I’ve been dancing since I was 3, which meant that growing up I spent a lot of time looking at my body in a mirror, comparing it to other girls, and noticing what I didn’t like about myself. I have survived eating disorders twice now; once in elementary school and again in college. I always wanted to be thin. No matter how thin I was I was never thin enough. In college I realized how unhealthy this was.
I took a lot of sociology classes and gender and women’s studies classes that encouraged me to view everything about my body differently and in a more positive manner. Even while surviving, becoming a feminist, writing papers on the unfairness of fat phobia, and growing out my leg hair, I would still have days where I tried to force myself to eat 500 calories and couldn’t do it. I still had days where I was up half the night puking. I still had days where I would chew food and spit it straight into the trash can. One time I was so exhausted from not eating that I passed out on a sidewalk walking from class back to my dorm room, which was only one building over.
People have this idea that pole dancing is sexy and we learn to love our bodies because we embrace our sexuality. That is definitely true for some people and I fully support that! That is not my story. I hardly ever pole in heels. I don’t usually do “sexy” moves. I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy. (This does not mean I don’t think I’m sexy.) I have learned to love my body through pole because I am stronger than I’ve ever been. I have learned to diet in healthy ways by eating more protein to make my muscles stronger and making sure I am eating ENOUGH calories so that I have plenty of them to burn during class.
I have a healthy relationship with food now. I’m not on a strict diet. There are no foods I can’t eat. I enjoy eating. I have usually enjoyed eating, but now I enjoy eating and I don’t feel guilty about it later. I don’t regret it later. I don’t throw it up later. I don’t punish myself when I eat something I “shouldn’t have” by not eating anything for the next two days. I don’t feel guilty when I have ice cream, I feel like I am feeding myself. I remind myself that plants don’t grow without water and my body needs food to grow stronger too.
Poling means that, just like when I was a kid, I spend a lot of time looking at myself in a mirror but now I see a different person. I see strength. I see happiness. I see failure. I see my tattoos. I see my scars. I see myself. I am not skinny. I am not fat. Pole has taught me to love my body with muscles. Pole has taught me to diet safely. Pole has taught me to enjoy eating. Pole has taught me that it’s ok to love yourself and you don’t have to be skinny to do it.
PB has been poling with DivaFit since May 2016. She won first place at the Atlantic Pole Championships (APC) in Level 1 Championship in 2017 and Level 2 Championship in 2018.
You can find PB on Instagram @pbpoles.