Working on Negative Body Image
There is a plaque of negative feelings around body image in the pole and aerial world. In pole and aerial the comparisons to other's bodies are often on the same level as dancers and gymnasts and the standards are unforgiving and lofty. There is performance in our sport, there are small amounts of clothing covering the body and there are unspoken expectations of how one should look. Let's face it, there is a stigma that if you do not look a certain way you must not be that good at pole.
There is still a connection to the sex industry which often produces unrealistic images of women; the selling of fake boobs, apple bottom booty, washboard abs and thinness and genetically some of us might have been gifted, but the majority of us have to work hard and may never achieve certain "desirable" features without surgery. We overlap with the standards of dance and gymnastic community, with goals of being pure muscle, pure grace and a size 0 sure helps to do it. As a sport, do we want gymnastic standards or sex industry standards dictating how we look and feel?
Now some bodies are thin naturally, some bodies have big boobs, some bodies can achieve washboard abs by doing nothing. Attending class, we are literally standing around in our underwear looking at each other. To not compare your belly to someone's washboard abs is nearly impossible. So what can you do about it?
On the healthier side the sport does carry a lot of empowerment and the ideas of building muscle, strength and control of the body. Embracing felinity, masculinity, art and movement are also positive aspects of performing. Feeling confident of about body parts that are often shamed and working through building confidence are big pluses on the progressive list. Every poler has experienced the moment of getting a difficult move or perfect lines in a chore move and the self fulfillment the comes with that. In that moment you love your body for what it is capable of, but does that feeling last?
Mental Exercises to Help Reduce Negative Body Image
The first step in solving any negative issue is to gain awareness. What parts of your body do you feel negative about?
- Do you feel that you are not thin enough?
- Do you feel that your stomach is not flat and that you have belly fat?
- Do you think your body is disgusting?
- Do you fear your cellulite or that your stomach and legs wobble?
- Do you feel that your breasts are too small? Or too big?
- Do you wish you could change a feature? Bigger booty, smaller booty, thinner thighs, smaller waist, less curves, more curves?
Discovering of the Inner Critique (The mean voice in our heads)
Take a moment and think about if there is a dialogue in your head about certain body features?
Many of us have a inner critic, that little voice in your head that says terrible things like " you look so fat today," "your boobs are small, no person will want you," and a variety of other horrible things. Most of us have had this inner critic living with us for some time and quieting this voice is hard to do.
From a neuroscience perspective, we are fighting old neural pathways in the brain and we are fighting things we actually believe about ourselves, though they may not appear true to other people. We need to override these old pathways