Out of the Shadows: Kandice Mason Speaks Out
Poletry in Motion had the opportunity to speak with Kandice Mason about her life experience pole dancing. In the midst of an abundance of public opinion and scrutiny, she is taking control of her own narrative.
What does a role model look like to you?
A role model, to me, looks like me. I AM a role model. When I first got wind I was going to be a 6th grade teacher I was so excited. I have SO many life experiences that they (my students) could probably identify with compared to a lot of other teachers who don’t have similar backgrounds to them. I came from losing my husband and having nothing. I was homeless for one year and life was very hard, but I never turned to anything illegal to make it in life. There’s so much I’ve had to deal with on my own. Working with kids is my passion and I feel like I could reach so many kids with my story. I am a role model because young women can can get a healthy visualization of what it looks like when a woman owns her identity and sexuality in all forms and demonstrates that ownership in healthy ways that uplifts her… She in essence defines herself without letting other people do it for her.
How do you talk to your own daughters about pole?
There isn’t really a discussion about it, it’s just normalized in my home. Sometimes they play around with it. It’s not a big deal to me. They’re so innocent about it. It’s non-sexual. They know that mommy pole dances and they don’t think anything of it. It’s just an artform. I always say that they’re my biggest fans. They love to watch me pole. Everytime they see me doing something cool they start clapping and cheer me on. My oldest daughter wrote me a note once. It said, “Mommy i love your poll dansing, I love you”. That made me so happy. They don’t really know the other side of it, but I did tell them there is a stigma and people can respond negatively to it.
What advice do you have for others going through the same thing?
Only you know your heart. Only you know what you cannot give up. If there is something in your life that means the fucking world to you and you can’t give it up, then don’t fucking ever give it up. As long as it’s legal of course (laughs). Whatever your dream is, go for it. Ask the universe, your guides, whoever higher power you believe in to help you. If it’s your dream, it will happen. I used to tell people I do this in my sleep. I used to have dreams of me mastering the eagle and spinning pirouettes. It’s my dream.
Do you consider yourself an advocate now?
Of course! I’ve always been an advocate for all women. I hate when people slut shame or try to tear down strippers and I’m very vocal about that. I’m a very outspoken person and always have been. Let’s uplift all women and the ways they choose to govern their adult selves.
What are your ideas around how we as a society can began to change perceptions about pole dancing?
First of all, pole dancers needs to stop being so secretive. The more of us that come out and say: ‘Yes, I pole dance! This is my secret account,’ the less chance we have of being discriminated against because of it. We have to come out and stop hiding. Let’s be open about it and not worry about the stigma. We first have to acknowledge that what we’re doing isn’t wrong or immoral, and stop feeding into the sexist narrative that we have to erase our sensuality and sexuality to be respected and valued as a woman by society. We have to stop policing ourselves and our sisters. Let’s go all out. We are grown. When we put our pages on private and hide, what we’re saying is that we agree that what we’re doing should be concealed and we contribute to the erasure of women, and the way we choose to represent femininity. I would not have posted my pole dancing videos if I felt like there was something wrong with them.
A lot of the women and people in general that are commenting on my situation are questioning why I posted my pole dancing on social media. I have an art that I want to share with the world. I don’t want to feel like I have to put it in a box because of what everyone will think of it. I’m proud of what I do. Like, I put in 8 months into learning the eagle for someone to tell me I should hide it. What’s the point of having something so beautiful that you’re so proud of and not being able to share it.
What do you wish the world knew about pole and pole dancers?
I wish the world knew that pole is an extremely challenging sport. I would wager that it is probably harder than many sports out there. It’s underrated but it’s beautiful. If people would put aside their preconceived notions on it, then they would be able to see what we get out of it and why we love it. Why we risk our identities, careers, and livelihoods to be able to do it. It brings us so much peace and joy. It's one of the very few sports that lets you own all of who you are. There are no set rules. You can just do whatever. It's your chance to say what you want to say how you want to say it.
What are your next steps?
I have no clue. I really don’t know. I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster with no seatbelt. I can’t even put it into words. (squeals) Oh my God! That’s how I feel (laughs). That sound is how I feel. I just don’t know what to do. I’m just trying. This could be a stretch, but if out of all of this I was able to find an investor who could help me to open my own pole studio, that would be amazing. I would love to be able to have my own studio and teach other women.I would love to start a pole apparel clothing line. I don’t know. Maybe this is all a huge sign from the universe that I need to start using my artistic side more.
Complete the statement, I Pole Because…
It’s my truth. It lets me be myself, no matter what form that takes. And it NEVER judges me.