Thursday, December 8, 2011

Defending My Pole Sister

The other night, an article in the UK was published about one of my pole sisters, LuAyne Brown (aka, Lulu Minicooper Girl -- a US pole dancer).  I saw the link flashing across Facebook on my phone.  I immediately re-posted without reading it.  While I was in a meeting, I saw that a comment was posted under my link.  My friend pointed out how nasty mean the comments on the article were.  When I finally opened the article and read it, I was mortified.
Here's the article (click the link for videos and comments):

Flicking her bright red hair back, she swings up onto the pole, her thighs gripping the metal while the the audience cheers in applause.

At 252 pounds, LuAyne Barber - stage name Lulu - is not your average pole dancer.
But her ample body, a U.S. size 22, does not hold her back from the lifts, spins, slides, stands and grips that define the dance form's athletic routines.

Pole position: LuAyne Barber is 252 pounds but regularly competes on the pole dance competition circuit since taking up the dance form in 2006
Pole position: LuAyne Barber is 252 pounds but regularly competes on the pole dance competition circuit since taking up the dance form in 2006

Instead, the 5'4" Hanover, Maryland local is perhaps one of the most active in her pole dancing community, regularly competing against the toned, lithe bodies of her peers, since joining the circuit three years ago.

The 26-year-old, who works at a car dealership by day, has been pole dancing for five years, having taken up the unusual hobby in 2006 after having a baby.

As a former competitive cheerleader and dance student, Ms Barber was no stranger to the stage - but she still had to sum up a lot of courage to strip off and take a pole dancing class.

She told Closer magazine: 'I'd always wanted to try it, but I was worried about what people would think. But when I turned up for my first class and everyone was in stilettos and tiny shorts, regardless their different sizes, I felt a lot better.'

LuAyne Barber
LuAyne Barber
Dance fever: The Maryland local works at a car dealership by day but is a confident flesh-baring dancer by night

She recalls how, when younger, she did not eat well - and though she wasn't teased at school, she soon became 'ashamed' of her body.

The 'poling' classes changed her outlook: 'I was instantly hooked. It was the first time I'd felt sexy in years.'

Writing on her site,, the mother-of-two says she balances training on the 8-foot metal poles with her family life. She even has a practice pole installed in her home.

And while Lulu has gained something of a fanbase and has a YouTube channel dedicated to her increasingly ambitious moves, her husband, plumber Will Brown, 29, remains her number one fan.

LuAyne Barber
Mother-of-two: Ms Barber, left, now organises events for the Battle of the Pole Dance Studios

LuAyne Barber
LuAyne Barber
Practice makes perfect: The 26-year-old has a YouTube channel documenting her competition entries

'Will loves my dancing. I've always been curvy. I'm not going to let my weight stop me doing what i love,' she told the magazine.

Wearing a skin-tight leotard and five inch red wedge heels complete with calf ties, the red head is every part the pole dancer - but that doesn't stop her from standing out because of her body shape and size.

Ms Barber told the magazine that dancers have called her fat and that she looks like a 'beached whale.' Her new found pastime saw her weight drop, only to creep back up since the birth of her second child.

LuAyne Barber
Doin' the splits: The dancer has not let her weight, or her PCOS, hold her back

Unperturbed, the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome sufferer has turned her hobby into a charity venture, too, with proceeds from Battle of the Pole Dance Studios she organises helping to raise money towards PCOS research.

The dancer, who is yet to win a title, runs workshops and writes that she 'is not giving up her dream of becoming pro.'

First off, I want to publicly state (again) that I too weigh 252 pounds (well, as of the date this article was released I weight fluctuates every day).  It is really, really difficult to put that number out there.  Sure, I'm six feet tall, so my weight is distributed over a larger surface area, but my body is what Miss Roz The Diva would call "non-traditional."  I'm not a big girl.  I'm not fat.  I'm not ugly.  I'm just non-traditional.  :-) 

I have been very lucky (so far...fingers crossed) that the public response to me (my photos, videos and blog) have been VERY positive.  But I worry every day that I will receive a nasty comment or message and fall apart.  Hopefully I'm strong enough not to let one idiot's comment make me cry or anything, but I really do wish people weren't such assholes sometimes.

Anyway, back to Lulu.  The article was nice enough.  But the comments that followed by readers were terrible.  I'm not even going to repeat any of them.  You can read them on the website if you are so inclined.

What is it about the anonymity of the internet that makes people think its acceptable to say such vile and mean things?  Would you say those things to her face?  If you didn't want to see photos that would be "offensive" to you, why did you click the link entitled "252 pound pole dancer..."?  You don't lift yourself up by tearing someone else down, so what is the incentive to be mean?

I saw a great quote on Facebook the other day (before this article was even released) and it made me start thinking about positivity:  "Blowing out another's candle will not make yours burn brighter."  [author unknown.]

What a powerful statement.

When I named myself the "pole dance ambassador" for Northern California, I did it because I feel like ambassadors are supposed to bring people together.  I know there is drama between studios, dancers, instructors, studio owners/students, etc.  It is everywhere.  Read the article about Pole Bashing from Pole2Pole HERE.  The pole industry as a whole is already at a "disadvantage" since the rest of the world looks down upon us.  We don't need to tear each other up too.  You can also read PoleSkivvies' article about a student stealing your ideas and opening their own studio HERE.  You can't stop them so just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and take the higher road.

When I started going around to different studios and doing my Poletry in Motion blog posts, I decided up front that I would focus on the positive aspects of my visit.  I mean, so far it's been easy because I haven't had any bad experiences.  It doesn't mean I might not encounter it someday and, if it does, I'll decide how to deal with it then.  But for the most part, I want to focus on the fun I had.  Have I witnessed some drama or heard gossip?  Sure.  Would I repeat it to anyone else?  Hell no.  I also want studio owners to feel like I am a welcome guest in class, and not the snake reporter trying to reveal the dirty secrets of their studio.

Also, when I go to performances, I am not a judge.  I am not there to critique.  I am there to have fun and enjoy an awesome performance.  There is no reason for me to then write a blog piece about messed up moves.  Hell, I can't do 90% of the moves most performers are pulling off, so I choose to write positively about each performance. We are our own worst critics and I bet those performers are harder on themselves than I could ever be.  And I also bet I didn't notice half of their "mess ups."  My self esteem gains nothing by cutting someone else down.  Plus, it actually feels nice to say nice things about people and make them smile.  So why not do that? 

So back to Lulu again.  I give her so many, many props for putting herself and her weight and her issues out there.  Weight is just a number but it is sometimes hard to reveal.  I recently decided to start publishing myself.  Sadly, I did it to hopefully "shame" myself into losing weight.  It hasn't worked so far.  I'm still plugging along though.  Pilates.  Yoga.  Pole.  Silks.  Still need to do more cardio.  But I'm taking this day by day.  My ultimate goal weight is still 200 pounds.  But for now, I'm only focusing on five pounds at a time.  I am trying not to obsess on it because if I don't get back there, I don't want to feel like a failure.  I want to be healthy and strong and whatever number shows up on the scale, I am trying to be okay with that.  Due to the gastric bypass, I get blood tests every year.  As long as those numbers keep saying I'm okay, then I'm okay!

I am not here to say I am a perfect person and never get caught up in negativity or gossip or bullshit.  There are many people who would love to come tell you about what an asshole I am.  But my first inclination is to give everyone a chance.  However if YOU are bogged down in negativity and are constantly talking shit about EVERYONE you know, I get to a point of realizing I can't keep a relationship with you going.  So I drop "friends" like that.  It doesn't mean I don't miss some parts of the friendship.  But I can't spend my life surrounded by people who bring me down when there are a lot of amazing people in my life who deserve my full attention. 

Sure I don't like everyone I meet, but I am not a fake person.  What you see is what you get.  And I just happen to believe that you don't need to fail in order for me to succeed.  So I will continue to choose to post as positively as I can.  And if you catch me falling into the gutter, feel free to call me out.  :-)


  1. I absolutely love your authenticity, integrity and wisdom, just wanted to let you know that.

  2. Hi Twirly Girl! I saw this post as it circulated around facebook and I saw the negative (and some positive!) responses. SHAME on anyone who is making mean remarks about this woman. Good for her for getting out there, doing something she loves, that makes her feel good about herself, and that will even improve her health. Some assholes just dont' know real courage when they see it. Thanks! -Winter from Park City

  3. Great story. People like to lash out at others who have the courage and confidence to do what they can't. Keep doing what you love and setting an example for others.

  4. Love you Lori! Thank you for writing down (in an eloquent manner) what a great many of us were already thinking. This is a great blog!!!

  5. Love you too, Lo! And thank you!! I give Lulu a million props for putting herself out there. I know the heavier I got, the more invisible I became. I'm so happy to see she isn't disappearing like I did!