Natalie’s story.

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Body positivity.

Love yourself and your curves and your “flaws”. We’ve all heard of or been told how to feel about our bodies.

We are told to fix our flaws, exercises for specific body parts or for specific occasions (beach ready, weddings, even just going out at the weekend to wear a bloody body con dress) then told we don’t need to change, embrace cellulite, curves and stretch marks.

No wonder we all feel so differently and confused about ourselves.

I am your average 25 year old female, I can’t cook to save myself so takeaways and junk food make up a large part of my diet. I can’t resist a special offer on biscuits and I loveeee pizza!

Recently I have been struggling with my mental health meaning my diet has been worse and generally not feeling great, like most people through the winter months I guess. I have lost track of the amount of times I’ve said diet starts tomorrow and I have too many “before” pictures with no positive changes.

However one thing that has pulled me through is my hobby, pole dancing.

It’s been nearly three years since my first class and when I look back I really have become much stronger and genuinely more body confident. Even the thought of dancing in tiny shorts and a sports bra made my face turn red with embarrassment and get that horrible feeling in the bottom of my stomach. Now I go to the gym (sometimes…) and feel like I have too many layers on to be working out, even with my little winter belly!

You are probably wondering how I managed to overcome this…

The pole community.

Honestly, this group of men and women are the most hardworking, supportive, genuine, encouraging and amazing people around. It really is a pole family. While I have been struggling my pole family have been there for me, more than most of my actual family. Going to the studio (Pole Place Glasgow, @poleplaceglasgow on Instagram) is the highlight of my week and I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me, mentally and physically.

Like most girls my age, I have listened to generations above me complain about weight, health issues and watched them try all the latest diet trends. I read every magazine every week searching for the secret to the dream body (BTW my dream body has also totally changed since starting pole, search for Sarah Scott or Tiff Finney on insta. Pure goals, you are welcome).

I wish I had the opportunity or the courage to start pole dancing many years ago. If women could be in this kind of supportive and encouraging environment from a much younger age, focusing on what your body is capable of instead of how it looks or what number is on your clothing labels I think we would all be in a much better place when thinking about our bodies.

I’m not going to lie, I do compare myself to the other amazing professional pole dancers and even everyone in my studio and get down that I don’t have abs like slabs or can’t do a certain move with the grace and elegance they do. I think it’s in our nature now to compare with other women instead of being inspired and supportive automatically, which is quite sad. However I am actively trying to change how my brain processes these thoughts and my amazing pole girls are full of compliments and praise when I need a wee boost!

I am so thankful to have met all these ladies who are beautiful inside and out. Women supporting women, it’s the way forward!

If you are considering pole dancing or any other kind of sport with this kind of environment, do it.

You won’t regret it.

Even if it’s not for you, being brave enough to try is an achievement in itself.

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