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Activly Engaged: Clare Stringer


The Muscle Barbie of Pole Fitness Proves that Barbie Can Do Anything, with the Right Amount of Food and Exercise


When you think about Barbie, what comes to mind? Pretty? Fun, or maybe small? No? Well, I don't see why not. She's tiny, even for a toy doll. The irony? Barbie was originally created for a larger, more political purpose.


Barbie made her debut at a New York toy fair in 1959. She was created to show young girls that they could be and do anything; they have options. Somewhere between her illogical proportions and dream house, Barbie lost her way. According to cbsnews.com:

If Barbie were an actual woman, she would be 5'9" tall, have a 39" bust, an 18" waist, 33" hips and a size 3 shoe. She likely would not menstruate... she'd have to walk on all fours due to her proportions

That sounds uncomfortable. Yet men and women alike strive to have the same proportions as these plastic toys. Clare Stringer was one of those people, desperate to be the smallest person in the room to which she responded, "I had to retrain my brain. Like, ok. Just because you can't train in the gym, doesn't mean you don't eat."

Photographed by Simon Hooley @theimagecella

Clare's story begins as you would imagine. She started dancing at the age of 10, learning the benefits of a fit physique early. However, her idea of fit, like many young girls, was skinny. So, she trained accordingly, eating as little as possible and overindulging in cardio. As a result, like many young women, she developed an eating disorder. While attending a local fitness class, Clare observed a pole fitness class for the first time; it was fate because she "took to it like a duck to water." It wasn't until further her career in the fitness industry that her perception of what fit looks like changed. She began lifting weights and eating foods that support muscle growth; she wanted her body to reflect her hard work. As she got continued to teach and train, she wanted to develop herself in a greater way. She attended workshops and took courses. It wasn't long before she became a certified instructor. She didn't waste any time; she opened an aerial fitness studio while completing her degree in business management, and she continues to gain further qualifications, certifications, and accolades within the industry. Beauty and brains. Pole fitness is and has always been a controversial form of exercise. When asked why she believes that to be true, Clare responded:

There are two reasons why people criticize pole fitness: ignorance and a bit of jealousy. It's crazy that I still have to defend the integrity of what I do. The irony is that the pole fitness industry is very inclusive. The genre of exotic dance gives your clients an outlet to something they can't do Monday through Friday
Photographed by Simon Hooley @theimagecella

Anthony Rapp once said, "Labels are for cans, not people." It takes strength to find beauty and joy in something that the world has labeled as wrong. Clare is even stronger than she looks. Don't be mistaken, because strength requires maintenance and lots of it. Clare spent two years in treatment, climbing the pole of perspective. She emerged with a new lease on life to which she stated, "It [her eating disorder] nearly broke me. It'll never go away, but I can control it. There is no right or wrong body. You have to embrace your body." Barbie ain't got nothing on Clare. She's beautiful in real-life, inside and out.

ACTIVLY ENGAGED

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© 2020 by Anna Bilha