Pain, Purpleness, and Why Strippers are Tough Bitches
I’ve noticed that a lot of the girls around my club seem to have many of the same injuries, physical problems, and illnesses. Note: I’m not a doctor, nor do I have formal training in medicine, and these are only my observations.
Bruised knees: Impact from hitting them on the stage repeatedly throughout the night. Very commonplace among all of the girls.
Shortened calf muscles: Standing in 7” heels for many hours a week, the calf muscles are intentionally contracted (making the legs look more toned).
Poor posture: The misconception is that strippers have great posture. It appears so, when in heels, but the abdominal muscles are overstretched and the back muscles contracted (think chest out, butt out). It leads to an exaggerated curve of the spine and, often, chiropractic issues. Think of this as the opposite of a slouching problem.
Foot swelling: This one’s obvious. 7” stilletos direct the pounds-per-square-inch to be approximately that of an elephant (so I’ve been told, or read, somewhere—I’d have to look that up later).
Bone movement/restructuring in the feet: This is why new dancers’ fourth and fifth toes on each foot, and some tendons, hurt pretty badly at first. The shoes force the fourth and fifth toes inward and body weight puts pressure on them to stay there. The tendons and ligaments connect to the bones in the feet, and have to adjust to the new position of the foot and toes. According to x-rays of dancers’ feet, the stilletos cause microfracturing
Brittle fingernails: Many of the girls wear fake nails, or have acrylic nails done. For whatever reason, this causes their nails to become brittle when the fake nails are removed or the acrylics allowed to grow out/fall off.
Brittle hair: Straighteners, curling irons, three-barrel rollers, hair dye, bleach, hair spray, hair gel, smoothing drops, extensions, …and on and on. These things aren’t so bad for hair, until they’re done so often that some girls never seem to get their hair to grow at all. Hence why so many girls have extensions (“tracks”).
Frequent viral and bacterial sicknesses: The girls get so close to customers’ faces and hands, that it’s almost inevitable that we get sick so often. So far in the past year? I’ve had the H1N1 flu, strep three times, an ear infection, and a handful of sniffly-nosed colds that took me out for a day. Add to this a lack of health, dental, or vision insurance by most dancers, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Seasonal cough: “Smokers’ Cough” affects many smokers…and since most dancers are smokers in my club, most have the seasonal, hacking cough.
Alcoholism: It’s absolutely rampant. We’re allowed and encouraged to drink at work with the customers, and so many of the girls rely on it to do their job at first that they don’t stop drinking. Another co-worker today announced her ascent into rehab in the near future.
Substance abuse and dependence: Not as common, but still more frequent than the general population. Drugs generally don’t faze the girls whatsoever. It’s very discouraged by the club (termination if any illegal substances are found—and everything, everyone, and everyplace is recorded on camera). Substance use, abuse, or dependence doesn’t necessarily render a girl a social outcast and isn’t really a main factor in social heirarchy.
Eating disorders/Body dysmorphic disorder: Much more frequent than in the general population.
Sexual abuse or assault history: Pretty much the norm. It isn’t discussed, but simply understood, that we’re all pretty fucked up about sex for some reason.
Defiance disorders; inappropriate behavior in regards to authority figures, mores, and rules: Much, much, much, much higher than in the general population. You might call these girls “sassy” or “bitchy” or “tough”—but some, honestly, will probably never be able to “play by the rules”. In a dancer’s world, rules and social standards are created and enforced carefully by the top dancers—usually the one’s that display a lot of hostility towards traditional social constructs! The more defiant and aggressive a girl appears to be, the higher on the social ladder she climbs. Odd, hm? I have yet to figure out why the other, less defiant, girls seem to follow them.
Unhealthy sex lives, attitudes, or practices: This could be related to the job, to a prior history of sexual abuse or assault, attitude towards her body, or any number of things. I’m not saying “why”; I’m saying, it exists. Dancers seem to float one of two ways: either into a realm of not wanting to be sexual on a personal level often (sometimes floating into complete sexual aversion), or being hypersexual in her personal life (sometimes including risky sex partners and practices).
Concussions, broken bones, sprained/twisted ankles, pulled shoulders, pulled hamstrings, etc.: Not as commonplace as you’d expect! Surprisingly, bad falls aren’t common, but they do happen occasionally.
…more as I think of them, I’m sure…