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The Power of Pole: How Pole Dance Helped Me Improve My Body Image

When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? In today's society, having a positive body image is somewhat of a rebellious act. Capitalism requires us to believe we are lacking somehow so that we feel compelled to purchase our way out of feeling inadequate. Body image is defined as:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Seeing the beauty in others can come easily to us, especially when it has become a daily habit to compare your real, live, unfiltered self to other people's carefully curated photos on social media. But, the sad thing is how hard it can be to see the beauty in yourself. When I was in my early 20's, my friend saw an advert in the paper offering pole dancing classes nearby and I thought, "Why not?!" The advert told us to bring shorts so we packed a pair of thigh-length sports shorts and headed along to our first class...and I have been hooked ever since!

The evolution of pole and body image

Pole dancing was still considered a taboo subject by many when I started, and was strongly associated with strippers. Although pole is still connected to its roots in exotic dance, it has come a long way since it entered the world of fitness and is now officially recognized as a sport, even being considered for the Olympics.

Not only is it possible to enjoy exercising whilst learning some seriously impressive, gymnastic moves and dance routines, but it has also been the most empowering move I could have made to improve my own body image. Gone are the days of wearing long shorts or a baggy t-shirt to class, I can now confidently strut my stuff wearing the least amount of clothes possible in front of a full class! It is now a joy to see how many others feel the same way, and proudly sport their latest pole outfit without feeling like they need to hide certain parts of themselves.

Pole is good for the soul!

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how pole dance has taught me to love my body as it brings so much enjoyment to my life in many ways. I spoke to Kira Grant, Pole Instructor and owner of Sunshine Fitness & Pole Studio in Fife, Scotland, to explain the power of pole and its effect on body image.

"Walking into a room and seeing bodies of all different shapes and sizes does something to the soul. Seeing cellulite and stretch marks being worn loud and proud makes you realise they are completely normal, and beautiful! Most people will start pole wearing as many clothes as possible, but they quickly realise that the parts of their body they usually want to hide away from the world are the same parts that are holding them up off the floor. There is something so empowering about realising the tummy you usually hate is actually allowing you to grip the pole, and the thighs you normally cover with baggy trousers are allowing you to climb to the ceiling! Eventually, you start looking at your body and are proud of what it has achieved. Pole lets us celebrate our bodies and allows us to embrace our sexuality and sensuality. It is a space where there is no judgement, and everyone is free to be their authentic self"

Comparison is the thief of joy

When I first started pole dancing, I had no expectations of what it could do for me, other than the joy of trying something new. Pole welcomes all shapes, sizes, and sexualities, and helps you to appreciate your body for all the amazing things it allows us to experience. Our body gives us the opportunity to sense the world around us, feel a spectrum of wonderful emotions, and move and dance in ways that can bring so much joy and connection. So instead of comparing yourself with others online or in magazines, why not get yourself to a pole class and start appreciating your body for what it is, a wonderful work of art that is unique to you? The joy you get from the freedom of movement and the empowerment from expressing your sexuality in a pole class can be a powerful way to improve your relationship with your body.

We all have days where we don't feel our best, but when you step out of a pole class you always feel better than you did when you went in. So why not try it and see for yourself how wonderful your body actually is, as it is right now in all its seemingly imperfect glory?


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