I’m a pole dancer so it comes as no surprise that people often misinterpret what it is I actually do. Some envision an elegant and athletic Cirque du Soleil high-flying act, others grinding stripper finesse in 10-inch platform heels. Both are great and neither defines pole dance. That’s the great thing about pole – its creative limits are as limitless as its practitioners.

 

I wanted to write a bit about pole, the heavy conditioning of bodily stigma in our society, and other topics like what we in the pole world call ‘Sunday Bumday’ because, you know, some people just don’t get it.

 

Art and the ways we connect with and relate to our living are subjective so though some don’t (and won’t) understand my love for what I see as a beautiful art form, the broader topic I wanted to touch upon is the deeply-rooted stigma, dogma, and conditioning many carry regarding bodies (most especially women and oftentimes projected on pole dancing/ers), how that affects self, our views on woman, its relation to society and perhaps offer a few ways to shine light on the shadowy bits of what we so often like to ‘cover up’.

 

So, here I go…

(a quote by Dita Van Teese)

 

Hashtag #sundaybumday. A weekly holiday in the pole world, celebrated around the globe, where those who participate shamelessly post images of their lovely bums in all their glorious shapes and sizes while graciously exchanging compliments and fire emojis. ???

 

Some assume partaking in such activities as taking a picture of your behind and sharing it with your sisters (and brothers) online displays an act of attention-seeking behavior, “sluttiness”, an invitation to be sexualized, or is a guise to lure men and or produce for the male gaze… (we call those type muggles).

 

So why is it we celebrate asses so much?
The truth is, for many, it has nothing to do with bums, or sex. Our hips and pelvic area are the part of our bodies we, as a culture, are most disconnected from. In short, we are deeply connected to blocking energy to and from this area of our bodies. This shaming, occlusive behavior is so often encouraged in our current society which leaves us disconnected from our natural flow and is actually causing us physical (and mental) harm. #SundayBumday is a reclamation of said energy, a celebration of the human form, an opening of spirit and body, and a great confidence booster.

 

Allow me to elaborate from my perspective with nearly a decade of experience under my gluteal fold…

 

I was born in the late 70’s, a child to the 80’s and a teen in the early 90’s. Three decades of vastly varying fashion styles shifted popularity from bold colors and shoulder pads to stick-thin models – a tough time to be a developing young woman. I bloomed early and have always been mature for my age so men began looking at me (in a sexual way) at a very young age.

 

This is a statement I hear echoed over and over from women around the planet.

 

Most of us were raised in a patriarchal society with a misrepresentation of ‘god’ as strictly male. Separated from our sacred feminine and intuitions, peddled insecurities via the dominance of a hyper-consumeristic culture, continually sexualized, and reminded to submit, it is no wonder we, as females, oftentimes experience detachment and derailment from our divine and inherent wisdoms.

 

It’s not you.
It’s the structure you exist in.
You are not deficient.
The game is rigged.

 

We, as women, are continually being sexualized, from those directly around us to the corporations eager to sell us false packages of ‘what a woman looks like’ and it most often began happening to us before we even understood what sex and sexuality were. This normalized mentality leaves a mark on us all from who we are as women to how we operate in and as a society.

 

As women and men we are shamed, told how to dress and move, blamed for being assaulted based on how we look, told to look pretty and happy but not too pretty and happy, and continually told to be more, or less. Eventually, if we internalize these narratives, we shut ourselves into an unmovable position, boxed in, where any move we make is rendered wrong. This peddled lifestyle of ‘lack’ is big business and it all revolves around fear and control.

 

Yup, I said it – no matter what you do someone will be judging you. That’s great news however because it delivers the truth that no matter what you do there will be people that disapprove. “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” So you may as well embrace your peachiness (pun intended).

 

As women so much of our knowledge and our earthly connection derives from our mid-sections: our hips, our thighs, our bellies. As women, we know to trust our gut. If we lose that connection we lose our instinctual knowledge. I discovered a path back to myself and my instinctual knowledge through the most basic gift we inherit – movement.

 

The years I spent sorting, balancing, discarding, and adopting new movement patterns taught me the importance of rewilding. That is to undo societal trauma and unravel our domestication to discover a process in which to return to the more natural state that is YOU. Not what society says you should be, not what your job or family expects of you, but to build a comprehensive understanding and reconnection to our nature and our natural rhythms.

 

Who are you and how do you move when nothing is required of you?

 

Long before I embraced womanhood for what it truly is (for me, a courageous journey of self-love, betterment, growth, acceptance, and community in alignment with my feminine (and masculine) energies), I lived with insecurities about my body, let patriarchy mold me, and allowed my vision of myself to be continually scrutinized, bought, sold, molded, trampled, lied to, consumed, and disrespected.  I slowly became totally disconnected from who I really am, my power, and the uniqueness I’ve been bestowed.

 

Ownership, honor, and love for my body didn’t come until much later in my life. It was pole dancing, things like SundayBumday, and my newly found tribe of real women – the kind of women who build each other up and support each other when we cycle through our shadows – who helped muse me into a different mindset regarding my body and ultimately changed my life.

 

I learned. I expanded. I grew. I changed my mind on some things. I got angry about some things. I got over it. I got rid of some things to make more space for other things (and myself) that I found more valuable. I learned what value IS. I no longer rationalized the denial of self-care. I said no. I said yes. I embraced simplicity, the now, the moment more closely. … I became. This is the never-ending journey – the work we are put here to do – to become. We are all choreographing our movements through this freestyle we call life. How engaged we are in conscious movement is oftentimes what sets us apart. Your level of engagement is dependent on your level of consciousness. Conscious, graceful becoming can only arrive through experiencing our authenticity.

 

Each step that’s taken in an authentic, attentive manner is a reclamation and understanding of self on the journey to a peaceful, enjoyable, WHOLE relationship with ourselves and the form we carry through this human experience. Women who get that are a different breed. They are incredible and magical and so exceptionally inspiring. These types of women, joined together, all focused on the same thing are the strongest human force I’ve seen. I’m proud to be amongst them and I feel privileged to have evolved to a higher state where we celebrate our bodies not for what they look like (or how others perceive them) but for what they can do. I wish that for all women and I know we can all achieve it given the right support.

 

When we are supported, when we stop sexualizing the human form and nudity and start embracing our skin suits in all their glorious manifestations we open to realness, truth, the reality of the ages and stages of our flesh vehicles, and the beauty and importance of our uniqueness. This celebration frees us from the chains of society’s message that one should look/be/act a certain way. We can no longer be peddled the song of ‘lack’ and we regain our autonomy. It’s also when we stop sexualizing women that women will have equal rights: pay, equality in government and the workplace, and autonomy over their bodies. This movement is a liberation and you can trust a person in this position will extend a hand to those who follow.

 

So go – lift up your fellow females!

 

Find the path of love for your body. Embrace the parts you love AND the things you don’t. Be thankful for every wrinkle, dimple, and scar – better yet, own it  – you’ve earned it! Don’t allow yourself to become immobilized and disconnected by the expectations of a society or its culture – we are what creates that culture. You are a one of a kind and it’s time you start telling yourself that and owning that reality.

 

I’ve taken back a piece of me. Shone light on a shadow corner of my past patterns and illuminated a path toward betterment, self-love, acceptance, and pride in my achievements and the achievements of others. You see, this type of mindset is a contagious energy and it ripples out into the world benefiting everyone.

 

When I see people consciously reclaiming their energy and exploring their truths, I see it rewarding them ten-fold. When you accept your body, not only do you squash the negative chatter that’s always nagging at your confidence but that space gets opened up (illuminate those shadowy corners) and gets filled with affirmations of your unique and true self. You make space for more good by illuminating the bad. Once it’s (sadness, anger, pain, unease, jealousy – our negative emotional states) revealed for what it really is (a negative thought, unresolved trauma, a situation you need to change, etc.) and you view it from all angles, it’s exposed. It becomes what it is and you can rationally make decisions to change your patterns. You can choose to move differently.

 

When you’re living consciously, in peace with your mind and body, you beam instead of shade. That shift in energy transmogrifies depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and eating disorders to a solid relationship with self and other living a healthy, vibrant life. If you’re currently the type who meets others celebrating themselves or their bodies with scoffs, contempt, and shame maybe it’s time to shake off that dogma and start celebrating the unique wonders of what truly only you (and others) can possess.

 

Womanhood as a whole is a collective of individuals; our experiences and the powers we cultivate. Our thoughts, actions, energies, and interactions matter and in an enormous exponential way – they form history and pave our futures and the futures of our children’s children.

 

Cultivate greatness. Embrace love and acceptance within yourself and extend into the universe around you. Transmute your shadows into light. Tell that woman in line next to you that you love her earrings, her shirt, her smile. Tell your friend she has a nice ass and for goodness sake don’t be afraid to love and celebrate yourself – every bit of yourself (even if that’s not in the form of a sundaybumday pic) because when you transfigure your cucumbers into pickles, your world becomes a much tastier treat. ?

 

Sundaybumday, as silly as it may sound, is one of the many pieces that helped me reclaim a healthier relationship with myself, with others, and the way I navigate and perceive other humans. On my own journey of self-acceptance and perusal toward growth, I document and share my movement practice with the vision of opening doors for future women who arrive behind me. I do not attempt to control others’ perception of me as what they see is a reflection of themselves. However, I do know when we raise our individual consciousness, connect, and arrive authentically and whole, with curiosity and compassion rather than contempt and judgment, we raise our collective grace. In exploring my own grace, I’ve helped many others discover new ways to move, and be, and become. I’m proud of what I do. I inspire people to become healthier, embrace their bodies, and change perspectives with my creations. I help women embrace womanhood. What better job is there?

 

Celebrating, exploring, and refining our movements through dance, moving energy more freely through our hips and listening to what that energy says to us, unraveling our childhood and societal conditioning through education and adopting a compassion practice, and unearthing our authentic rhythms are beautiful and effective ways to develop a deeper, more impactful, and graceful way of living – and to embrace womanhood. In regards to my art, my dance, my writings, and even my occasional SundayBumday posts: they are not, in any form, displays of attention-seeking behavior, “sluttiness”, an invitation to be sexualized, or a guise to lure men and or produce for the male gaze. “It’s not about seducing men, it’s about embracing womanhood.” My movements are my own relationship with living and my choice to do so as consciously, compassionately, truthfully, and wholly in line with my authenticity as possible. In openly exploring my own grace, my movements also help other women (and men) develop deeper, more meaningful ways of moving themselves.

 

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform.” – Diane Mariechild

 

I encourage you to reclaim your power so loudly that one day, hundreds of years from now, your fellow sister will not have to dry her tears wondering where in history she lost her freedom of movement.

 

💜 Ava

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