It was a little bit saddening that the initial reaction of the Stellar on Broadway audience, specifically the first-time poledancing spectators, was directed at the performers’ builds rather than the feats they achieved. I was reminded of just how distorted people’s perspective is on beauty. And it is that very idea which lead me to write this long piece.
People from all walks of life come to the pole studio to learn the craft. You have to applaud each and everyone who’s tried it. This is because before the dancing, learning tricks and being fit, there is one other thing you have to do, which is taking your clothes off. It’s no joke and that’s probably the hardest thing about it. You are clad in nothing but a sports bra and skimpy shorts because poledancing requires skin contact with the pole. It’s not necessarily because poledancers want to dress that way, it’s because they have to in order to do stunts.
Unlike swimming, there’s no water to hide in. Lotion, body makeup and other things you may want to apply to hide imperfections are all discouraged because you’d end up slipping off the pole. It’s cold and slippery and a huge amount of squeezing is required for you to manage tricks. Quite unfortunately, the very same act that keeps you on the pole is the one thing that makes your body look far from being sweet and toned. Yet you’d squeeze and hold on to dear life rather than slip off, fall flat on your butt or on your face. Each of the tricks requires strength so exertion is inevitable. With struggle comes the most awkward poses (and facial expressions) you never deemed possible. And you pull it off, sweaty and half-naked. To make it even worse, there is no such thing as live Photoshop.
Poledancing is the real deal. These are not models or celebrities. These are real women. The truth is that cellulite is real. Having flabs is real. So are full breasts, flat chests, flat butts and fat asses. So are short torsos and limbs. So are lanky arms or manly arms and many others. Few will have milky skin free from dry patches, dark spots and other imperfections. There are so many other ways to scrutinize a woman’s body that it’ll make your head spin.
Spinning. However, it becomes as clear as ever. We hide because we were taught that real is ugly. We are on a diet every damn day of our lives. Or worse, we are enslaved by miraculous weight loss programs, cosmetic surgeries, crash diets and eating disorders. The audience was no doubt unprepared. They were confused as to what made these girls so confident of their less than perfect figures. And just the same the poledancers were confused as to what there was to be ashamed of. Nothing.
Poledancing is revolutionary in that aspect. We surround ourselves with half-naked women and without realizing we have learned to accept differences and mind little of the shapes and sizes. And the biggest surprise is we accepted our own imperfections too. We’re too busy with our tricks anyway. I’m proud of that and I am proud of my teachers and my classmates. It’s not much but it’s a start. I’m not saying we’d dismiss the whole concept of having an athlete’s body or maybe shed a few pounds but we have certainly learned to be more lenient. If people become more forgiving then women won’t be as pressured to be like that image of a Photoshopped, surgically-enhanced, fully made-up young model on a glossy magazine. I don’t really know where I’m getting at. Maybe it’s a long shot, unlikely or even shallow and irrelevant. But maybe, just maybe if poledancing broke into the mainstream, the world will be a better place for women.