Pole Dancing Breaks Stereotypes and Empowers Women
By Naz Smyth
what image comes to mind when hearing the term “Pole dancer,”? For many people, these two words bring up the image of a high school drop-out with low self respect, taking off her clothes for money.
What if that image is not only wrong but outdated too? A woman who is a pole dancer is not necessarily stripping for money, and even if she is, it does not undermine her self respect.
There are many educated and powerful women of all ages and shapes who are confident and proud to show their bodies. Societies should stop shaming them for being naked when skin is exposed to grip the pole! Pole dancing is not only performed in clubs and street joints. It has become a hobby for many women because most pole dancers, regardless of age, are in the best shape of their lives.
Oftentimes students “pole sisters or flying partners” are college professors, nurses, accountants, engineers, or yes, even strippers.
Professions outside of the studio are irrelevant because during class, everyone is a pole dancers. Women come together to escape that world for an hour, to feel beautiful, to exercise to heal and much more.
Naz Smyth had her first experience two years ago with Groupon deal on a package for 5 classes. The first few sessions were hard and two years later it is still a challenging to learn a new trick but as women always do, they overcome the pain, (more importantly, the fear of pain) and grow strong quickly.
To be able to hang on the pole one must be able to hold their entire body weight with one or two hands, or just a leg, or sometimes even just tighten glute muscles. It has a healing and empowering result both physically, and emotionally. Pole dancing has proven to have a positive effect on women. It makes them feel like a bad-ass-ninja-goddesses who defies gravity and also defy stigmas.
Whether fully clothed and flowing on the pole with modern dance or ballet or trying crazy acrobatic tricks, rolling around on the floor in lingerie and 8-inch stilettos, women feel empowered.
Around the world, pole dancing has slowly become a mainstream phenomenon. In Mumbai, women even receive memberships to pole dancing studios as part of their employee benefits, according to recent article in the Times of India. Ismat Tahseenl writes that pole dancing is on the rise in India, and more females, ranging from age 7 – 50 are learning pole dance. It helps girls and women build confidence , celebrate their femininity, and be empowered.(Times of India)
Women learn to embrace their bodies regardless of shape and size. They all have different strength and pole caters to all of them. Some tricks require a lot of skin, and if you have extra “junk in the trunk” you will have a big advantage. There are moves for everyone in pole. Huffington Post shares a story of a plus size burlesque pole dancer who is self empowered through pole dancing, proving that pole dancing is for “anyone at any size.” Jamie Hines, whom the article is about, says “ it’s empowering feeling so strong.” She performs and although she sometimes receives nasty comments from audience members, she doesn’t let it affect her anymore. Pole dancing has given her the inspiration to spread her message of body positivity (Huffington Post).
It is hard to put pole dancing into just one category. It is a form of art, a sport, a self healing practice, a sexual empowerment practice and the list goes on and on. There are many who want pole dancing to become an Olympic sport. Stephen Smith wrote in a CBS news article that lobbyists are trying to achieve exactly that (CBS). Perhaps one day in our near future, we will be tuning in to the “Pole Dancing” segment of the summer Olympics.
Women are breaking gender stereotypes every day. As it is Women’s History Month, we are seeing how much things have changed, and how far women have come in the fight for equal rights. Huffington Post wrote an article about Brawny, a paper towel company. Brawny always featured a macho looking man on their logo, but just two days ago released a Brawny campaign featuring successful women and coined the hashtag #strengthhasnogender (Huffington Post).
Women are breaking stereotypes in every field. Naz Smyth, and her fellow pole sisters use pole dancing to break new ground.
Pole dancing has many health benefits as well. Ivan Dimitrijevic authored an article pointing out some obvious ones, such as burning calories quickly and becoming more flexible. Some health benefits that were more surprising, even to myself were developing greater kinesthetic awareness, balance, good heart and blood flow, and less pain during child birth due to developing exceptionally strong back and abdominal muscles (Life magazine) .
The best part of pole dancing, as noted in Shape magazine, is that a women can feel empowered specially in patriarchal societies. She does not feel the need to seek approval from anyone or to give her praise to boost her confidence. It comes from within.
Keep dancing people! Thank you for reading,