I’ve decided to write this post when I’ve realized that for the past year, I could step on the scale and not worry about the number for the first time in my life. Now I think it’s just a number, not something that defines you. But I needed some time to realize that, so I think it’s best to start this story at the beginning.
I was one of those extremely skinny girls when I was a teenager. Partly because of my bone structure, partly because I wasn’t eating enough for all the activities I was involved in that time. There practically wasn’t a day without a sports activity and I should have adjusted my calorie intake – but I didn’t. I actually loved the fact how skinny I was. Growing up in the age of super skinny models, reading magazines filled with diet advice and photos of ”ideal bodies”, my body seemed kind of normal to me, I liked that I looked gentle and fragile, and I had no idea why people close to me were worried. My body image was completely disortorted and when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see what I see in the old photos now.
I didn’t realize I should take better care of myself until I stepped on the scale one day and saw a number even I considered low. I had 163 cm and 39 kg. It was like a cold shower, the first realization that I had a problem. For the first time, I knew I had to change something, and with a help of a supportive family, everything was easier … and I would say that I started getting better quite fast, but changes like that don’t happen overnight. I had to change my perspective of food, meals and also my body.
So when my body started getting in its ”default” shape and my body got a bit curvier, I didn’t like it at first. It was so unusual to have a bit of butt and boobs. Even though I started liking a healthier version of me later on, I still had some issues. Mostly revolving around my weight, because I still had a horrible relationship with the scale. And after 3 or 4 years later, when the number showed 50 kg, I felt awful, even though I knew that everything was better than that low number before and I chose healthy over size zero. But still, I felt awful every time I had to step on the scale and the number always showed something above 50. It was just a number, but for me, it was one of the things that defined me.
I’ve visited my first pole dance class three year ago. It’s safe to say that I was addicted after the first class, but I never thought how it’ll affect my whole life, my self image, my view of the body. I’ve always been a dancer, but I’ve found myself in pole dancing. And when my thin arms and narrow shoulders started getting more muscular form, it was the same as with my curves – I didn’t like it at first. But I loved pole dancing too much to give up this sport just because I was building a lot of muscle and consequently, not being so gentle and fragile anymore. And so my ideal of the fragile, skinny body slowly faded. It wasn’t something that happened overnight, it was something that happened so slowly I didn’t even notice. I was too focused on learning all the new elements, building strength, stamina and flexibility. Even though I’ve never gained muscles and strength fast, I’ve never gave up and I’m still working on a lot of things, I’ve also started weight training and for a girl, who always wanted to look fragile, I love how strong I’ve become and that I’m getting even stronger. Pole dancing has empowered me in ways I didn’t imagine. I’ve seen my body in shorts and sports bra at least once a week for three years now. For the first time, I have a clear view of my figure, the ways my body moves, even how it looks on different days of the month. I’ve learned to love my figure, posed for a photo or sitting comfortably with my tummy rolls. I don’t even hide the bruises I sometimes get after an intense workout. I’ve gained more than 15 kg compared to my lowest, I’ve gained almost half of my lowest weight, but I’ve never felt so good in my skin as I do now.
What’s really interesting for me is how each body changes in it’s own unique way. How it develops through exercise and how it changes with age. My whole look on the female body turned around in the last few years. I used to focus too much on one ”ideal” body, an unreachable goal. But I’ve realized that there is no ideal body – the only ”ideal” thing is our diversity – the fact that we come in all shapes and sizes, each just as beautiful as another. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, we should focus on being healthy and doing the things we love to do. Instead of turning against each other in this ”competition”, we should support each other. There’s a beautiful world waiting for us and I don’t want to waste my time gossiping about some girl’s cellulite/tight gap/boob job – but I’ll admire women who shine from the inside, who love what they do, who go after their passions.
This post wasn’t written with purpose to get you to try out pole dance :). But if it’s a thing that would interest you, go for it. If you are interested in something else – go for it. Whether it’s a sport, photography, books. What makes us us are our passions, not the number on a scale, not what others think of us and not our comparison to others.
Pole dance studio photos by: Boštjan Gunčar (photos are form two photoshoots in March and June)