Why I’m Teaching My Daughters How To Pole Dance

Posted on 12 May 2018

By Emerson White

It may be hard for some to imagine, but growing up, I existed in the kind of environment where as a young girl in a private school, I was regularly required to lift my skirt to prove that I was wearing shorts underneath, and also kneel on the ground to prove that my skirt touched the floor.  It was all part of the “modesty” clause at my school. 

This sort of “modest is hottest” mentality was used like a club to my head throughout my childhood.  My value as a young woman was placed in an ever-changing definition of “virtue,” one that demanded I conform to the expectation that I not draw too many eyes or be too beautiful.  As I grew into a young woman, I was taught that my sexuality was sinful until I was married, and even then, that a man valued a woman for what she kept hidden rather than what she revealed.

Cheerleading was out of the question as a teenager, because the routines were too sensual and the uniforms too exposing.  I never got to take dance, partially because of the cost, but also because deep down, my parents worried about how people would perceive me or that I would tap into a sinfulness that would lead me –and others who watched me – astray.

That was twenty years ago.  I like to think that as a society we’ve come some distance from those days, and yet all it takes is the word “pole” and “dancing” in combination for the eyebrows to raise or the awkward jokes to commence.  I have two daughters, and when they first noticed my pole at home, and saw me dancing, they were magnetically drawn in. They wanted to try, and asked if I would teach them.

As controversial as my pole dancing is in certain circles, the thought that I would not only allow my daughters to learn to pole, but that I would encourage this behavior was downright shocking to some.  What if they became “too sexy”?  Didn’t I think it was inappropriate?  The questions came flooding in, drowning me in criticism instead of a desire to understand.

Emerson's daughter taking a private lesson at ATX Pole Fitness Studio

Why do I teach my daughters how to pole dance?  Why do I pay for them to take semi-private pole fitness instruction on a monthly basis?

I teach my daughters pole because it is an incredible feat of athleticism, one that will make them physically strong, challenge them, teach them dance elements, and hopefully with cross-training, make them more limber and flexible. 

I teach them pole because it will make them strong emotionally, encouraging them to express themselves through movement and choreography, giving them the courage to speak out in a world that all too frequently stifles the voices of women. 

I bring them to my pole fitness studio because I want them to be around strong women, women who are unapologetically fierce, and unafraid to stand out.

Emerson's daughters showing off their feats of strength, and self-expression through movement on the pole. 

I teach my daughters pole because female sexuality is beautiful, and worthy of celebration. There is nothing wrong, sinful, or shameful about the female body, and the way they feel about their sexuality as girls will impact the way they feel when they’re teens, which will in turn impact the way they feel as women.  It’s all connected. 

The concept that young girls don’t possess sexuality is fallacy.  It may be innocent, barely budding like a new flower, slowly opening over time, but it is there, and the way we nurture young girls and their sense of burgeoning sexuality and sensuality will shape its growth and development. 

I teach my daughters pole because I reject the notion that girls belong on their knees, while society ensures their attire is acceptable enough for them to get on with the business of learning.

Pole dancing is a sport; it is art; it is expression.

All due respect to the naysayers, but that is why I teach my daughters pole dance.


Emerson is a mother, wife, and pole dance fitness addict.  In her spare time she sings, writes, and embraces life

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1 comment

  • Jennifer Schabes: September 20, 2019

    You, my dear are just exquisite! I cannot agree or identify with your situation and outlook more. Bravo! I have never felt more powerful and whole since starting pole. And I have absolutely brought my 18 year old daughter in as well. The sooner we feel more comfortable and confident in our own skin the better off we will be to ourselves and to anyone that we grace with our presence.
    Amen sister!

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