubs (plus, what’s wrong with strippers?). Over the last decade, pole fitness or pole dancing has become one of the most popular fitness activities for the public, both males and females. It is a fitness activity that require a significant amount of upper-body strength, core strength, and flexibility (If you don't believe this, go to a trial class! ;)).
Did you know?
Over the last few months, Instagram banned a lot of hashtags related to pole dancing. This includes a system that was used greatly among pole dancers and their communities, the #pd system, where they include #pd before the name of the move to assist others in finding videos and pictures. More absurdly, they even banned the hashtag “femalefitness” while it was perfectly fine to use the hashtag “malefitness.” Even though Instagram had officially un-banned these hashtags, it was ridiculous for them to be banned in the first place.
This is a clear evidence that sexism still exist in our society, and even more clear evidence for the fact that until all groups are free, no one is free. If we continue to oppress a group, all other groups that are also oppressed for similar or different reasons will still be oppressed in one way or another. Through oppression and not standing up for ourselves, it is sending a message to the oppressor that it is okay to think that their group is superior.
A lot of people were not supportive of pole dancers because it was “inappropriate” content for their children that would negatively affect their little minds. As an educator, I am all about teaching children “the good stuffs.” However, I simply cannot wrap my head around the fact that a sport that is associated with stamina, beauty, and body positivity is somehow bad for children.
But they wear so little!
People do not sexualize a swimming athlete while they are competing in their swimsuit because most people understand that the outfit is part of the sport. However, what a majority of the people cannot/will not understand is that pole dancing also requires the athletes to be wearing so little so their body and skins can grip onto the pole safely. Just like any other sports or activities, pole dancers wear less clothing because it is required as part of it. Even if they are wearing so little on purpose, that is not a reason to oppress and sexualize another individual (both males and females).
The pole dancing community and body positivity
Pole dancers are the most confident and self-empowering group of individuals I have ever met. Despite how much the general public criticizes them, they continue to do what they love. “Roz the Diva” is one of my pole dancing role models. She is inspiring and encourages others to embrace their true natural beauty. Being an “oversize” woman, as labelled by mainstream social media, she has so much love, energy and positivity in her to spread to everyone who is not confident enough in themselves.
The pole dancing community is very welcoming and encouraging, especially to those who think they are not good enough. Being brought up in a culture and a household where I was taught to always be humble, and that there is always room to improve more, I had a lack of confidence. I cannot even count how many times I have told my instructor that “I can’t do it because I am not [good/fit/beautiful/strong/flexible/etc] enough,” but after hours and hours of practicing, here I am, doing a move that I’ve once told myself that I will never be able to do. When I first started pole fitness, I was so self-aware of the fact that I do not have the most perfect bikini body. But so what? Neither do my classmates or most regular people I see on the street. Plus, nobody is even looking at me during class as they are all busy embracing and trying to become a better version of themselves. Being reassured repeatedly, I regained my confidence. It is no longer “I can’t do it,” but it is now “I can’t do it yet.”
Even if you are not interested in trying pole fitness, you should be proud of who you are and your amazing body. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to show it off because of other people. At the end of the day, you shine the brightest in your own universe. I hope everybody who reads this article can take a step back and see what they think of their body. Remember, every little imperfection or insecurity you find in your body is what makes you special and beautiful.