In Which I Take My Clothes Off For Money


Now before you get your panties all in a bunch, simmer down and listen, it’s not what you think. I don’t take my clothes off for men. I take them off for women. And not just women, mostly, I take them off for myself.

Get over it.

That is the motto that runs rampant in the “Sexy Survivors” dance class that I teach. You don’t like your butt? Get over it. You don’t like your post baby belly? Get over it. Your boobs are too small? Too big? GET OVER IT.

You need to love yourself, your true authentic self, every part that makes you who you are, every piece of you that tells the story of your journey. They are all you. My belly shows that I have mothered two children, and I am damn proud of it. My thigh bears the cigarette burns from my abusive ex. There is a healed knife wound on my shoulder, so faint that you can only see it when I am tan and in the right light, but I am well aware that it is there. My ankles bear the scars from the time that this happened.


“So,” you ask, “what’s with the shedding of your clothes?” Well, let me tell you. When I started working with the abused women in my support group, there was a recurring theme that kept popping up. Shame. Shame of their bodies, the scars that they bear, and the years of degradation that they had suffered at the hands of their abusers. Sure, the scars were healing, fading away, but they run deep. So deep. How do you heal them internally, where no amount of Mederma and vitamin E can reach? How do you reclaim what you have lost, your self esteem, your self worth, your pride? You learn to love yourself again.

Easier said then done. Most of us survivors, we are masters of disguise. Hiding our scars, hiding our perceived “failures,” burying them down where no one can see them, all the while dressing up in our long sleeved sweaters and make-up, putting on our “I’m ok” face to the world. After a while, we aren’t just hiding them away from the world, we are hiding them away from ourselves. I know what it’s like to avoid the mirror. Not wanting to see your scars, literally recoiling in shame when you catch the accidental glimpse in the mirror.

Then one day, in one of those “heat of the moment” moments with a…eh hem….friend, I apologized for a scar I caught him looking at. He looked at me and said “Its a scar. Its your battle wound. You survived it, I’m proud of you, now get over it.” At first I was offended. “Get over it!? GET OVER IT!? What the hell do you mean just GET OVER IT. Do you have any idea what I have been through?” Once I was calm enough to actually listen to him and release him from my murderous death grip (ok, just kidding about that last part), he explained to me his reasoning and I have to say, it made sense. I have been through a lot, there is no denying that, but these scars, they are a part of me. They are a part of who I am. I need to get over the shame of them, get over the embarrassment, and get over the stigma that I had fabricated in my mind. I needed to let go of the negative association that I was attaching to them, and love myself.

So flash forward a few months and I am sitting with a friend who’s story rivals mine in terms of un-believability and lessons in just how horrible humans can be to each other. She is telling me that she just wants to feel sexy again. That she is struggling to love her body enough to be comfortable to do the things with her husband that couples do. That makes me so sad 🙁  She tells me that she is thinking of taking a pole dancing class in order to gain some of her self confidence back, but she is too ashamed to be the only scarred up one there, and will I go with her? I say sure, we look at classes, and realize they are all in the city. Now here is a random fact about me, I don’t drive on the highway. Some crazy phobia I have developed over time. Almost as crazy as my phobia of fish. They don’t blink. That is just not natural. Anyways, the highway makes it off limits for me and the price makes it off limits for both of us, but it gets me thinking. I’ve danced my whole life. There is something about getting my body to do exactly what I want it to do that is just so freeing. When the music is on and I get to be in control of every muscle in my body, it is a form of freedom that has not always been a constant in my life, and it is so empowering. Thanks to a job I worked for a few years in physical therapy clinic and my “near completed but never quite got there” almost certification in personal training, I have a fairly good understanding of the human body. Are you thinking what I am thinking?

I can teach this class. I can make this a place where women come to “get over it.” All of us together,  gaining that freedom back, becoming empowered. Standing in front of the mirror, shedding our clothes, facing our scars, together. Gaining back our confidence, becoming proud of the armor that we wear, allowing for once, our bodies to move in the way that we want them too. To do the things that feel natural to us, that SHOULD feel natural to us. Sexuality is a natural thing. Hello, it is the driving force as to why we are all here. To lose your sexual identity and sexual confidence, its sad, because you are missing out on an entire level of who you are.

Thus “Bedroom Bodies,” was born. I don’t advertise it, none of my friends know about it, but twice a week, after the organic dinner is fed, stories are read, tiny people are cuddled, and I tuck my children into bed, I sneak out the door (yes, I have a babysitter, calm down), and I meet with a group of survivors. They all come by word of mouth, new one’s appear every week, solidifying the knowledge that we are all craving to get back what we have lost, what was stolen from us, ripped right off of the fabric that makes us who we are, and what is so seldom talked about in current recovery groups. It starts out chatty, talking like best friends, often wiping away the tears of those still struggling to recover their lives, and surrounded in the feeling of knowing that we are among some of the only people in the world that understand exactly what we have been through. Then….the music starts. Last night it was Ke$ha and Pitbulls “Timber.” The lights go down, paper goes up to cover the little window on the door, and the clothes start to come off. Not all at once, but throughout the session down to our bra and underwear. I teach them how to move their bodies in a way that makes them proud to show their significant other and mostly, to be proud of themselves. In return, they continue to teach me to accept myself. When class is over, we all quietly slip home. For some, the skills that they have learned in class will make for a very hot night (or morning, or lunch break, hey, no judgment)! For others, it is simply about tearing away the shame and building up their confidence. But for all of us, we are getting over it. Together.

I love the class. I wouldn’t trade teaching it for anything in the world. And it is pretty awesome to be able to go to work dressed like this:

This is my true authentic self. This is the fabric that is me, the armor that I wear. These are my battle wounds. They are my gold star, my purple heart, my “job well done.” This is the living proof that I am a survivor. This is me, all of me, and if you don’t like it, get over it. I have.

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27 Comments

  • Cory
    December 10, 2013 at 2:04 am

    You are one FREAKING HOT momma!!

    • NotMyShametoBear
      January 5, 2014 at 5:13 am

      🙂

  • Anonymous
    December 24, 2013 at 5:07 am

    Seriously, two kids? I hate you. For real.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      December 24, 2013 at 6:13 am

      ha!

  • Anonymous
    December 24, 2013 at 8:18 am

    You're a truly amazing person <3

    • NotMyShametoBear
      December 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      Aw, thanks!! 🙂 I don’t know about amazing, but I will happily take the flattery lol!!!

  • Jessica Scofield
    December 28, 2013 at 4:55 am

    Please,tell us what happened to your foot? And how you recovered…

  • Jessica Scofield
    December 29, 2013 at 12:46 am

    That must have been hell being stuck with the evil husband while recovering. Your kids must have been like a lighthouse. I'm glad your body healed so well.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      December 29, 2013 at 9:20 am

      I didn’t have my kids yet, thank gosh, it was right shortly after we got married, but it was hell. I cried ALL the time. He rarely came home, and when he did, I was expected to still do everything for him. I literally would be hopping around and trying to vacuum. I can laugh about it now, but back then it was awful. He didn’t even visit me in the hospital 🙁

  • Ruth Cooke
    December 31, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Thanks for the smile. Have you considered adding other types of survivors (especially those who have had surgery for breast cancer, etc.) to your “clientele”? It seems to me that a class like this would be a great fit for them too!

    • NotMyShametoBear
      December 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

      Absolutely!! I never turn a woman away who is recovering from anything. I currently have a couple women that have no scars what-so-ever, but are just struggling with loving themselves. I also have one woman who has never endured any abuse, but was left with quite a bit of scarring after an abdominal surgery. Anyone is welcome, all are hugged. 🙂 Only ever turned away one client, and that was because he was a VERY interested man…….I’m not even sure how he found out about us!

  • Ruth Cooke
    December 31, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    LOL with the man–for the sake of your dancers, I would think it best to have the classes be only women. I wish I was close enough to participate–I've got some scarring of my own, and body image issues do to being overweight (which the dancing would definitely help with!)Fantastic work at finding a need and helping others!

    • NotMyShametoBear
      December 31, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Well no matter what you look like, own it, be proud of it, set the standard for beauty, YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!

  • Mary Boza
    January 4, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    You have a PHENOMENAL body. I agree, after 2 kids of my own, I hate you just a little bit. But I am impressed by you even more. You are so introspective and use exquisite detail in the words you chose. Please, continue.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      January 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Well that is quite the compliment! I will admit I am blushing over here 🙂

      So glad you have found your way here. Happy to have you Mary!

  • Anonymous
    January 6, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Perfection. No other words for a body like that except for perfection.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      January 30, 2014 at 10:12 am

      🙂

  • Nicholas Gibson
    January 30, 2014 at 7:04 am

    The kickass is strong with you.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      January 30, 2014 at 10:53 am

      That’s pretty freaking awesome lol

  • Anonymous
    April 26, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I've considered taking Yoga again. It was good for me.I grew up with a father harassing me every time I ate, and if I took a second helping, he would tell me I would get fat (fat is his word – I don't believe in that word at all). I won't explain what that does to a teenaged girl trying to feed her body to grow properly. We all know what it does.I'm a big girl now…I can eat when I want, without harassment, grew up to 160 pounds when I was pregnant, gave birth to two beautiful, children, and I am proud of my stretch marks, flabby belly, and all of my 110 pounds of myself. I am not fat. What an ugly word.Although I've learned my body is my body, and nothing to be ashamed of, I would so take your class over yoga :)Do you come to Canada?

    • NotMyShametoBear
      April 26, 2014 at 6:01 am

      I tried taking yoga in college and I was literally the girl doing that head bobbing trying to stay awake thing. I should not have taken it at 7am.

      I’m glad that you were able to develop a healthy body image despite what the views your father wrongly passed onto you 🙁

      I’m proud of you girl!!

      • NotMyShametoBear
        April 26, 2014 at 6:02 am

        And no, I’ve never been to Canada, but if I ever do come, I have a few million geese I’d like to return to your country.

  • Anonymous
    April 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    OMGoodness, no way!(absolutely cracking up right now to your response) Are the geese causing trouble? They're probably there because it's absolutely f***in' cold here still – yes still! There is still snow here, shit de merde! I've only seen a few in the region (geese), so does that mean summer (or even spring for that matter) is never coming? Please do send them our way, so we can have vegetables in the garden this year…geeez.Nathaliexoxoxox

    • NotMyShametoBear
      April 27, 2014 at 5:24 am

      Are they causing trouble? Yes!! They poop everywhere, they bite, they stand in the middle of the road and refuse to move, I hate them. Blech. Come get them.

  • Shawn
    February 9, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Like it? I love it! Wish you were laying next to me right now😛. In all seriousness, I'm happy that you're doing well and seem to be having fun. As gorgeous as you look they'll always be haters, sometimes that's the price you have to pay for looking good.

  • Sao Luo Bo
    December 16, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Not sure what to write. But your friend was right, its the battle wound. Nothing to be ashamed off! Wear it like a soldier!

    • NotMyShametoBear
      December 18, 2015 at 10:53 am

      Thank you 🙂

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