Pole Studio Diaries :: On Being Told That I Stink & Embracing My Natural Scent
Today, I was told something that broke my heart and brought me to tears.
I was told–in not so many words–that I stink. That the scent that my body emits when I sweat is unpleasant, odorifous, and overpowering.
Why this statement hurt me so deeply is entirely contextual. So, I’d like to share my story.

I recently began my Pole Dance practice at the local Pole Studio. Last month, I had received an newsletter email informing studio members about The Studio’s Student Showcase that was happening in a few weeks. I was absolutely stoked. And true to form, I was the first person to sign up.

I set aside the several Dance injuries I had been nursing, and decided to invest my next chunk of savings towards two Unlimited Class and Open Studio Practice packages. (I didn’t really need to take class–I just wanted to be counted as a “student” so I could purr-form). Within minutes, I was researching and designing Pole Dance outfits, ordering fabrics, and listening to potential songs to Dance my heart out.

I had moved to Los Angeles to train and perform as a Pole Dancer, and this felt like the first opportunity that truly felt accessible at just the right time. This Studio in particular was the closest studio to me–and one of the main reasons why I moved so deep into The San Fernando Valley.

Ever since I witnessed all of the beautiful Aerialists, Pole Dancers, and supportive audience members at The Studio’s Spring Showcase, I knew I wanted to perform in the next one. I knew I wanted to be a part of that community.

After all of the challenges and miracles I had experienced this year, the Performance would surely be a beautiful way to end 2017.

I began my Studio Practice exactly one month ago, on November 15th. It was such a beautiful day when I walked in, knowing that I would have endless hours worth of ample space to practice my craft. I immediately began free-styling, experimenting, and strength-training for what would be the next 4 weeks.

Studio Space is not something I’ve ever taken for granted. It had always been a great privilege for me to have access to lots of space to train. Pole Dancing is something that requires a very particular set-up, especially if you want to train professionally.

Due to distance, funding, or in some cases–just not feeling the vibe–I’ve often had to forgo traditional Dance Studio spaces, and make the most of what I had, Pole Dancing in my living room or bedroom. On the jungle gym or training contemporary movement/acrobatics in park fields.

With a combination of raw talent, creativity, determination and endless resourcefulness– I’ve trained myself to reach a Professional level. However, I moved to L.A. knowing that The Studio would provide me with the proper space to take my skills and talent to the next level. I was so grateful and happy to finally be able to practice in a larger space.

I was winding down and wrapping up after my second day of practice–the last one to leave the studio after a 3-hour training session. That is when the Studio Owner approached me.

“I feel really uncomfortable saying this, but your body odour is really strong, and it’s overpowering the studio.”

I gasped. “Ohh!!”, I exclaimed, a bit surprised.

The Studio Owner tried to explain further, about how she understands that some people prefer not to use chemicals in their deodorant. However, this is a shared space, and…”

“It’s OK,” I said, assuredly. “You don’t have to explain. I totally understand. You’re not the first person to tell me this. I’ll be mindful of this, and you let me know if it gets better, OK?”

I explained that I shower, and use natural deodorant. But I understand that some natural deodorants are just not aligned with my body chemistry.

We ended on a positive note, and I was completely fine. I was sure that I could remedy the situation. Even though it was mildly embarrassing (way to make a first impression!) I was glad it happened. After all, I didn’t want to be traveling the world as a famous Performer and have a reputation:

That N3VLYNNN! She’s such a beautiful Dancer, but she stinks!

On a more personal level though, I admit that it was a little bit confusing. When I returned home, I sniffed my armpits profusely, and didn’t smell any bad odour. Sure, after a 3-hour sweaty practice, I didn’t exactly smell like roses–but I also didn’t smell foul the way that one would smell after skipping a few showers.

I kinda just smelled like–me.

My mind flashed back to the handful of people who had approached me about my body odor over the past several years. And actually–2 years prior, a Pole Studio Owner in New York had informed me that another student had complained about my “stench”. I left that studio shortly after and began training at home.

Most of those people (3 out of 5 to be exact)–had made it clear that they just don’t vibe with me as a person, and I’ve had to make my way out of those relationships and communities. However, I definitely didn’t want to take any of this personally, or latch onto old stories.

Somewhere deep down, I wondered if it was just another case of you know–society trying to condition us into thinking that our bodies have to be hairless, otherwise odourless–and smelling like daisies at all times to be socially acceptable?

I know that some people are more used to “natural scent” than others. My most recent lovers have definitely adored my scent, and even found it intoxicating. I wondered if it were just a primal thing.

The next day, I told my friend what happened. When I asked for her honest opinion, she too, was confused.

“I don’t think I’ve ever smelled an odour from you,” she said.

My friend graciously drove me to Erewhon Natural Food Market, where I excitedly purchased $40 worth of well-researched natural deodorant, a Strong formula “Primal Pit Paste” (which has been tested and approved by cross-fit athletes), as well as their “Po-Po Powder”, and a glorious smelling luxury soap.

As I stood in line for check-out, I was split in-half. On the one hand, I was satisfied with my purchase, and excited to try a new product. Regardless if the people around me had been brainwashed by Secret Deodorant, I felt I was making the right decision by trying to meet them half-way. After all, Pole Dancing is really important to me, and I really wanted to train at that studio. If I needed to make some adjustments to be exceptionally odour-free, I would at least try.

The other part of me felt strange and insecure about the whole thing. It felt as though I were desperately trying to fix something that I–in my heart–never truly saw as being broken…Just because other people were not used to it or felt it was unacceptable.

If I didn’t feel like I smelled bad, and I know I have proper hygiene–how would I feel about myself for going the “extra mile” based on someone else’s standards of how my body should smell?

Self-Love is so important to me and it always comes first. These questions lingered throughout my journey…

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