The other week I wrote a blog post about body confidence and how working in the adult industry after gaining weight made me feel. That post was true, but it was not the only perspective I have on the situation.
I want to start this post by saying: I find many blog posts about body image and body confidence really shallow and disingenuous. I also want to say: Your body doesn’t need to be perfect to make you feel confident.
We hear so often ‘all bodies are beautiful’ but in the face of western capitalism these platitudes mean little. The thing is, it’s a narrow lens through which bodies are perceived, and that lens will always manage to trick up a new insecurity where we look for evidence of our unworthiness.
If I were to book a modelling gig back in my size four frame, I wouldn’t show up perfectly confident. I would show up and worry that the photographer was judging me for my acne scars or my overlong roots, or maybe my ingrown hair spotting. Why? Because shoots are stressful and intimidating, and in any intimidating circumstance we begin to look for reasons we are not worthy – which often manifests in some really unhealthy thoughts and follow through actions.
Working in the adult industry made me judge myself, and often harshly. If I wasn’t making money, it could often feel that it was due to how I looked, the weight I had gained, the fact that I wasn’t wearing false lashes that night. However, this industry has also made me appreciate my body in ways I never realised: Seeing women fall twenty feet from the top of a pole, and catch themselves right before hitting the stage floor, made me appreciate what a body can truly do, and how fitness and beauty isn’t always reflected in what we look like, static in an editorial style shoot.
Walking through the clubs to pay house fee, dressed in track pants and a hoodie, I would always notice the way the apparently undesirable ‘hip dips’ curved into lines that highlighted hip and butt muscles, the way stretch marks glowed under black lights, the way a move could form a stage-pose that perfectly highlighted what most see as ‘perfect femininity’ – and these poses could be created by any woman in the club, the curviest, the thinnest, the fittest.
The women who made the most money weren’t the thinnest, or the prettiest – but those with the most stage presence, the ones whose thigh muscles could withstand more private dances on a busy night, the ones who could catch the crowds attention by doing a trick or show no one else in the club could master.
It taught me something:
Bodies don’t have to be ‘media’ perfect to make you feel confident. There’s more than one perspective to every viewpoint. There are few viewpoints in a photograph, or even film footage.
There are many viewing platforms in a strip club, lights change, angles change, poses change. We are three dimensional beings, and our bodies can rarely be captured in just a photograph. Regardless of how beautiful the photograph might show us to be.
It’s about Mindset:
I grew up in a house where my mum would bring home sketches from her life drawing classes, nudes, portraits, and sit them on the floor and she would look for the ‘flaws’ in her drawings. The flaws, I always told her, that she was trying to erase were the strokes and curves and pressures in the sketches that made them look like hers. The flaws represent her style, her thought process, her flow, and she is an incredible artist, even if she doesn’t always see it. Working in strip clubs always reminds me of the poses held in editorial magazines, life drawing classes, and studies of movement, muscle, curve, light and shadow. ‘Beauty’ isn’t supposed to be a mindset of lack, but of abundance – of finding it, without first reducing it according to a narrow lens, and trying to fit into that. Beauty isn’t restricted or restrictive. It’s not lacking, it’s not ‘when’, ‘if’ or ‘as soon as’. Beauty just moves the way it moves, and if you can’t seem to find something beautiful in yourself or others, it’s time for a change in perspective.
My body looks so different now to how it did a year ago when I first started dancing, but as long as my mindset holds firm I still make the same targets in the club as I did back then. My body has changed because my life has changed – a year ago I worked a desk job and did pilates every morning, my abs were flat and my legs were thin – now my thighs and butt are muscle-filled to push through excruciating hours in heels, on stages, full shifts worth of exercise. To only verify my body as ‘worthy’ by looking to exterior sources, or even comparing myself to the person I was a year ago is unfair – I no longer lead that life – I am no longer that person. Rebirth is a constant flux. Just like muscles, when we are worked through, and faced with new challenges, we break down and repair. My mindset broke when I compared my body to how it used to look – to the body I have now – and repaired, forging new neurons to connect – when I began to look at beauty in a different light.