2018 Year in Review

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As I’m writing this I’m tucked away in a rain forest, cicadas chirping in the dark behind me, and fog pressing against the windows. I have left Melbourne for the foreseeable future, and I’m enjoying the quiet, the slower pace, and the sounds of nature.

This year was strange, it threw me to and fro. Just when things seemed to settle down they would then become turbulent once more. It started with a boundary being crossed, and the following months became every kind of struggle – the struggle to create, to work, to move back into a 9-5 lifestyle, to create a work from home balance. In August, just when I thought I had found a pattern, life threw another curve ball – my YouTube channel, which I had worked on for three years as a fun side-project suddenly appeared in the recommended pages, and one of my videos hit 1.2 million views. I gained 26,000 subscribers in a year. Actually, I gained most of them in the four weeks following what must have been an algorithm glitch.

Much of this year has been focused on finding balance – between the return from dancing to a day job, and then the balance between working on social media and freelance work on top of that job. More of this year has also been spent trying to work out what it is that others gain from these channels of communication. I can see January ahead, and after a much needed break overseas in Bali (Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud here I come!) I know that I will return to trying to crack what it is on Youtube that my audience values and wants from me, that in turn speaks to me and what I want to create.

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What I did in 2018:

  • I made SEVENTY-THREE youtube videos. Wait what? I just counted. Wow. Okay I feel like I should actually slow down on this front.
  • I finished my book. I’ve written about four or five total manuscripts in my life. However, they are always fiction. This was my first piece of long-form, journalism. It was an extreme change for my writing and I’m glad I chose to work on it.
  • I started to define my boundaries in relationships with friends and family. I think this is a healthy habit we should all work on, no matter who we are, or how old we are.
  • I also began to think about the future of social media and my place in it. For quite a while I was producing short, easy GRWM videos. However, while these are fun to film I know that I want to move my channel into a more journalistic style of short documentaries and meaningful projects. I’m just not sure how or when that will begin. I know I want to think carefully about my channel and whatever platforms I am granted.

2018 was a year in conversation – conversations with consumers, people, readers, viewers. Conversations with myself, with others, behind curtains and closed doors. It was a year that tied the stories we tell others and ourselves together. It has also begun to feel like a very ‘full circle’ kind of year. One that began with a lesson and ended with the impact not forgotten.

What did you achieve in 2018 – and what are you looking forward to in 2019?

On Bonding with Others , and how I struggle.

 

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I struggle to make female friendships, and I know I’m not the only one.

Feeling cut off from other women, groups of female friends, and like the tragically cliched ‘odd one out’ in the group has been a pattern throughout my young life. I understand and accept that a large part of this has to do with me – I’m a terrible when it comes to isolating myself, and guarding myself and my own human experience. As I’ve gotten older my guard has not dropped, but my fear of what I experience inside has. I’ve started to realise that everyone feels the same way at some point  – highs, lows, and the terrifying parts of our brains that we only delve into while sipping mushroom tea at house parties in our early twenties.

Still, the struggle to connect exists. I find it rare to meet a person who wants to connect, people are happy within their cliques – and by the time we hit say, 23, it can feel like we’ve already seen it all – we’ve had our ex boyfriend f**k our housemate, we’ve had our group turn on us as a whole, we’ve heard every schoolyard or university food hall rumour on the planet, had our words twisted, and in turn – we’ve also been a part of it.

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We’ve sat in silence as another person has been thrown under the bus, or had her mental anguish, mistakes and issues aired among the psychoanalytical group think and felt it remove the bonds we had previously made with that person.  No wonder we find it hard to even want to connect with others, if we haven’t yet recovered from those experiences.

When we come to realise our loneliness we often say, ‘take a class’, ‘join a club’, ‘meet people on a night out’ etc. The issue is a little bit deeper though, or at least I find it to be.

The thing is, I find it easy to talk to strangers – really easy – I am no holds barred if I am in a one on one conversation with a complete stranger, and a drink in my hand. It’s part of what made me enjoy the hustle of dancing so much. When there is some kind of social status quo to uphold though – that’s when it hits: The awkwardness, the struggle to knit something out of a sliver of fantasy regarding a regular coffee date where I (living my very ~adult coupled up life) can live vicariously through their new discovery of BDSM with strangers (‘kind of scary in retrospect’), and introduction to Herpes Simplex 1, 2 (3,4,5, and 6) and how to treat it.

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Once those first meetings are done and dusted, I start to hold back. While I might be loose and fun, thumbing through the first few vintage racks while telling my unedited life story, I eventually start to want to shrink back. The few times in my life that this hasn’t occurred have been instances where I believe the person was/is a soulmate – someone who was supposed to come into my life, someone where the friendship has always been easy, casual and interesting. Or maybe I’m just lazy, and I don’t want to do the spiritual homework involved in letting new people in and deconstructing their reaction to who I am as a person.

I think something to be self-aware of, and something that is worth deconstructing when we try to make sense of our own learned behaviour – is how we learn to exclude people for the purpose of self-preservation. Groups don’t naturally open immediately – life would be easier if they did, it would be easier if we learned not to hold so strongly to our self-perception, and allowed change to come as it wills to help us grow further and become more fully integrated people – and in turn more flexible with our Jungian Self.

The reality is, I have two friends that I’m not related to. I’m not upset about it, I like being alone. I also prefer spending time with my family to others. I’m a self-confessed workaholic. When I’m not working my hobbies (bar shopping) are really only things that can be done alone. I do find my own social inhibitions when not blessed by my chosen fairy godmother (her name is Absolut) interesting however. Why do we hold ourselves back when it comes to friendship? Why don’t we let others into our groups without question?

SS19 Trends: Fashion, Hair & Beauty

Fashion month is officially over, phew! I wanted to write a post detailing some of the trends and themes that stood out to me , showcasing both designer collections, and high-street or affordable ways to get your hands on the trends. These trends are forecast to last throughout the upcoming seasons.

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Chloe’s inspired use of textures illustrated a beautiful take on rebellious bohemian-chic (source)

Chloe brought us asymmetrical sleeve drama, capes and a continuation of the ‘Cher hair’ trend with brushed out, air-dried braided waves. Hair was slicked back or fluffy, or short and tousled with girly effortless in quintessential Chloe style. Makeup was natural, glowy and minimal with a taupe base.

Chloe also made use of Edie Segwick style doorknocker earrings. Some amazing high street dupes are available at House of Harlow (bottom LEFT), and SHASHI (top right). The rebellious Jane Birkin inspired textures can be found in stores such as Mes Demoiselles (a little more exxy), and Rare London (top LEFT).

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Gucci also argued a case for sleeve drama – with folds, feathers and even wire-strung silhouettes transforming clothing into wearable art.

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Source: Vogue UK

80’s silhouettes reigned supreme – with structured longline blazers, half and half wrap dresses and a shoulder-pad resurgence.

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source: Vogue UK

Gucci also showed us what sequin-cast dreams could be made of with 70’s tinsel fringing both on clothing and in jewellery. (options to buy this on nastygal & boohoo)

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Versace stuck with a burnt-orange, modern mod-look – button down skirts, lots of leather, snakeskin and mixed prints in an ‘opposite complimentary’ brown, red, orange, yellow and blue palette.

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source: Elle Magazine

Again Versace proved that asymmetry would reign again come ss19 & optioned their own take on the pastel rainbow.

Versace created a very mod makeup look – fluffy brows, with a rounded ‘hook’ sixties vibe, and faux freckles giving half the models a very Gigi Hadid look (as seen on both Gigi and Kaia Gerber), and the other half a smokey black wing to pull together a very Bella look (both walked in this show, alongside Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber, and Emily Ratajowski). To recreate the look yourself check out this video by itslikelymakeup on youtube, and try adding in some faux freckles.

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Edie Sedgwick /Gigi Hadid rounded brows ruled the Versace catwalk

The main theme of the Versace ss19 collection seemed to be somewhat of a mixture of the best parts of the seventies meets the best parts of the 80’s. It was a very ‘now’ collection – and very influencer-themed. A more affordable option for the Versace-mod look is t Reformation’s mod dress – a great addition to any wardrobe. The flattering A-line cut and high neck gives a 60’s vibe, perfectly teamed with a pair of Chelsea boots or flat thigh-highs.

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Top to bottom: https://rstyle.me/~aF0G1 – forever 21 striped turtleneck,
https://rstyle.me/~aF0GI – Reformation Mod Dress
https://rstyle.me/~aF0IT – Armani Exchange Crossbody

Alexander Wang brought us the trend we’ve all (read: I have) been waiting for –  bandanna’s. In Japanese culture these are known as Hachimaki – and Wang’s styling gave even amounts of both traditional aesthetic meets, ‘western biker who stole it from Axl Rose after winning a bar fight’.

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Want. Need. Yes thanks. Trench coats and dusters at maxi, mid and waist-length created masculine squared silhouettes that brought back memories of watching Akira in my late teens. This could possibly have been the best vision for a fashion show I’ve ever seen. The entire show was much less girly than ss18 – which focused on monochromatic, prom queen styles. The entire Wang show gave off the vibe that all the models were about to transform into warriors by pulling the embellishments from their clothing to reveal the silver beading as weaponry, and start taking out some O-Ren-Ishi style rage on the audience.

Cocktail Collage Hallostyle (2)

https://rstyle.me/~aF0Jl – asos duster coat
https://rstyle.me/~aF0Jz – ASOS Navy Bandana

How to Improve Acne Scarring as an Adult

 

*DISCLAIMER: I am not a trained dermatologist or esthetician . I’m just a writer with acne who has used the products listed in this blog post and found some impressive results.

In my teens I had terrible acne. It didn’t particularly affect my confidence because my self-worth was never highly placed on my appearance. Make-up was a form of creative expression, not a medium of insecurity. However, it did cause me to become timid when I entered high-school and found that with acne often comes bullying.

My acne was always hormonal. I’ve always been a total health-freak. My parents refuse to have junk food in the house, and I gave up dairy at a young age. I can count the number of soft drinks I’ve had on one hand. I eat one of those ridiculously anal-retentive diets – a kind of ‘not-vegan-vegan-‘clean’-wholefoods’ mishmash and I work out regularly.

It’s irritating to live your healthiest life and be constantly berated by people with clear skin, yet horrible diets and no idea, telling you to use Lush products or Clearasil while you spend hundreds of dollars per month on skincare, rarely drink alcohol and even eschew fruit from your diet in an effort to save your epidermis.

 

Fortunately as an adult my acne has settled down into something manageable – a few cystic spots and blackheads around my period – and breakouts that rarely appear above my chin. Unfortunately, due to the years of dryness, oiliness and large pores that will forever be the bane of my existence, I have been left with a fairly decent amount of scarring – from boxcar to ice-pick, and a few rolling scars around my mouth.

I have been diagnosed with oily but dehydrated skin – which is difficult to deal with and definitely has something to do with Melbourne’s incredibly dry and windy weather (and total lack of ozone layer). And over the last year I have been on a journey of trying to improve my scarring and hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation is the easiest to treat topically and by myself. From retinols, to Vitamin C, to basic at-home derma-rolling. These dark spots left on the skin once acne has healed is the result of the body producing extra melanin. Sometimes these spots fade over time, but if like me you’ve been battling inflammation for around ten years, you might need to use something to help lighten the pigmentation that can make skin look discoloured, and like you still have acne even when it’s no longer active.

Hyper pigmentation can be fought by using lactic or gycolic acids to help with resurfacing. Retinol or prescription Retinoids can also help with stimulating cell turnover to reduce discolouration, and tighten pores. Vitamin E cream is also an incredibly helpful wound healing ointment that can be applied all over the face to promote collagen (although not always recommended for the face). At-home derma-rolling can be thoroughly researched to help, again, promote collagen boosting and cell turnover to reduce hyper pigmentation and other scarring. If you suffer from hyper pigmentation like myself, a good sunscreen is also necessary. I’ve recently been testing out the Skinstitute 50+ Age Defence Broad Spectrum Sunscreen to prevent future discoloration.

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I am planning on uploading a video to my youtube channel soon, with past and current pictures regarding my scarring and healing journey, so make sure to subscribe over there to find out when it goes live. In the meantime, I have linked some of my current favourite brightening and retinol creams, sunscreens and derma rollers below.

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Brightening Creams and Retinols:

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo (+): This was the first brightening treatment I ever used. The website describes this as a, ‘corrective unclogging care product for acne-prone skin.’ For the first six months I used this product I noticed a noticeable difference in my hyperpigmentation, and the prevention of further breakouts. However, I did also find that it was quite drying when used all over the face, and effectiveness plateaued after about 4-6 months.

Active Ingredients:

  • Procerad
  • Mannose
  • APF
  • Niacinamide
  • Piroctone olamine
  • Zinc PCA
  • LHA and Salicylic Acid

Skinstitute Retinol Cream:  This is, so far, the only retinol cream I have ever used. It is affordable at just $30.00AUD (and http://www.adorebeauty.com.au allows afterpay) and gentle on skin. Using this leaves me with a slight tingling feeling (a product should never sting, only tingle) and tends to leave me with some initial flaking but an overall more even, plump looking complexion. Reviews on Adore Beauty tend to hit the 4* mark, and many wit sensitive skin praise this product. Note that if retinols are new to your skincare regimen you should be layering them with a moisturiser to ease you skin into the sudden Vitamin A infusion.

Active Ingredients:

Sunscreens:

La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin 60 + SPF for Oily Skin: This is an oil-free, fragrance free formula designed to absorb pore-clogging oils and not cause breakouts, making it ideal for those who often refuse to put SPF on their face for fear of breakouts. It’s also water resistant, although all sunscreens should be re-applied every 2-3 hours regardless of activity, and especially if you live in an ozone-layer-free place like Victoria. The reviews on the La Roche Posay website typically run to suggest this is a highly-favored sunscreen formula. In Australia it is about $30.00AUD and available at Priceline Pharmarcies.

Skinstitut 50+ Age Defence Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: Another Skinstitut product. I’ve been loving their stuff! This sunscreen is fairly lightweight and designed to prevent breakouts. It’s the perfect face sunscreen to add to your skincare regimen after adding a retinol and in the brighter summer months. Typically this retails for around $32.83AUD. I buy mine from Adore Beauty.

Extreme Healing Ointments:

Egyptian Magic All Purpose Cream: This is a product that has technically been around forever, and is a top 10 all time favourite of mine. The Egyptian Magic All Purpose cream has thousands of uses – from healing scars and scratches, burns, to being used as a lip balm to rehydrate dry winter lips. It’s one of my favourite things to use after a derma rolling treatment and before bed. I slather it over my freshly needled skin, drink some herbal tea and drift off to noticeably plumper, smoother skin in the morning.

At Home Needling:

Derma Rollers: Derma Rollers are a very new favourite of mine. I first began using them about four months ago, after coming across Dr Davin Lim a Gold Coast based dermatologist with a youtube channel that discusses all things skincare without the bullshit, and often without the pricetag (unless you book a treament with him, lol). He showed the correct way to sterilize and use a micro needling tool at home. So with great caution, I tried one, and then I got a little bit addicted. Micro needling is quite easy and with only three monthly sessions I have already seen lots of improvement in my skin regarding reduced redness and a neater, less severe looking appearance in terms of scarring. I use 0.05mm needles (it’s important to never exceed this when rolling at home) which I purchase from amazon and eBay. They are single use only. Check out Davin’s video on proper sterilisation and use for more info.

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How Does a Job Interview for a Strip Club Work?

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That first March weekend wasn’t cold. Still, the dancers would walk down King St in track pants with duffle bags, hair in ponytails, heads bowed if they wore full make-up, with false eyelashes fluttering against the breeze. They would slide through the club, sticking to side tables, not making eye-contact with customers, wallets held in one hand. In the downstairs dressing room they would pay house fee to the house mum on shift and put their name onto the table roster. Until we unwrapped ourselves from our cocoons of Nike tights and oversized hoodies, we would avoid pulling from the sway of our hips and thighs the body language that made us money.

‘How did you get into it?’ My friend asked one day at the beach, eight months later. We were chatting about sex work and fake tan, and her new boobs – she wasn’t a dancer though. She was a beauty and lifestyle blogger with a YouTube channel boasting half a million subscribers.

‘You know that’s so funny,’ I said. ‘People ask that all the time. Nobody realizes that you just call or email a club and ask if you can try out.’

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The interview I had for The Club was the only strip club interview I had ever had that wasn’t at an actual club. I had met the house mum for a different club, the first club I ever worked at, in the office they had backstage where they created the table rosters. Two days later I was called to organize an appointment for an interview at the offices for The Club, a few blocks away from the venue. For the interview I wore false lashes, curled my bleached hair and wore a skirt and low-heeled boots. Underneath was black underwear and a blue bralette. I weighed forty-five kilograms and wore a size 4-6 Australian, despite my take-out addiction.

The woman who interviewed me danced into the room – no joke – she twirled in singing, with a contract held high in one hand the way servers brought out plates.

‘Hi sweetie! How are you!’ She said. ‘Christina’s gone home for the day, so you’ll be interviewing with me. I work for the sister club here.’

She led me into a room with no windows and a long walnut table. The walls were paneled with what appeared to be paintings and wooden scenes cut out reflecting horses and knights in battle. It looked like the kind of room in which King Henry would have ordered Anne Boleyn’s head to be cut off, where Cromwell and the Bishop might have conspired to swipe some off the top of the royal bank accounts.

‘So,’ she looked at me. ‘What made you want to start dancing?’

At that point my bank account reflected about ten dollars, every time I went to work at my office job I would come home with a back so sore I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to write, really. I wanted to help people, I wanted my life to reflect an attitude in which I had dared to at least try, rather than taken the same route as everyone else.

‘Oh well, I’ve always been interested in it.’ I said. ‘I did some nude modelling a couple of years ago and that was fun.’

‘So, you’re comfortable being naked?’

‘Yeah,’ I said.

‘Okay,’ she said. ‘So fill out this contract. It explains all the rules for the club, make sure to fill every page and the back of every page. Our club is a no-touching club, that means the customers cannot touch you, your bum, or boobs during a dance. They’ll train you, show you how to give a lap-dance, and everything.’

‘Okay,’ I said. I wrote my name down and listed my older sister as my emergency contact.

‘Right!’ she said taking the contract back. ‘I’ll go file this, now you get undressed, so I can take a couple of pictures to send over to Christina!’

When she left the room, I stripped down to my underwear and waited.

‘Smile!’ she said, snapping a photo on an iPhone. ‘Gorgeous!’

She stood back up.

‘Okay, so if you’re successful you’ll hear from us in a week or two.’

‘Awesome,’ I said, wondering what was next. I felt like I needed to say something to lock in a place at the club. ‘So, did you used to dance?’

‘I did sweetie,’ the woman said, leading me back into the foyer. ‘A long time ago, but never at this club.’

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SHOP THE POST:

Living Online as a Stripper

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Shop pants, shop jumper

Hello, I’m a stripper. I talk about this online a lot. I often receive unbelievably lovely comments from men and women alike online, offering empathy and understanding. On the flip side, I also sometimes receive comments that describe me as a ‘whore’, or ‘goldigger’ – even though in reality, a rich old dude dying and leaving me all of his money would probably negate both my need and desire to continue dancing.

Trolls occur just as often in strip clubs as they do online, working in clubs and documenting my journey online has led me to experience both. Many people view my videos, and I meet many people in the club. They all have one thing in common – they all talk. Language is a funny thing, it often reveals more about a person than they realise. The words we choose are symbiotic of our past experiences.

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Shop jumper, shop pants

 

People take their anger and insecurities, their own confusion and jealousy out on strippers. It happens in and out of the club. Most women in the adult industry, become perceptive as to what someone means, despite what they say. We understand that the old adage denoting jealousy as a reason for cruelty might not be true – but insecurity certainly is.

Insecurity in one’s self, and adaptation to change, all play a role in the reasoning behind a persons spitefulness. This is how and why we dancers bounce back from rejection in the ten seconds it takes to receive a ‘no’, and spy another person open in the club. When men tell us we don’t respect ourselves as dancers, , it is because our line of work (and lack of fucks) represents an ego threat. It changes their view of themselves, it removes their trust in their self-identified alpha presence, so they pretend that we must have been destroyed to ‘end up’ here.

In a sense it is true – we have destroyed the part of ourselves brought up by society to be whorephobic, ashamed, virginal and ‘demure’. Femininity as viewed through the male lens has been destroyed by the dancer, she becomes self-defined, pulling on the strings of femininity to create sales, puppeting those traits into a fantasy for sale – as every ad for every product ever invented has been doing since the dawn of time.

My self-perception has not changed as a dancer, only those things (such as my body shape, or level of social confidence) that would change daily regardless of my choice to work in this industry have. I am still myself, with the same hobbies and interests, I eat the same foods, I read the same books, and I gravitate toward the films, photographs, music and art I did prior to dancing. I vote for the same political parties in elections (those who work with empathy) and I defend the same core philosophies I have for the entirety of my adult life. The fact is, regardless of whether I’m dancing or not, whether I had ever slipped $50 into a set of rubber bands on stage  – someone somewhere will still find something about me offensive and will take out that same Jungian shadow on me.

I understand my worth, though. It comes from a Eudaemonic self-created source, and has always done so. That is the place my confidence to become a dancer came from.

These comments that come my way, this societal perception at large: It’s not about me. It’s not about my job. It’s about the story and beliefs that person tells themselves regarding women, dancers, sex, money and ethics. It’s their choice to not divert and unpack those beliefs, and expose their own demons, their own Madonna/Whore complex. Their own inability to admit that the story is not true. It is the pity of all of us, when we close ourselves in from uncertainty, to accept safe stories and comfort over progress, and rebirth.

When we shroud ourselves, we reject what new opportunities we could rope into our lives, to humble ourselves from the pretense of ‘knowledge’ and accept that there are things, ideas, circumstance, larger than us that we do not know. We have not experienced.

My best example of my doing this is when I work in a club, and there are few customers, or I think I’m unable to make money. I shrink, pretending to ‘know’ this – and I reduce my presence. I don’t try to hustle, to work harder, or to approach more people. I say, ‘fine, this is what I’ve made tonight.’ I pretend that I do not have the links available to further myself, I pretend that I don’t have the confidence or skill. That’s the real story behind a lot of my ‘bad’ nights in the club.

As for online, and the tall tales we tell to make ourselves feel better than someone else: I choose to remain vulnerable, no matter how many people choose to disown me, because it’s important, as humans, to share our stories. Humans are narrative beings, and it is through story and perspective that every law has changed, movement been created, and barrier been either lifted or built. Our stories are our tools through which we can change greater perceptions. For every Instagram story a dancer posts about disrespectful customers, or working out their tax return – the perspective of the public body is – even in the smallest way – changed. Vulnerability is a quiet revolution, gaining momentum as it influences others.

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Crop top & sunglasses from eBay, jumper available here

Body Image in the Adult Industry – Take Two

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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.
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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.
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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.

Is Social Media Classist?

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Our social media feeds are littered with rich bloggers – the ones that can afford $500-$1,500 DSLR cameras, extensive iPhone bills, expensive holidays, and lots and lots of photo ops for smashed avocados or breakfasts in plush hotel room beds. I remember when I was eighteen years old the tumblr blog Rich Kids of Instagram was an anomaly – now it seems to be standard.

I grew up in a working class family, in a tiny town with a low-income average, and I have done every kind of work from washing dishes, to designing university degrees – to dancing topless on tables. I am someone who has never known wealth, and whose highest wage came in the form of fifty dollar notes being thrown at me on stage, picked up and stuffed into rubber bands around my wrists (yeah, that’s where we strippers keep our money haha).

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My beef with Instagram is not necessarily the algorithm. When I downloaded Vero a few weeks ago (lol) I realised that I actually hated the chronological algorithm. Unfortunately for me, around the time that I started to get serious about this blogging game was when the first of the non-chronological algorithm changes happened back in 2016. I was behind in the tech-support center of the Instagram/digital nomad world. Even though I’d been blogging for years, I was a 22 year old who had just finished university. My #relatable reality was more based in my housemates and I tiptoeing around the hole in our bathroom floor, and dumpster diving the ‘good’ bread from behind the supermarket.

I was able to afford an iPhone when I started my first real job, which no longer meant using my DSLR to take photos, putting them on Tumblr and then using screenshots to put them on Instagram. Yay! Then came the new changes, including my current gripe – swipe up links.

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Being a small business owner, social media is intrinsic to my success. It’s a clothing brand, people want to wear what the ‘it’ people wear, they want to support what the ‘it’ people support. Even when I worked in a strip club full of Instagram-famous dancers (which by the way I have no beef with, more power to you girls! Change the damn face of the sex industry!) this type of marketing was present. ‘People want the girl on the billboard outside the club’ – our marketing team agreed with me. It ties in to a basic human need for superiority. When we covet someone’s lifestyle – or what it appears to be – we make the unconscious connection between the objects in that persons feed and our own search for happiness. Shopping can fill a void – as well as our leaps for uncertainty and adventure, or ‘the new’.

It’s hard to grow a brand without a following these days, and it’s even harder to sell your products against the current grain of web-browsing laziness (i.e. the reality that I’ll go back to someone’s Instagram story to find a swipe-up link rather than google it).

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At the moment Instagram swipe-up links are only available to users with over 10,000 followers. Swipe up links are an incredibly easy way to sell something or link someone to something. When I’m at my laziest, I will avoid googling content I want from someone in favor of going to their Instagram account, clicking on ‘stories’ and finding the swipe up link I saw earlier. When I found myself doing this on a late Sunday morning while marathoning Gossip Girl on Netflix I stopped and thought – God damn I could get a lot of click-through to my blog, Youtube, Patreon,and store with swipe up links.

Its hard to start a business, and go through the initial highs and lows. It’s hard to be a content creator in the face of so much change. It’s even harder though, when you start to feel as though a platform that could be an amazing advertising tool for you, offers no support for you as a small business. This truly is why I don’t believe in supporting a business that doesn’t have your back – but as a business owner, I literally cannot not use Instagram.

It happens in social settings too, the follower-count based Classism. Nowadays people ask how many followers you have on Instagram, as if it shows what value you will add to their lives by befriending you. People will go out of their way to befriend models and Instagrammers purely for the online clout. It’s spongey and gross, and it’s even grosser to witness IRL. Don’t get me wrong, I fucking love social media and how many people I have connected with through it, friends I’ve made, creativity I have been exposed to. Yet picking your mates based off 1) followers, and 2) what you think they can do for you, or how superior it makes you feel to be near them is just – Ugh. Just ugh. Christ. On a goddamn bike.

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I don’t watch Black Mirror, but I’ve heard about the episode re: People with less likes or social status not being able to go to certain restaurants. It’s starting to feel like that’s where we’re headed. I mean, I’m writing this with a raging case of PMS – but I say this as someone who truly adores bloggers and youtubers, and kids making careers from their bedrooms. I love women who can use their fantastic ass, or amazing tech savvy to start a business from the ground up. I live for hearing these stories. I don’t think social media is ruining society – I think the addictive personalities and habits it creates – the reduction of using it mindfully – is highly detrimental to our empathy skills and social development as humans.

It does depend on what you consume though, how much, how often – and what you’re trying to create in turn. So many of us turned to social to escape the rat race – and now it’s starting to feel like it’s become the biggest one of all.

Of course, we know the initial social media methods were based on addiction in order to attract consistent users. Facebook, like all forms of media, wanted its’ ad revenue.

In terms of helping people grow, I personally think a better algorithm would be something that kind of, ‘graded on a curve’ – as in, sure prioritise those big posts that do well from the 1M+ follower Influencers, but then prioritise those posts that do well for someone with an average following, or only a few followers. Create something that promotes the best posts at all levels. To be fair Instagram head honchos, if you’re listening – that would be a smart business move because it would be effectively using Meg Jay’s ‘weak ties’ theory in a digital setting.

So, how does this tie into classism? Is it a new breed of bougie vs proletariat?

Society has always operated with the notion of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ – aspiration has always existed and caused followers and copycats. The aforementioned psychological phenomena of using products to fill an alignment void – where we believe the things will take us closer to the lifestyle we imagine the object of our aspiration is living – has always been around. Those who do not have, are prejudiced against. Social media has the ability to cause intense separation between the classes of those with and without followers, ‘it’ items, and other lifestyle factors.

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PLEASE STOP WEARING STRIPPER CLOTHING ON INSTAGRAM IF YOU ARE NOT A SEX WORKER – AN OPEN LETTER FROM A STRIPPER:

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Over the course of the Easter long weekend, millions of women all across the world, laced and buckled high-heeled shoes designed for Pole Dancing in order to work long  hours in strip clubs made by the brand, ‘Pleaser’. Pleaser shoes have been a staple piece of the uniform worn by strippers across the world for almost two decades now. At the same time, the clothing store Dolls Kill came under fire by these very same dancers, for releasing a direct knock-off of a Pleaser design – featuring light-up clear heels.

Those who wrote to the brands Instagram page were dancers, and other sex workers, and they were subsequently all blocked one-by-one, by the brand page. I was one of those women, I checked the block via my store’s Instagram account and found that it was true. Several women sent me direct messages saying they had been blocked as well, and then the same sentiment began appearing across the Instagram stories of the women who had complained.

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Why did we complain?

More and more we’re seeing photographs of the clothes and outfits worn by strippers photographed in street or festival style, and by bloggers who have never done any form of sex work. They love our outfits (with good reason, we look great!) but when they wear our clothes they do not say anything about the silencing and oppression we face. They report our photographs, bully us, and ignore us because of the societal paradigm they have let themselves adopt – that sex work is degrading, or below them – but dancing on tables (literally our job description) in ‘fashion pleasers’ at your mates birthday, is not.

My personal complaint was that these shoes were offensive because the brand in question did not use the opportunity to raise awareness about issues sex workers across the world are facing, such as SESTA and FOSTA – and the removal of our safe spaces and peer communities, where we connect online to reduce stigma and feel less alone.

The brands response was to then block every sex worker who wrote a complaint – blocking a large portion of their paying customer base (yes, we pay for things. We have money. We’re loyal customers. Shocker!) and delete the comments from the post. They still kept the caption on the post which read: ‘Calling all sugar daddies’ alongside a money emoji.

Some women of the industry did not see this as an issue. Stating in the comments sections of Instagram posts, ‘who would buy the shoes except dancers or pole dancers?’ But when Dolls Kill chose to block us, rather than hear our complaints and make things right (perhaps by donating some of the funds to sex work-based initiatives) they made it clear that these shoes had not been intended for us, but for the women who want to dress like us and still treat us as though we are beneath them. They proved that they did not see us as a legitimate portion of their consumer base. 

Creating a photograph-able Instagram trend of our work uniforms – when our own hashtags are shadow-banned – adds to our isolation. The use of the shoes as a trend also heightens the idea that dancers and sex workers exist only in a fantasy world for non workers to project their own ideas about onto. I found the way they blocked all of the sex workers writing complaints abhorrent – why not wait for the storm to pass and then address the issue, as opposed to blocking us? Right when U.S sex workers are finding their voices silenced via SESTA and FOSTA.

It felt like a hurtful snapshot of exactly how a company willing to profit off looks created by dancers over the decades, was also willing to ignore the women wearing the look when we complained. I thought about the millions of women over the decades who have cut up swimsuits, bedazzled shoes, perfected stage make-up, and invented pole tricks – and I felt angry.

The adult industry has spawned many designers, artists, creatives, stylists, singers, writers, professors, actors, comedians, psychologists, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. We exist in the mainstream world as well as in the clubs – we are paying customers in as many respects as the next person. Albeit none of us paid to go and see that disgusting Scarlett Johansson film where she kills a male stripper.

It’s so easy to take a few outfits or moves from the adult industry, and then do what the brand did and completely ignore us and our issues when we do complain. Some of the comments they deleted were sex workers speaking up about the larger issues we face. Instead of accepting us as a community they ostracised us. They prevented us from creating awareness, and fostering a conversation between us and the young women who might purchase these shoes, where we could explain that as a workforce we face extreme stigma and often cruelty at the hands of society. They denied us our own right to explain why created a fabricated ‘stripper-hoe’ aesthetic to garner likes on Instagram was wrong.

The funny thing is, when I was a teenager I used to lust after Pleasers so badly on eBay. I loved them. But if I had purchased and worn a pair out, and a dancer had given me a talking to – I would have taken them off and never worn them again. The youth is always on the right side of history, so rather than taking this battle to the companies run by old, white men who still think it’s the 1970’s and that it’s acceptable to profit from women’s bodies and creativity – although we still need to fight these old blokes re legal issues – let’s take it to the youth and be reminded that the more we humanise our industry by telling our stories across our varied platforms, the more individual minds we can change.

Cali

The Motivating Power of Fantasy

Years before I ever knew what the Law of Attraction was, when I was a child I used to dream of living in a castle. It would be in England, or France, the main part of my castle was my dream library tower/office. In my mind this was a circular room with a loft-style balcony office at the top. A small spiral staircase would lead up toward it and the walls would be stuffed with an enormous book collection, wheeled ladders would help me whizz through my extensively organised and indexed library so that I could look up whatever I needed, author, myth, scientific theory, for whatever writing project I was working on at the time.

 

Strange that as a child I dreamed so often of a workspace, but then I was absolutely obsessed with writing. I knew by the age of six that I wanted to write books. I was determined.

My fantasy office would often motivate me, and I was so often motivated to write my way through shitty situations. Living in a small town, going to an unkind primary school and even less kind high-school, I would write. A lot. I had written and attempted to shop two manuscripts by the age of seventeen. One got through to having the full manuscript read by a literary agent in New York. At seventeen! Like I said, I was determined. I was consumed. Writing was the thing that was always there for me. I was completely adamant that it would become my career. That passion for writing and literature sparked my love of academia and creativity, which got me into university because trust me, though I was a smart kid I did not apply myself to traditional schooling very well.

 

When I left home for university I lived in an apartment with a group of people far too different to me, we didn’t get along. So I wrote. I wrote another manuscript. I’m still editing that one today, aged twenty-three. Though that manifestation of effort didn’t result in a grand, multi-million dollar book deal with an international publisher like I fantasised in my wildest dreams, the experience of that writing however, and the paid freelance journalism that I took up to express myself in the way I found I couldn’t through my university work or campus, gave me the ticket to move states and universities. I then moved to Melbourne and attended RMIT University.

What fantasies can offer us is much like what Neil Gaiman said fiction can offer us – an escape, and in that escape tools to arm us for what we need in order to get through the real world and motivate us to hone our craft. Fantasies of the day where we can live in an apartment with a French bulldog, or castle in the wilderness, and make enough money to live off the thing that makes us happy, might seem self-indulgent or ‘wrong’, but these are the things that help us build our careers and find meaningful work and activities. 

 

Fantasies can motivate us so well. They can help us take an activity we love and show us paths that can mold that activity into something that works for us, for more than just a therapeutic benefit. Fantasies can be creative, risk-free exercises that allow us to experiment with our lives, and offer visuals of the pro’s and con’s of certain choices, and an idea of what we want to do with ourselves before we’ve quite figured it out for sure.