Pole dancers are amazing. Despite our amazing-ness, we still face a huge stereotype that almost everyone jumps to when we mention pole dancing: we’re all strippers.
This is the biggest misconception I’ve encountered about pole fitness, and it’s the hardest one to battle. It’s the reason that many of us are nervous to come out of our “pole closet” to friends, family, and even coworkers. My family even struggled to accept the difference! They have always been supportive. They knew that I wasn’t stripping, but they weren’t entirely sure about what this pole thing was. When Paula asked me to be on an Aerial Dance billboard, the first call I made was to my mother. She and her current boyfriend were concerned that it could affect my future and my hire-ability once I got out of college. I ignored those concerns, like your average 20-something, and did it anyways. My mother continued to express her concerns until I went to take a “selfie” with the billboard. Tell me, is this, stripping?
Abso-freeking-lutely NOT. My mother saw that billboard, and completely changed her tune. I explained, once again, how hard Paula works to preserve the Aerial Dance image. I told her my Christmas show story, again, which goes like this: I wanted to take my shirt off while in a Cross Ankle Recline so that my belly was exposed for an Embrace during my Christmas routine one year. Paula said NOPE. Though I was sad, it made sense: We can’t give ANYONE a reason to pair us with the stereotype we’re trying to avoid!
It was scariest for me to come out of my pole closet to my coworkers. When I started working at the credit union, I stayed in my pole closet for a while. I came out of it to a select few coworkers, but kept it a secret from most. For context, all of my coworkers are female except the President/CEO. My branch manager (the CEO’s wife, by the way) sent me a Facebook friend request a few months into my employment, and it was a moment of truth: Come out of the pole closet, or go deeper? To be or not to be, that is the question.
I accepted the friend request. I had just posted a pole picture the day before, and continued to post pole pictures as I took them at class. At Monday’s staff meeting, my branch manager said to everyone,” I found out something about Breanna this weekend–she does pole dancing!” I got confused looks and giggles from my coworkers. I knew they were entertaining the stereotype. I gave an explanation, and over the next couple days, answered their many questions and showed them many pictures. Other than the other MSRs on the line with me that morning, the first people to ask questions were the CEO and branch manager–the two people that I felt had the most power over my employment and the ones I was most afraid of telling. I’ve found that people are far more accepting once they have a true understanding of what pole dancing actually is. I am happy that my branch manager said something–it’s so much easier when I don’t feel that I have to hide anything!
You shouldn’t feel like you have to hide it. You shouldn’t feel ashamed. I mean, seriously, look at what you can do on a pole. You ought to be damn proud. Stay strong in the face of stripper stereotypes, and remind them of this:
Do strippers dance with poles? I’m certain many do. Do all people who dance on poles strip? NO.
Keep on spinning! 🙂