A lot of transformation had ensued within my first couple of years as a Pole Dancer. For the first few months, I was dancing barefoot. Then, about 6 months into my journey, I bought my first pair of heels, and began to explore the Sensual side of Pole. Exploring my body and sexual energy in this new way felt powerful and liberating.
When I began to share my movement practice with the world via social media, I experienced a lot of mixed messages from subscribers and old friends who had been following me. Pole wasn’t as popular and known for its “upper-body strength” as it is now—it was still very stigmatized back then. I got a lot of push-back. A few people cracked jokes and didn’t take me seriously.
I had long since broken up with the person who gave me the idea to pole dance, and was in a new relationship. My new boyfriend was cool with the athletic side of Pole, but he felt threatened once I strapped on the heels.
“You dance better without those shoes,” he said one day. As a new dancer who was just learning how to move in my heels, that comment really hurt my feelings. But he contradicted himself by getting turned on when I wore them and sat on his lap. He was just possessive, emotionally abusive, and always insecure about my attractiveness to other men. I was relieved to get him out of my life, even though my family and the police had to get involved.
Speaking of which, my family was really uncomfortable with my heels as well. At first, I introduced my Pole Dancing to Mom by showing her my barefoot-dancing videos. After she digested those, I shared a few videos of me dancing with my stripper heels—but in a more balletic and acrobatic way. I never showed her my sensual movement, because I didn’t feel safe—I knew she would view it through a derogatory lens. Regardless, my heels raised a few hairs.
For years, Mom would share her reservations with me in a hushed tone: “I’m just worried because I think those shoes are for Men’s pleasure.”
The idea of my Stripper Heels being for male pleasure just erases all the pleasure that **I** get from wearing them—from how they look, to how they make me feel when I’m dancing. It’s also much harder to dance in heels than it is barefoot, and it really takes a lot of training to develop good technique.
Mom was always concerned about how men viewed me and my body, and what message I was sending them by being a Sensual Pole Dancer. I’ve always found these comments to be very disrespectful and ignorant, because it suggests that my sexuality solely exists for men. Within those statements, there is also an assumption that I am not aware of myself and what energy I’m giving out. Neither are true.
Experiencing all of this pushback from the outside world while simultaneously exploring my sexuality, was incredibly vulnerable and challenging. I was naked, both physically and figuratively. But, those experiences made me more adamant about preserving my freedom to do as I pleased. I began to assert myself even more, and explore other erotic arts, such as modeling for nude photography and art classes.
I wouldn’t say that Pole Dance by itself was healing and empowering—but it definitely helped me develop a very intimate relationship with my body and my femininity, which led me to a greater awareness of myself. I had begun to notice how sexually and emotionally unfulfilled I felt in my relationships, and how much trauma I was subconsciously acting out from sexual abuse. Deep down, I knew that I deserved healthy love, amazing sex, and to feel whole and empowered within my body. More than anything, I wanted to find a pathway to healing.
This was an excerpt from my memoir, “N3VLYNNN: My Path to Healing & Creative Liberation.”
Chapter Title: Through The Looking Glass.
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