A discussion about stereotypes, judgement and ignoring the haters.

I have always prided myself on the fact that I love to break down stereotypes. I challenge people’s perceptions. And I love it. There’s something deeply satisfying about seeing a shocked look on someone’s face when they realize their first impression was completely wrong. Ignoring the haters doesn’t always work, but proving them wrong sure is fun.

There will always be people who judge you and haters that want to throw shade in your direction. But isn’t your opinion the only one that matters? Can we simply ignore the haters?

My first car was a pickup truck and my last dog was a Pitbull mix. I live in dresses and stilettos, but have scars from quadding and dirt biking. I’m the girly girl who is one of the boys.

I can spend the afternoon lying in the grass target shooting with a sniper rifle, only to go home, throw on a dress and heels and sip bubbly in a hotel lobby bar. That actually happened and it remains one of my all-time favourite weekends. Adventure followed by luxury, now that’s what I call the perfect balance!

Breaking down stereotypes

It is this love of breaking down stereotypes that made me aware of the fact that I have been a hypocrite. I am a Marketing professional by day and a Fitness Instructor by night. Only I’m not just any kind of Fitness Instructor, along with group fitness classes, I teach pole dancing.

Pole fitness. Vertical gymnastics. Whatever you want to call it. I’m not, nor have I ever been, a stripper; however, I have always been an advocate for pole fitness as exercise. Ignoring the haters who called me a stripper wasn’t easy, but ignorance isn’t always bliss. I’d rather educate someone who is being small-minded.

Pole fitness takes an immense amount of strength. I used to fill my Facebook timeline and Instagram feed with pictures of pole dancing, but one day I stopped. Why? Because I felt it wasn’t professional. I knew that I would be judged by the pictures I was posting. To me, it’s fitness, but to most, it’s sexy, provocative and ‘stripper-like.’ Not exactly the profile of a business professional.

You are your brand

I work in Marketing and, as such, I am my own brand. Can I sit in board meetings and discuss the effects of tariffs and price increases, then swing around a pole at night? Sure, but will I be taken seriously next time I comment on what CRM system we should implement? Maybe, but probably not.

As I begin a new chapter in my life building my own personal brand as a freelance writer, can I post these fitness images on my Instagram, or am I taking an unnecessary risk? Is my opinion the only one that matters, or will others’ opinions and judgements hurt my reputation?

“When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

Earl Nightingale

When all is said and done, we need to be proud of ourselves and our accomplishments. It’s easy to say that we should ignore what other people think or say, but we all know it isn’t that easy. I am proud of my ability as a pole dancer.

I happen to think it’s pretty amazing that I can flip around a pole, hang upside down, and hold my body parallel to the ground. It takes incredible strength and a lot of training to accomplish what I can do, and yet I feel that I shouldn’t share it with the world because I’ll be judged.

That doesn’t sit well with me, especially since I live to break down stereotypes and pole fitness has a long way to go before the stigma is gone. Pole dancers are stereotyped, stigmatized and judged. Not by all, but certainly by a large part of the population.

Ignoring the haters, those who throw shade

I feel like it’s time I got back to my roots and help break down this stereotype. People will always judge you, no matter what you do, so you might as well do what you want. I’m not saying there won’t be consequences.

We do live in a society with a certain set of cultural norms, but if you hold true to who you are and what you believe is right, who knows, maybe you’ll help break down a stereotype or two along the way.

It is this passion and zest for life that prompted me to post a couple of pictures from last night’s pole training session on my InstagramSo, is your opinion the only one that matters? I’d like to think so.

What sacrifices have you made, or what parts of your life have you changed or hidden to avoid judgment?