Moms of Stillwater: Athena wears stilettos


Have you ever noticed that our most judgmental selves surface in response to insecurity? When threatened by something that makes us feel small or insufficient, nothing feels better than to criticize the attacker. We craft all sorts of clever arguments to help us feel better about ourselves, but the real reason those ugly horns come out is in response to not being “enough” of something.

Not successful “enough.”

Not popular “enough.”

And the society-induced fear of not sexy “enough.”

This last one is complicated. On one hand, we might be trying desperately to keep ourselves young. We pluck. And color. And sometimes even … inject (move over Bunco, Botox parties have taken over girls’ night in).

But on the other hand, we often scrunch our noses up at sexually overt displays, as if somehow there isn’t room in ourselves to house both maturity and sexuality. Like we had to hand over our heels once we secured that infant seat into the minivan.

But, I know about your shoes.

I know you have one pair of strappy, or maybe lace-up, heels that you couldn’t pass up at the store, and even though you can’t think of a single suitable event in the next five years to wear them, it feels better to have them in your closet than not at all. Maybe you slip them on once in a while in your sweatpants to remind yourself that you are not yet a slave to those thick soled Keens that can prop open a sliding minivan door and guard your big toe against a rogue can of soup.

You have one pair of deliciously unpractical shoes. Completely ornamental.

Or maybe you have more restraint than I do in a shoe department and you never brought those shoes home. But I’m willing to guess you still flip them over and check for your size when no one’s looking.

My initial reaction to news of a pole dancing studio opening up in Stillwater was similar in nature. I couldn’t think of a practical reason for me, a mother of four young children, to ever take a spin on a dancing pole, and yet I was curious to peek inside those glittery windows and see what all the mystery was about. Try on a little unpractical glamour just to see if it could fit for a moment.

And glamorous it is. Walking up the stairs to the Pole Barn studio was more like walking up to Barbie’s Dream House than to any kind of barn I’ve ever visited. I felt pampered within two minutes of reaching the top stair and, with girlfriends in tow, I felt my previous fears of inadequacy fade away. I could do this. I could wear this shiny shoe for a night, right?

We entered a room in which two lovely silk hammocks hang, and I had to fight the urge to cower down the staircase back out to my practical minivan; slip into my comfortable, tennis shoes. Any version of Cirque de Sole was out of my league; my spine simply doesn’t bend in those directions anymore.

But there was no contorting. No clowns. Instead, I felt more like a Grecian princess on a swing. Well, until my ambitious dismount (inverted happens quickly on a silk).

And then the real work began, and I realized there was no way Barbie could live here, no matter how many sequins pipe the throw pillows in the lobby. Athena, maybe.

Spins. Climb. Twirl. Lift.

That’s a lot for a girl who never even made it to the top of the climbing rope in gym class. And I’m not sure I’m shaking in the right places … I felt a little like a pudding pop, wondering how many times I had would have to spin around the pole before I solidified.

I was praying for that infamous “Flashdance” bucket of water to fall out of the sky. How do those girls do this for hours in these shoes? All I wanted to do was find some sturdy orthopedics with Dr. Scholl’s inserts and mail them to the Cajun Club.

But one night in my ridiculous cork heels was worth the pain. And bruising (not just of my ego). Courage is sexy at any age, and pole dancing requires a whole lot more than pretty shoes.

The Pole Barn Studio is located at 122 Water St. S. in downtown Stillwater. Visit to discover a new spin on fitness.