"Do You, Boo Boo" -- Lauren Manzano on Building Her Self-Worth As A Competitive Pole Dancer


"To dance is to rebel. 
It’s an unfortunate truth that many people, men and women alike, still view a woman who dances as one that is shameful. In many cultures, dancing is sinful and in certain places, illegal. However, dance can unlock a rewarding and powerful form of authentic expression. As a competitive pole dancer and instructor of many years, there are no truer words for me.

However, there is no shortage of people waiting to cast their judgements; I have been called “whore” by an extended family member (though my direct family including my Mexican grandfather and father are some of my biggest supporters) and have been asked why don’t I just “work my corner” by the ever-brave keyboard warrior online. Like any other “fringe” art that empowers a woman to explore her innate sensuality and sexuality by means of movement (and to take autonomy of those to turn a profit), there are many ready to condemn the dance and dancer for daring to ignore societal “norms.”

While someone might tell you that all you need is to “be strong” or have a high self-esteem, it is far more than that. It is an everyday challenge to remain confident despite criticism and judgement. My advice: own what you do despite what your critics say. If it does not violate your personal morals and values, then “you do you, booboo” with pride. Make peace with the incongruity of your choices and societal expectations. YOU will be far happier when you shed that unnecessary weight. When I go out on that stage or into a studio or out on the street, in a dress/jeans/8-inch stilettos, I don’t think about what others might say or think since that is a reflection of their insecurities, not mine.

Rebel by owning YOU. Rebel by DANCING."  — @laurenlmanzano

Lauren is an award-winning competitive pole dancer/instructor, bellydancer, and martial artist, who runs a podcast called NeruoNerds. Check out @laurenlmanzano for more info.