As I’ve said before, my journey in pole started when I’d lost weight (about 70 lbs). I came to pole probably a size 12 and am now about an 11. My clothes range from size 8-14. My work trousers are a 10 but my growing shoulders mean I need a 12 on top sometimes. Considering I was at one point pushing a size 20 and the current UK average is a size 16, I would appear to be doing OK.
I was chatting with someone from the pole world recently who pointed out that I’m a big girl. It wasn’t said with any malice and was in fact a compliment that I showed that pole is accessible for all different shapes and sizes. Still, I have to say it stung a tad. It’s a comment that’s rattled about in my head since I heard it.
The reality is that in the pole world, I am a fairly big girl. Most of the time I’m training with gorgeous women coming in at size 6-8 so by comparison my frame is definitely larger. I’m usually the biggest girl in class. I also teach yoga but am not all tall and willowy. I have curves and plenty of them.
Pole is reshaping me so that my shoulders are growing which makes my hourglass shape even more noticeable and I have to take shoulder pads out of anything I buy or I look like an American Footballer. Overall, my body is more muscular than it’s ever been and yet, I’m still curvy.
I can’t yet do the amazing power moves I see some of my friends doing but that is largely down to the fact that they have more experience under their belts than I do. My big muscly lower half meant that inverting was a really difficult process for me; my upper body had some real catching up to do. Now I do it without much thought. Shoulder mounts were similarly difficult but again the rest of my body has caught up.
I can do aerial inverts when the wind is right etc. On the flip side, handstands came naturally to me as luckily I’d never lost the ability to do them and doing yoga meant my flexibility is good. Good spinal and shoulder mobility mean that poses like stag are fairly pleasant for me to do and for once the fact that my legs are so strong plays to my advantage.
I’ve looked at my most recent competition photos and found myself looking at whether my belly is sticking out or whether I look fat in pictures. The total opposite of what I want to be doing. I love my current routine and can’t wait to do it again, it’s the first routine I’ve ever wanted to repeat, I’ve watched video of my performance and was so happy with how my body moved and what I’d achieved. Still in pictures I’m looking for the flaws.
So what does being a big girl in a pole world mean?
It means I have the confidence to get up and dance in a tutu as an un-dead bride and be judged on my performance. I did this in front of a crowd in a nightclub where I interacted with the crowd and lapped up their approval in the form of cheers and screams. It means I push my body to new limits on a regular basis. I teach other people of varied ability levels how to use their body through yoga.
In the outside world I’m considered pretty tiny so how odd that I find myself somewhere that I’m still at the larger end of the spectrum. Somehow this means something different to me than it used to. It’s never in my head when I’m performing. I feel confident, empowered, sexy and ALIVE. For what I think is the first time in my life I can say that my body may not be perfect but that I am happy and confident in it. It can do amazing things and allows me to express myself and have people enjoy what I do. Who would have thought that a big piece of metal that causes bruises and burns and aches and pains could also bring that kind of freedom?