The Ex-Stripper Dilemma: Reflections from a Cubicle

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For years I worked as a stripper, and with that comes an inordinate amount of self-upkeep: shaving, tanning, tweezing, extreme hair care, makeup application techniques, exercise, exercise, exercise, diet, diet, diet.

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Now I’m not doing that anymore, and one of the biggest aspects I miss about it is that constant physical upkeep. No one tells little girls that maintaining the standard of beauty that we set for ourselves takes hours and hours of work, and lots and lots of money. My discretionary spending has been drastically reduced in my new position, but I still like to spend it on the things that I used to do to be stripper-ready. I get eyelash extensions from a place that does them cheap. I use “good” shampoo and conditioner. I own at least one NARS cosmetic product.

But I’m not even close to what I used to do. I just can’t afford it. Things like laser hair removal, which wind up being a big part of expenses to maintain that aesthetic, are just too expensive. Getting a pedicure every two weeks is pretty much out of the question. My fingernails are “stressed-out” short, with flaking light pink polish — a far cry from the gleaming acrylic French tips of my dancing days. I’ve sacrificed my outward appearance for a smaller paycheck in a regular job, and frankly, that bums me out. Now I almost want to go back into stripping just so I can afford to look hot all the time. It’s a weird conundrum.

Doing it as a dancer, I was able to draw a clear connection between those expenses and my income. Now, it doesn’t translate as clearly, but I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on something by letting the tan go, and not getting my nails done every two weeks. By not adhering to a pretty strict diet, by not training at the gym as much. Besides making more money at the club, other little doors seem to open when you are hyper-meticulous about your appearance.

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When you have the stripper-hotness on, people go out of their way to do little favors for you, or just go out of their way to tell you they think you’re beautiful. The cubicle version of myself doesn’t get all those little perks and compliments. And I’m a little disappointed personally when I look in the mirror and see that things aren’t up to par, at least from a stripper standpoint.

That job raised the bar on my personal appearance, and I started working that job at a time in my life when I was struggling with bad decisions stemming from self-esteem issues. By meeting the high standard of appearances in that profession, I was able to shake off the shackles of self-doubt. I knew I was beautiful — I had put in a lot of work to make sure of it, and I had proof I could take the bank.

By giving up that job — a job most people look down on — I’ve also lost some of my self-esteem. I don’t think people who denigrate that kind of work realize how high some of these girls get on looking their absolute best pretty much all the time. It’s a form of self-development that gets overlooked when the masses rush to judge the girls who work in that industry.

Besides the money, that self-development was one of the best things about being a stripper. Now I feel plain, but I have a job people respect.


Guest Blog: Sarah Tressler

Sarah grew up in Houston, and has written for the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. She received her master’s in journalism from New York University in 2009, after which she worked as a red carpet reporter for Us Weekly. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

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