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    News

    The Truth About Taboo

    The Truth About Taboo

    “What would your mother say!?!?!”
    That is what I read when I logged onto facebook a few years ago. I had just posted images from my very first pole dancing photo shoot and I was so excited. Honestly speaking, I had not thought about what anyone would say or think or do. I had already been a pole dancer for one year and was preparing for my first public showcase. As luck would have it, I was able to book a professional photographer to take some sensual, yummy pole dancing images of me. I was so excited about this new found lifestyle of mine and all I wanted to do was live it out loud. I read the comment again. “What would your mother say?!?!” In that innocent yet chastising statement was so much gunk and grime from years of societal standards regarding women’s behavior. Ideals surrounding what I could and could not do with my body, especially publicly. Expectations regarding my family’s name. A not-so-subtle implication that reputation proceeded my own pleasure. That statement was loaded! I wrote her back. “Actually, not only does my mother approve of my latest exploration into sensuality and sexuality, she also wants to learn to pole dance too. More-so than that, if she did not approve, that would change absolutely nothing for me. I am a grown woman. My life is my own.” A few hours later my mother, who is on facebook too….and my facebook “friend” wrote under the brewing comment that she was proud of me! It made me smile. I do know however, whether my mother approves or not, my life as a pole dancer is a taboo.

    According to dictionary.com, ""a taboo is a vehement prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behavior is either too accursed or too sacred for ordinary individuals to undertake…. usually under threat of supernatural punishment.""  Taboos are improper and unacceptable as proscribed by society but they are subject to alter, change or be completely done away. I love the definition that states, “….set apart as sacred.” My life as a dancer is sacred and not for the faint of heart or the ""ordinary."" You know what else use to be taboo in the US and still is in many parts of the world?
    • A woman seeking an education.
    • A woman wanting a career.
    • A woman wearing a bikini.
    The list could go on in many different directions from simple attire to major lifestyle issues. You get the point. Despite the fact that I had graduated from high-school at the age of 16, attended college on a full academic scholarship, and lived a successful and artistic life on my own terms while traveling the world, volunteering and embarking on a self reflective spiritual transformation that even led me on a 10 day silent retreat deep in the woods…..I was still being asked, “what would your mother say?” All because I had decided to take pole dancing classes. I hadn’t even lived at home in over 10+ years but apparently my mother's voice or society's voice was to have a ruling effect over how I lived and expressed myself. Even  though living on your own terms is LEGAL and your human right, I know that many GROWN woman (and men) find it hard to do so. There are many reasons.
    • They are afraid of being ostracized.
    • They are afraid of being ridiculed.
    • They are afraid of failing.
    • They are afraid of what their mother might say….or their husband, best friend, cousin, neighbor, sister, boss, etc.
    I understand the fear but I am going to have to side with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Her quote resonates with my soul. “Well behaved women rarely make history.” The first well known documented case of this is EVE! She ate that forbidden apple...or fig. That one bite, according to Christianity, changed humankind FOREVER. If the bible isn’t your cup of tea, take a look at the book, “Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History’s Most Notorious Women” by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon. In her introduction, she wrote, “All the women in this book have one thing in common: they caused a scandal, a commotion and they bumped up against the status quo. Each ran counter to conventional behavior and each caused gossip, furor, and anger among her contemporaries. They were free, unafraid to take a stand, to make a mess if necessary to achieve their goals, whether it was against oppression or liquor or for religious freedom. Some were movers and shakers in terms of changing events; others left behind a legacy of brilliance and great art. “ Elizabeth gives voice to familiar and unfamiliar names such as Cleopatra, the woman who was never meant to be queen and yet her face launched 1,000 ships. She tells the stories of others such as Anne Boleyn, Calamity Jane and Joan of Arc, a woman who threatened notions of power, religion and gender sexuality norms…all stemming from the fact that she claimed she spoke directly to god. She was considered a witch, by the way. Most of these women were considered witches, whores, and hysterically institutionally crazy. Yet they paved the way for me to pole dance, travel, date whomever I want, sign my own lease to my own apartment, write blogs stating my opinions, thoughts and epiphanies and more. In reading that book a few key characteristics stood out about these phenomenal and notorious women. They seized every advantage. They were charming, independent, intelligent, witty, powerful, brave, influential, fascinating, vivacious and not to be denied. Most were indifferent to public opinion, lived a life of reckless courage and were not passive participants in their lives.

    I  believe that exploring taboos can lead to your personal truth. Whether accursed or sacred, I know for a fact that pole dancing, or dating on my own terms, or exploring the depths of my sexuality have led to a greater sense of awareness, satisfaction and clarity. At the risk of being ostracized for living on my own terms, my sense of curiosity showed me what I was really made of in relation to the rest of the world. Want some quick tips on exploring, challenging or breaking taboos?
    • Speak your mind.
    • Follow your gut.
    • Ask questions.
    • Experiment.
    • Create your own definitions.
    Each chapter in Scandalous Women, highlights a woman in history that will not be forgotten. I close with an excerpt regarding Jane Digby. “Jane lived a remarkable life but she paid a high price for the choices she made, ostracized by most of her relatives and polite society and alienated from her children. She saw her name become a byword for scandal. Despite all this, Jane was able to look back on her life with no regrets. She had lived fully and loved.” To answer the lady who wrote on my facebook wall, ""What would my mother say?"" I’m not quite sure. But I do know that each day, I live fully and I have loved. That is what matters to me.

    Do you have a lifestyle or hobby that runs counter to “proper” culture? Are you a pole dancer? Maybe you like bondage? Perhaps you swear like a sailor? Maybe, just maybe you’re the only religious or spiritual person in your close group of friends?

    What has your experience been due to your taboo lifestyle? Is it worth being counter cultural or would your life had been better if you had only behaved yourself?

    Sheena LaShay is a Wild Magical Woman, Boudoir Photographer, Videographer, Writer and most importantly a Pole Dancer. She writes for SheenaLaShay.com, Owning Pink, Verizon Wireless and is the Co-President & Editor-in-Chief of the #PDBloggers.

     Photography by Glen Graham

    5 Ways to Style Your Bodybinds for Everyday Wear

    Waiting for my Bodybinds was like waiting for Christmas morning. The excitement and anticipation as I counted down the days, diligently checking the mailbox, and hoping beyond hope they might arrive early. When the magical moment did arrive I ran from the mailbox, swept clear the table, and got to work. Like a child under the Christmas tree I tore open the package with as much reverence for the beautiful pieces inside as I could manage while still not slowing my attainment of these new goodies. Once released from their plastic prison I laid out the pieces… gorgeous ... and began to fantasize of who I could be in these pretty things. I love clothing. I love all that clothing allows you to be. What we put on our bodies in is so much more than just a covering to keep the elements out – its self-expression, creativity, a statement, a transformation. It can shout, “World, this is who I am!” or whisper “Don’t you want to know more?” A woman in a full skirt and heels walks into a room very differently than one in doc martins and a leather jacket. And while a flowy maxi dress can transform you into a Grecian goddess, a perfectly tailored suit will demand others to pay attention. You decide how you present yourself and what sides of yourself you want to share. You decide who you want to be and clothing communicates it. That is a pretty powerful thing, but unfortunately, easily forgotten. The arrival of my Bodybinds reminded me of the joy of dress up. They practically beg you to experiment with them and demand to be worn as often as possible. They have the ability to  transform even the most basic outfit into something fresh and new. So you better believe once I got my Bodybinds, I had one massive session of dress-up!

    Here are my favorite ways to incorporate Bodybinds into your everyday wear:

    1. Add interest to a basic look

    We all have our tried and true essentials in our closets, but why not use Bodybinds to take your boring basics to the next level and create a truly unique look? I layered the Betty Skirt over a staple black pencil skirt, but you can also add the Diamond Monokini over a tank and under jeans or experiment with the Fleur Dress over a solid bodycon dress for a one-of-a-kind look!

    2. Layer your Bodybinds over soft, flowy layers

    Nothing accentuates soft, feminine curves like hard, straight lines shown in juxtaposition. Use pieces like Bodybinds' Cage Top or Rebecca Bondage Top over a maxi dress or flowy top to nip in at the waist while allowing the layers of fabric to cascade over your curves.   

    3. Add your Bodybinds to a traditionally masculine outfit

    Bodybinds has the ability to be both feminine and masculine, strong and soft, and it is one of my favorite aspects to play with when putting together an outfit. Try going for a pop of femininity with a harder, masculine outfit by giving the world a peek of your lingerie-style Bodybinds. Try layering items like the Kitty Bra under a flannel or the Betty Skirt over jeans to give viewers an unexpected tease of naughtiness.

    4. Give retro items an edgier, modern flare

    I am partial to 40's and 50's styling and designs, but after awhile all those girlish full skirts and sweet pastel details can leave a girl in desperate need of some modern edge. Make Bettie Page proud by layering Bodybinds' bondage inspired pieces, like the Michelle Bikini Top or Emily Bra, over a fitted wiggle dress or peter pan collar button-up. Try pulling out your vintage store finds from all eras and mix and match with Bodybinds for an updated look!

    5. Use Bodybinds to bring out accent details

    I am thoroughly obsessed with small, unique details in clothing and love to call the viewers attention to them. Bodybinds Classics Collection comes in a plethora of colors and their BLACK Collection all feature a reverse side in multiple colors which can be used to draw your eye to areas of interest. I used the red side of the Cage Top to focus on the exposed red zipper. The bold graphic design of Bodybinds' stark lines on the body can also frame gorgeous body art and jewelry.

    So what amazing, one-of-a-kind looks will you create with your Bodybinds? Be sure to share your results with us!

    Jillian is an avid pole dance student, accessories and costume designer, rhinestone aficionado, and a PDBloggers Executive Commitee Member. She also writes at PoleGeek.blogspot.com.

    Bodybinds and #PDBloggers GIVEAWAY!!!!

    Bodybinds and #PDBloggers GIVEAWAY!!!!

    Dear gorgeous readers, we interrupt our weekly schedule of Monday morning blog posts to announce an amazing giveaway happening on the Pole Dancing Bloggers Association website.

    One lucky winner will be gifted with a $200 Bodybinds giftcard. The contest is open to everyone everywhere and is only voided were prohibited by law. To enter the giveaway, head on over to the #PDBloggers website for more details! The contest begins TODAY and runs until March 31, 2014!

    Yoga 101: Exercise Perfected

    Yoga 101: Exercise Perfected

    Credit: Grand Velas Riviera Maya

     

    When it comes to the gym, there are usually two goals in mind.

    1. Lift something heavy

    2. Run on a treadmill to get the heart rate up.

    Often times, we skip (or skimp) on another important aspect of fitness....stretching our muscles after we work-out.

    If you are looking for a well-rounded work-out and want to get the most bang for your buck, then on option worth exploring is yoga. Depending on the type of class you choose, you may be able to combine weight training (using your own body weight), cardio (flow) and stretching in a single class.

    There are many types of yoga to fit the need of every budding yogini. If you believe adding yoga to your work-out regimen would benefit your body, here are descriptions of some of the more popular types of yoga, so that you can find the right one for you. Keep in mind that every posture can be modified, so with a few exceptions, no matter your level of fitness, you can experience great results in most classes.

    ASTANGA

    Ashtanga is a vinyasa flow class (""vinyasa,"" among other things, generally means the sequence of poses you hold). You often move fairly quickly through the poses, which helps work up a sweat. The breath should be linked with the movement. Years ago, there was a belief that Americans didn't understand Ashtanga yoga, so ""Power Yoga"" was created. It operates under the same theory, however.

    IYENGAR

    Iyengar yoga, named for its creator, encourages reaching a deeper level of flexibility by holding poses longer and using props. Alignment is extremely important and adjustments are encouraged due to the extended length of time the poses are held.

    VIN

    Vin yoga or viniyoga is gentle and restorative. Sometimes used post-injury, this type of yoga still syncs the breath with the movement but will rarely cause you to work up a sweat. 

    BIKRAM

    Bikram yoga is performed in a room heated to over 100 degrees. It is designed to be a 90-minute class performing 26 specific poses. The theory is that the heat helps your body rid itself of toxins. Some believe the heat also allows the body to reach a deeper stretch. Some critics claim working out in high temperatures can be dangerous and sometimes the body may over-stretch due to the heat.

    HATHA

    Hatha yoga is generally a mix of various types of yoga. You often may not be able to tell how vigorous the class is just by looking at the schedule, so you may want to inquire as to the instructor's chosen yoga techniques.

    YOGA POSES 101

    One pose common to every yoga practice is downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Downward dog is such a great pose all by itself (provided your wrists are not giving you trouble). The weight placed on the arms and shoulders helps build upper body strength, it can help ease back pain and loosen stiff hamstrings. Gentler options include dolphin pose or child's pose. For most vigorous yoga classes, this is your resting pose. Keep in mind if you have high blood pressure, going upside down may not be appropriate for your yoga practice. 

    A lot of people complain of hip and back pain. That can sometimes mean that you are plagued by a tight psoas muscle. One-Legged King Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), even modified, is the perfect pose to stretch that muscle. Want to build strong legs? The Warrior pose series (Virabhadrasana I, II, and III) is where you want to head. Need to loosen your hips? Happy baby pose (Ananda Balasana) is a good starting place. Tight lower back? Cobra pose (Bhujangasana) can help you there.

    You may be tempted to miss the final few minutes of class, usually reserved for savasana (corpse pose). We often rush through our days, taking little time for ourselves. As challenging as it can be to quiet our mind, savasana helps you reach complete relaxation and is a very important part of yoga practice. It allows our mind, body and spirit to realign. If you are new to yoga, you may not succeed in completely clearing your mind the first few times. However, with practice, this pose may become one of your favorites.

    As class carefully rolls out of savasana, many yoga instructors end with chanting or thoughts-of-the-day. Typically, the final word spoken is “Namaste” as hands are brought to heart center and instructor and class bow to each other as a sign of respect. Namaste does literally mean “I bow to you,” however, many instructors explain that it also means that the light in her or him is recognizing the light in each of their students.

    Yoga could possibly be the perfect exercise. Most cities and towns have multiple yoga studios with classes for every level. Certainly, you could do any of these poses on your own, but joining a yoga class with an excellent instructor could mean the difference between getting a good work-out and just doing a few stretches. Challenge yourself: take yoga classes three times a week for a month and see if and how it changes your life.

    Is yoga part of your exercise regimen? If not, take a class and come back to tell us about it. Please feel free to comment below with your yoga stories!

    *****

    Lori is a plus-sized pole dance instructor, #PDBloggers Board Member and writes her own blog called Confessions of a Twirly Girl.

    Tie Me Up, Please

    Tie Me Up, Please

    Binding the female body is a tradition that has existed across a number of cultures and has been around for centuries. What is this obsession with forcing female bodies into a more aesthetically pleasing shape at any cost? As someone who will suffer through an evening of wearing 4-inch stilettos because I like how they make my legs look, I can hardly get on my high horse about the issue. In fact, my fascination with binding the body is perhaps even tinged with a bit of awe at just how far women will go in order to appear more beautiful. Binding, however has a special connotation. It implies – even demands – restriction. And it is inherently oppressive. Right?

    Foot binding started in the 10th or 11th century in China. It involves applying painfully tight binding to the feet in order to prevent further growth. Bound feet were known as “Lotus Feet” and were considered not only beautiful but a sign of wealth and status in Chinese culture. The foot binding process started early - between the ages of two and five. Young girls toes were broken and bent back, then bound. The average foot length for bound feet was 3 inches. It was not until 1912 that foot binding was outlawed in China, under pressure from Christian feminists. Thank God. I don’t think we have to debate whether or not foot binding had any merits. Beautiful or not, it was a cruel punishment to the young girls who suffered from the practice. Corsets are another form of binding that became popular in Europe in the 16th century and reached their peak in the Victorian era. The corset was thought to highlight and accentuate the beauty of the female form. Corsets, like foot binding, also posed health risks to women, yet in spite of doctors’ warnings their popularity continued to thrive until World War I. Today corsets have seen a resurgence in fashion in both sexual fetishism and in high-end couture designers like Peter Soronen. Corsets today are far kinder than the ones of yesteryear. While I would never want to be forced to wear one continuously, I love putting one on for an evening. The effects on the silhouette can be dramatic and to me they feel deeply feminine and extremely erotic. Because of their connection today to both binding the female body and sexual fetishism, corsets have a sexual charge to them. They are lingerie and shapewear at the same time. They highlight the female form. And yet, they are cumbersome and restrictive. It is difficult to bend in them much less dance. And so they have their limitations, quite literally.

    I hate to do away completely with binding. As a woman who occasionally likes being tied up and who understands the various pleasures of restriction, I think the bound female body has its place in our culture not as a symbol of oppression but as a living paradox. The binding of the female body, when initiated freely by the woman being bound, represents submission and exhibitionism at the same time. That’s an intoxicating combination. Am I advocating that we return to corsets and foot binding, or, worse yet, condone visual representations of women being violently restricted against their will? Absolutely not. But I am suggesting that a sensory exploration of body binding, done in a safe, sane and consensual manner could actually be pleasurable for some women. And who knows, you might actually become a little less restricted.

    Mimi Clark is a writer, #PDBloggers member, anime art enthusiast and lover of all things sensual.  You can read more of her stuff at her blog dislocatedoll.wordpress.com

    Photo Credit: vtdainfo via Compfight

    Photo Credit: caroldarosa via Compfight

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