Three Ways Pole Dance Improves Your Body Image

     Pole dance has many physical and mental benefits. When I started pole dancing, it was simply because I wanted a new way to exercise. I was expecting to get in shape and get stronger but I was not expecting to experience mental benefits from pole dance also. My body image and how I feel about my body has drastically improved since I started pole dancing and there are several ways pole dance accomplishes this for you.

     “I am too overweight/fat/fluffy to pole dance!” This is one of the many reasons I hear from women who would like to try but are concerned about their weight. I can assure you this should not be a reason that you don’t try pole dancing. You are physically able to pole dance no matter what size you are. When you take pole dance classes you learn to walk, spin, and climb the pole. You learn how to invert (or go upside) and other aerial tricks. You begin to feel proud of yourself and amazed at what your body can do. Your focus starts to turn towards your pole dance achievements instead what your body looks like. During your pole dance journey, you might start to see muscles or you might start to lose some weight if you are eating a proper diet too which can definitely help how you view your body. This is going to happen with any workout but what makes pole dance special is the sensual part that goes with it. No other workout that I can think of forces you to rub and touch and caress your body. It’s your body! Love on it! No one cares what your pudge looks like when you are hanging upside down the pole.

     A lot of the moves in pole dance require direct skin contact with the pole. If you were used to constantly covering up, you get used to exposing more skin. Even for spins, you have to wear shorts because wearing pants you can easily down the pole too fast which can cause injury. So it is time to show those legs! When I look back at the shorts I wore when I first started dancing compared to the shorts I wear now, it is so funny to me. My shorts used to be so long, loose, and boring for pole dance standards. I had honestly stopped paying attention what my body looked like because I was so displeased with it. To my surprise, I noticed when I started pole dancing, I have a really nice shaped butt which looks great in short shorts! Who knew? Pole dancing forces you to get out of your clothing comfort zone bottom line. Hello tank tops and when you get further along, midriffs (eek!). If the thought of showing your mid-section scares you, you are not alone at all. Many women do not like how this body part looks at all. The more you start to rock your pole dance attire, the more comfortable you get showing your skin! It is a beautiful thing to teach pole dance to women all shapes and sizes who are proudly wearing booty shorts and sports bras showing all their wonderful curves.

     As an African American woman, I constantly see and hear what I am supposed to look like. According to our mothers and grandmothers, we are either too fat or too skinny. To some African American men we have to have big ole booty in order to get recognized or complimented. The African American woman is constantly oversexualized in TV, music, and movies. This phenomenon is nothing new. The image of the African American woman being a Jezabel dates far back in American history. But this isn’t a history lesson. This is about how pole dance defies the image of the African American woman. Women who pole dance are athletic, sexy, and confident. There are plenty of African American women who twerk, grind, and body roll who are not promiscuous at all contrary to what your favorite hip hop song says. Pole dance helps the masses see you and your body in a complete different way. I live in Atlanta. Home of the famous strip clubs and people are always surprised to meet an African American woman who pole dances, that isn’t a stripper. We get to be part of something that shows how fit we are, that we do indeed workout, and we can show our bodies without being considered a hoe. Your body becomes a tool of empowerment for all women who feel marginalized in society.

     Women aren’t supposed to show their bodies if they aren’t a perfect size and pole dance works directly against that narrative. My Instagram feed is constantly filled with women of all sizes doing aerial tricks on the pole. I like to joke and say that I live in a bubble but honestly it would be great if society caught up and saw what pole dancers see on a regular basis. For the most part, pole dance is an extremely body positive community where you aren’t allowed to say you look fat or look like a whale or pick on your stomach size, it just simply isn’t something that pole dancers do. Instead we encourage dancers to love what they have and work with what you got.

     If you were to ask pole dancers what they love about pole dancing, a majority of them would give a reason that sounds something like “I love seeing what my body is capable of.” No matter what size you start at, pole dancing improves your body image in various ways. Seeing your body through a different lense can absolutely boost your confidence in life. This is one of the many ways pole dancing has physical and mental benefits. Pole dancing challenges you like no other workout I’ve ever experienced and having a positive body image because of it can help you become an even more sexy confident woman.