Pole has opened a lot of doors for me that I would have never thought possible. One of them is the ability to model. I always dreamed about being a model when I was a little girl, but never thought I had the looks for it. Since I started working out, I’ve gotten the confidence to try things I’ve always wanted to do.
I joined a few modelling groups online, posted a few pictures I had and before I knew it, I had several photographers wanting to shoot with me. It was almost overwhelming at first, I didn’t think anything would actually come from it.
I did several photo shoots throughout the summer, which allowed me to build a portfolio. I worked with a bunch of different photographers with very different styles, allowing me learn what works for me best. I took in all the advice and tips the photographers gave me since it all was new to me.
One photo shoot I ended to getting published in 2 online magazines! I was on cloud nine, was so proud of being published. In that moment, I realized I can do anything when I really put the work into it.
I did it! I competed! I competed in Verticlove’s Great White North Pole Competition. It was my first competition so I entered the amateur division. The song I choose was the acoustic version of TLC’s “Unpretty.” My costume was white lace top and bottoms with a sheer robe and 8 inch Pleaser heels. I wrote body shaming words on my body which was shown when I opened my robe at the beginning of the song. As the song goes on, I find my confidence through pole dancing and shed the robe at the end showing the words Beautiful and Strong on my biceps.
I loved my concept for the performance and kept my choreography to tricks I knew really well. Where it went wrong was not practicing it enough to really make it flow, clean up my inverts and lines in poses. I also didn’t practice writing the words on my body. I accidentally ended up buying permanent paint to write the words. My concept was to smear the body shaming words as I dance so show that I’m wiping the negativity away. But since the paint was permanent, it did not wipe off, and it was not dark enough for the audience to see it clearly.
After I performed, I was too nervous to watch the other competitors. I walked around the Hamilton harbour during a thunderstorm and reflected on my performance.
I didn’t end up placing but I felt a winner just getting up on stage to compete. It was an amazing experience and learnt a lot for future performances. It was good to get the first one under my belt as now I have a better understanding of what the judges are looking for.
Where are you? Why are you hiding? My energy levels and drive have been low. I try to eat better but then slip backwards into old habits. My progress in aerial has been slower. I’m at a plateau.
I see other people grow above me. I get frustrated at how my lack of advancement.
Why can I not handspring yet? Am I just not strong enough? I am doubting my abilities. The other things in my life have taken over. My dreams seem like they are no longer obtainable.
I wasn’t sure how to proceed from here. So I thought looking back may help. I recently reread this blog. It reminded me where I started from and how far I’ve come. Just within the last year, I created this blog, a brand for myself and started performing. Later this year, I will be competing and getting my instructor certification.
I also looked but at my pole board on Pinterest. I used to spend hours looking through pole pictures and videos for inspiration and motivation. I took some time revisiting my pins, which reminded me how I fell I love with pole. And how obsessed I was with it. Whenever I listened to music, I thought of poling. Whenever I shopped for clothes, I looked for new pole clothes. Whenever I was out anywhere, I looked for a pole to play on.
My handspring will come. It took me a year and a half to do a shoulder mount. More than half my battle is mental. I need to keep believing in myself. I need to stop looking at others with envy, instead let them inspire and teach me. I too can do it. No more excuses. I had so many goals at the beginning of the year. I know once I start training regularly again my passion will return.
On June 3rd, SASS had its Tribute student showcase. I somehow ended up agreeing to be in 4 routines! Part of me thought that I was biting off more than I can chew.
The first performance, I did a Prince Purple Rain solo routine. I didn’t have much time to practice so I took the Beatles routine I did last year for the Paradisaea spring recital and modified it a little. Since that routine didn’t go over very well at that recital, this was my redemption. I also decided to let my daughter, Brooklyn, join me in the routine and let her freestyle. It was a special moment sharing the stage with her. She sees how hard mommy works training for a show and asked if she could be part of it. She loved being a superstar and hanging out backstage with all the girls!
The second and third performances were both group routines that I had learned in class. The first one was a level 1 routine and the second was a routine from the floor work and transitions class I took.
For my last routine, I did I solo hoop performance. Since I have only taken 2 classes, I was nervous putting a full routine together. I hung my hoop outside on the kids swing set and managed to come up with a fairly decent routine. I was the happiest with the hoop routine as it was the most out of my element. Although, my Purple Rain costume was my favourite and I liked how I performed in Pleasers, pointe shoes and bare feet.
Two weeks after that showcase was the summer recital. I was so sick that I was throwing up all day. I got sick right before each performance. But I didn’t want to back out of the show and let anyone down, luckily I made it through both shows without an problem!
I had signed up for Verticalove’s Something Wicked right after the Girlie Show. I wanted to challenge myself with something new. So, I decided I would teach myself how to dance in ballet pointe shoes to the hip-hop song Ballerina by Belly. My concept was fusing the pointe shoes and elements of a ballerina costume with pole. I bought the shoes at the end of November and started breaking them in.
I had a great training plan set up for the New Year, unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. I got hand, mouth and foot disease which prevented me from training for a bit. After that, I was sick for a week. And then shortly after that I pulled a tendon in my bicep. I got hit with one thing after another, making it difficult to consistently train. I suffered with my arm injury for a month and I then finally went to physio for treatment. I took time off completely while my arm was getting treated. Right when my arm was better, I had to go in for surgery on my breast implant…a week before I was to perform.
I managed to put a routine together in between all of that, but it was no where near perfected. I wish I had the opportunity to tweak the routine and clean it up. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to before the surgery so I would have to go with what I had. I put in tricks in that I knew well as I knew I would still be recovering. A week after my surgery, I practiced the routine twice and to see if I as going to have to make any changes. It went ok, so decided to stick with what I had. The next day though, my stitches really hurt and I was nervous that I pushed myself too hard. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to perform in 3 days.
I felt better after a few days of rest. The day of the show, I went to practice on the stage during rehearsals to map it out. After that, I went home to work on a few transitions and then rested until I had to get ready.
I wasn’t as nervous as I was at the Girlie Show before going on stage. The first half of the routine went as well, until my mask moved out of place. I decided to take it off, but didn’t realize it was double knotted so it not slip off easily. The top the the mask pulled my hair out of place right before my ending combo. I was disappointed that had happened.
The following few days, I was pretty bummed about the whole thing. I wasn’t thrilled with the pictures as I have taken time off training and not eating very well. I felt fat. I was being quite hard on myself. But then a friend reminded me that most people wouldn’t have even been able to do that at all. Let alone, recovering from injury and surgery. Despite feeling unprepared, I had pulled it off.
Things don’t always work out the way you want but the important thing is how you handle it, learn from it, and move on.
I have had a lot of conversations lately regarding feminism. Some feminists believe that artists like Madonna and Lady Gaga degrade woman just like Donald Trump does. They argue that they are creating a double standard as they want equality but by using their sexuality, they are degrading women by making themselves sexual objects.
I and other women that are confident with their sexuality would disagree. Woman use their own sexuality to empower themselves. They own it because it’s theirs and they can do whatever they want with it. They are taking back the power and using it to be able to express themselves. There is nothing degrading about that and there is no double standard. There is a huge difference between choosing to use your own sexuality and being grabbed by the pussy by a man. The latter is unconsentual and degrading as that is treating a woman as a sexual object. The woman in the above meme are artists performing on stage. As I am an artist that performs on stage and expresses my sexuality, I understand these women. They are successful, beautiful women that have made a career for themselves. For example, Madonna spent most of her career telling women its okay to be sexual beings. She was sexually assaulted when she was young and had devoted herself to taking back her sexuality and owning it.
Similar to this meme, was the one created by the London Abused Women’s Center last September. They pulled out of a local Take Back the Night event because the pole studio The Pole House were going to be doing demonstrations at the event. They then posted this meme, which basically stated that pole dancers are asking to be assaulted. This obviously enraged the pole community around the world. Pole is about empowering ourselves and other women and this group judged before bothering to educate themselves about the sport.
Emma Watson’s response to the conversely of her topless photo in Vanity Fair was on point. She said “Feminism is about having a choice. It’s not a stick with which to beat other women. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my [breasts] have to do with it…They’re saying I can’t be a feminist and have boobs.” Women putting other women down is the complete opposite of feminist thinking. So many women are unhappy with themselves, but instead of getting out there to change it, they sit on there couch on social media and blast other women that have put themselves out there. They slut and body shame, they try to make themselves feel better by putting other women down. I don’t have many girl friends anymore because they are jealous and judge. Some off my best girl friends are my pole sisters because we understand each other. We support each other, regardless of appearance or abilities. We are strong women that work very hard physically and mentally to improve and challenge ourselves. That is what feminism is all about. Let’s be a sisterhood instead of tearing each other apart.
At the beginning of the year, I took a screenshot from Cleo’s Rock ‘n’ Pole that will be my dance goal for 2017. It was the perfect move to try to master as I’ve been really wanting to learn how to twerk. I have figured out that it is all in the hips, but can’t seem to get it yet. I’ve been watching videos for inspiration and tips how to do it. No videos of me yet as I’m really awful so far. I am determined to master twerking this year. I’m open to any videos or tips that anyone else has to offer!
I ended 2016 with posting a recent picture of me and my body stats:
December 31, 2016
Body Fat: 23%
Waist: 27 inches
I posted it to hold myself accountable towards my goals and to keep pushing.
I started stretching as I really want to gain flexibility. I have been using the techniques I learned in the flexibility workshop last October.
My goal is to train 5 days a week:
1. Silks (class)
2. Stretching (at home)
3. Pole (classes)
4. Hoop (at home)
5. Pole (at home)
I don’t have set days for the training at home, as it will vary with my schedule. The first step was setting goals, the next step is to commit to them!!
I received my Christmas gift from my husband, which an lyra hoop from Juggle Gear. The day I received it, I couldn’t wait to get it up and rigged. I was afraid I wouldn’t remember the tricks I learned from the workshop I did last August. It didn’t take long to get it all back though!
At the end of December, I participated in the Paradisaea winter recital. I worked hard on a drop called mission impossible that I was having difficultly with. The week before the show, I finally nailed it and was confident I could execute the trick in the show.
The first show went great, all my tricks went perfectly. The only thing was that I was in the back for the whole show. I climbed really high so that my family could see me in the back.
So in the second show, I was offered to switch spots to the front during the mission impossible trick. I was excited to be up front, but I could feel my body was really tired from a very long weekend. After I did the drop, I realized that the fabric was too high and tight on my waist and I was stuck 7 feet off the ground. My instructor had to get the ladder to get me down! I was so embarrassed and disappointed in myself. But I had 2 other tricks to do so I kept on going. I chalked it up to a learning experience and didn’t feel so bad as a few others made mistakes as well.
When I got home from my performance, I was on a high. I posted a few pictures on my facebook and was getting a lot of compliments. I received a message from a friend from grade school and when I first opened it I thought it was going to be positive. But then as I read it my heart sank and was left speechless.
I have privately shared the message with a few close friends. Everyone who read it was furious, told me it’s not true and gave me a lot of compliments. It made me momentarily feel better. But as the days went on, it was stuck in my head and was eating away at me.
I had been eating very healthy before the performance, but a after that I started binging for comfort. My mood had been all over the place and been having difficulty looking myself in the mirror. After 2 weeks, I am a mess. I gained 6 pounds, my confidence shattered and been upset that everything I worked so hard for is slipping away.
I finally pulled myself out of depression and decided I was going to use this experience in a positive way. I also created a freestyle video as a release for myself and posted it with the message.
I was very grateful for all the wonderful comments I received. Although I posted not to get validation but more so talk about body shaming. It’s not ok to do to anyone! I felt like I could use my experience to highlight how devastating it is to someone. The media has created an unrealistic image of what women are supposed to look like, which is stressful enough. Add bullying from your peers and it’s enough to create serious mental health problems. Be encouraging of others. Support them when they are doing something to better themselves. If you are jealous, maybe examine yourself before taking it out on someone who is doing well. And if you don’t like what someone posts, simply unfriend.