The Unseen Battle: How Pole Dancing Might Be Damaging Your Self-Esteem
Pole dancing has been touted as the number one driver for self-esteem, a tantalizing mix of physical and mental challenge that's supposed to make you love what you see in the mirror.
It encourages you to step outside your comfort zone, to embrace your own power, and ultimately to emerge a "badass".
However, what if there is an unseen flip side to pole dancing's positive impacts? What if, in certain situations, it could actually dent your self-esteem?
Before we delve into pole dancing's specific effect, let's first understand what self-esteem is. Self-esteem refers to a person's overall sense of worth or personal value. It's a combination of various factors including self-confidence, feeling of security, identity and belonging, competence, and a sense of empowerment.
Actions that drive self-esteem in a good direction are often those that make us feel good about ourselves, like achieving a goal, receiving positive feedback, helping others, or taking care of our physical health. On the flip side, actions that drive self-esteem in a bad direction are usually ones that cause us to question our self-worth. This might include receiving criticism, failing at a task, being bullied or isolated, or comparing ourselves to others.
The Detriment of Comparison:
In a society where we're constantly exposed to others' success stories and 'highlight reels', particularly on social media, it's easy to fall into the comparison trap. The problem is, we don't always know the backstory, the struggles, the sheer effort that someone else has put into their achievements.
We simply see the end result and judge ourselves against it. This comparison can be harmful, often leading to decreased self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.
Pole Dancing: A Stage for Comparison
The pole dance studio, despite its apparent empowerment ethos, can unfortunately also become a stage for such destructive comparison. New beginner students often hesitate to join, afraid they'll be compared to more advanced pole dancers.
They may feel overwhelmed by the impressive moves and routines they see around them and feel they can never measure up. The fear of comparison can be so strong that it discourages them from starting their pole dance journey at all.
Unveiling the Class Dynamics:
In a typical pole dance class, you can find individuals of various skill levels, shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels. This diversity should be celebrated as a testament to pole dance's inclusivity. However, the issues arise when we forget why we came to class in the first place.
Consider this situation: You're new to pole dancing. Next to you, there's a veteran pole dancer effortlessly performing a move that you can't even fathom attempting. You start feeling a pang of self-doubt. Rather than focusing on your own progress, you become fixated on trying to keep up with your advanced neighbor. In doing so, you risk overextending yourself physically, possibly leading to injury. On top of this, you feel out of place and self-conscious, affecting your mental well-being.
The dangerous cycle of comparison can easily take root in this environment, becoming a major detriment to the experience of taking pole dancing classes.
A Strong Plea:
If you've ever found yourself caught in this whirlpool of comparison, it's time to take a step back and re-evaluate. Pole dancing, at its core, is a journey of personal growth and empowerment. It's about challenging yourself, not about competing with others. This is a motto Power BAR Women’s Fitness of Dallas, TX preaches heavily.
You should be your own reference point.
Guidelines for Healthy Self-Perception in Pole Dance:
Remember Your “Why”: Why did you decide to take up pole dancing? Whether it's for fun, fitness, to learn a new skill, or to challenge yourself, keep this purpose at the forefront of your mind. Use it as your guide and reminder whenever you find yourself falling into the comparison trap.
Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection: Pole dancing is a journey. Every spin, every move, every climb signifies progress. Celebrate these achievements, no matter how small. Don't strive for perfection; strive for progress.
Focus on Self-Improvement: Your biggest competitor should always be yourself. Challenge yourself to improve and grow, but don't judge your progress against others. Remember, every pole dancer started as a beginner.
Embrace Your Individuality: Each of us is unique, and so is our pole dance journey. Your body shape, size, fitness level, or age doesn't define your worth or your ability to excel in pole dancing. Embrace your individuality and learn to love your unique journey.
Seek Support, Not Validation: Your fellow pole dancers and instructors are there to support and guide you, not judge you. Seek their help and advice when needed, but don't rely on their validation for your self-esteem.
The pole dance studio, like many other arenas in life, can unknowingly breed a culture of comparison, potentially damaging to self-esteem. It's essential to remember why you started, to focus on your progress, and to celebrate your achievements along the way.
Ultimately, pole dancing should be a platform for self-expression, a testament to personal strength, and a celebration of diversity. As a pole dancer, the only person you should aim to be better than is the person you were yesterday.
Stay mindful, be compassionate to yourself, and use pole dancing not to fuel comparison, but to empower yourself. It's a dance with the self, for the self, and by the self.
Let's redefine the narrative of pole dancing – from a tool for comparison to a celebration of individual journeys and progress. In doing so, we can reclaim pole dancing as a truly empowering practice that boosts, rather than bruises, our self-esteem.