Dance is a form of self-expression that emphasizes self-awareness and viewing yourself as art. However, being in touch with your body and body movement is often sexualized. Some forms of dance, such as pole dancing, are sexualized more than others.
Dancers tell stories with their bodies, and those stories are usually seen as beautiful. However, when you take the same graceful, controlled movements and put them on a pole, society views it as wrong and sexualizes it.
Pole dancing is often stigmatized as “dirty” or something “strippers do.” We need to destigmatize pole dancing, but in order to do that, we must first destigmatize stripping and stop viewing it as something that places a person below others in society. Once the shame placed on strippers is removed, we can start to see pole dancing for what it really is: art.
Pole dancing should first and foremost be viewed as a form of dance, self-expression and empowerment. Whether it’s done for stripping or fitness should be considered secondary and up to the dancer.
According to a March 2018 Tonic article, a hashtag trending on Instagram in 2015 caused a divide between strippers and people who used pole dancing for fitness. Fitness-focused dancers would post pictures and videos of themselves dancing with the tag #notastripper. In response, strippers began posting their photos and videos with #yesastripper. Dancing for fitness or stripping are equally valid. There does not need to be a separation between the two, but rather a removal of the labels altogether.
Dancers should be allowed to express themselves and make art without fear of judgment. It is time for pole dancing to be treated the same as other genres of dance. Pole dancing takes technique, rehearsal, strength and talent. It is a skill that individuals work to perfect and build upon through endless hours of practice. It is something to be proud of. It is beautiful, not taboo.
I have taken pole dance classes for more than a year, and I dance for myself. Pole dancing empowers me and allows me to freely express my sexuality. It makes me feel good, strong and allows me to make art while exploring my body. Pole dancing is a skill I am proud to have. The strength and confidence I have gained from dancing is something I am incredibly thankful for. In the end, all that matters is how an individual chooses to express themselves, and whatever choice they make deserves equal respect.