A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of myself to imgur – and accidentally found myself in the middle of an unintentional analysis on social interactions on the internet
It started on the pole.
I nailed a new move at my pole dancing class. It’s one that I’ve always considered to be beautiful and strong, and I was super proud of it.
Being proud of it, I posted it to my imgur and to a pole dancing sub-reddit I poke my head into from time to time. I expected a few upvotes, maybe some comments. I’ve posted a pole picture before, you see. And it barely made waves.
Let me take this moment to say that I understand and acknowledge the implications of putting a photo of myself – particularly on the pole – on the internet. Comments such as “Well if you didn’t want xyz, then you shouldn’t have abc” will not be entertained.
This time, my picture was viewed 66 916 times, earned 1435 upvotes (and 247 downvotes), 465 favourites (#notcreepy) and 115 comments, which you can read through here.
It’s no Ridiculously Photogenic Guy, but, it had enough traction to invite all sorts of odd humans.
If I were to do a proper analysis (I won’t), there were three distinct audience types – the Appreciator, the Shamer and the Creep – and three key themes – Stripper Jokes, Shaming, and Praise.
The very first comment (and the most popular comment) was a Stripper Joke. I joked back, because I fully embrace the fact that pole fitness has its roots in stripping (and I already have a prepared stock of responses because I get so very many stripper jokes at work and among friends). Heck, I did a burlesque class last year and performed in a very skimpy costume at our Christmas party. So yes, you can actually call me a stripper.
But of course, I’m human, so it wasn’t the praise that rattled in my head after posting..
I use this shamelessly poached phrase a lot in my daily life: “The internet is dark and full of terrors.” And so I 100% expected negative comments (but perhaps underestimated my low self-esteem).
So on to Shaming, which I’m almost certain is an Internet Sport. I’m guilty of Shaming other people, I will admit it. In my head, usually. Sometimes aloud, to very close friends. And then I feel like a horrid, horrid person. But I have never, in all my time on this earth, written a derogatory comment on a stranger’s picture. Never.
Another of the earliest Shaming comments was somebody “correcting” my title from Butterfly to *Chubberfly. Why yes, a comment about my weight. I have a mental problem with my weight. It is my body and I’m not happy with it, and that’s my right. But to have a stranger on the internet look at my “squidgy” (my fat rolls on my stomach) and oh-so-wittily call me a chubberfly… Well, that fucking sucked. Hard. Other great comments about my weight included “Strong pole”, “Thicker than a bowl of oatmeal” and the well-thought-out “So fat”. Nothing like people openly voicing your deepest insecurities, right?
I struggled with this: “What right do these people have to comment on my body? Who the fuck do they think they are? What assholes!” Those comments make me angry. But then I think of the countless times I’ve looked at women and thought “Jesus, she should *not* be wearing that.” And then I fell off my high horse.
But on to the Slut-Shaming, which is something I’ve had a lot to think about. We’ve already discussed the “Pole Dancing and its Stripper Origins” point – and so it should come as no surprise that because so very many people on this earth call women who partake in sex work (in this case, Strippers) slutty, the next logical step is that Because Pole Dancing Came From Stripping Pole Dancers Are Sluts.
(Side note: I follow a great stripper / pole dancer – Lux Atl – on Facebook & Instagram and she has a bunch of great thoughts on the Pole Dancing = Stripping topic, which may be worth a whole new post..)
“All this time I thought it was called the upside-down Ho”. And my absolute personal favourite “I bet your dad is proud too.” (You know what, I think he would be. I think he’d be proud that I’ve found something I love, and I 100% KNOW that he would have supported me and probably challenged me to a pole off. He saw the light side in everything.)
It’s something a few of the women in the studio have spoken about. A lot of them don’t tell co-workers or classmates that they go to pole dance classes because of the “stripper” association. The “slut” association.
Me? I couldn’t be more proud. I wear my bruises with pride, tell my co-workers about this new trick I nailed, and post pictures on my personal accounts. My CEO (who is one of my favourite people on this planet) shows my pictures to her friends. I even shared the imgur link with some of my co-workers, one of whom commented on the pic with “Hey, that’s my boss!”
I’ve often wondered about what potential employers / clients / employees think when they stalk my social profiles and see my pole pics. I’m not ashamed of my pole journey, clearly. Heck, I’d love to compete one day (if I can actually string together a combo).
But does the way oh-so-many people view pole dancing impact the way people may view me in a professional capacity? It shouldn’t, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does. I just wouldn’t want to know for sure. Because those comments stick.
Only 20% of the comments were outright mean ones. I’ve devoted a whole post to 20%.
But the rest…?
You have a beautiful body!
And then of course, Tyron…
“The boobs look good.”