By Jasmine Kazlauskas
A schoolgirl who is an award-winning pole dancer has hit back at bullies who called her a ‘STRIPPER’ – and now wants to break down negative stereotypes surrounding the sport.
Stunning teenager Elise Fawcett first started pole dancing when she was 10-years-old and said she quickly fell in love with the sport because of the way it made her feel.
The now 14-year-old high school student has come a long way since her first lesson, with Elise winning awards for her skills and she now even teaches pole dancing classes at a local studio, Polesisters in Bolton.
But the talented young star from Bradford, West Yorkshire, said she has faced backlash from bullies who have called her a ‘stripper’ because of her pole dancing – and now Elise wants to break down misconceptions surrounding the sport.
She said: “I instantly fell in love with pole dancing from the first moment I tried it out and haven’t looked back.
“I loved how hands on it was and how it made me feel so fit and strong. It is also loads of fun.
There is definitely a big misunderstanding about pole dancing for fitness.
“I’ve had negative comments, and people have called me a stripper and things like that. But I’ve never let it get to me because I love what I do.
“It never bothers me because it’s my life and I’m so passionate about it. I just ignore them and don’t think of it.
“I understand where they’re coming from, because from an outside perspective there is an association with pole dancing and stripping.
“But once people give it a go and understand it more, they see that it’s really similar to gymnastics, and the pole is just an apparatus.
“I see it as pole fitness not pole dancing as it’s classed as a sport.
“I have been told what I wear is revealing. But the reason I wear minimal clothing is because I need as many contact points to the pole as I can.
“You’d never be able to do it covered head to toe in clothing. You would slip off.”
The teen has won eight awards after competing in pole dancing competitions around the UK and said she believes that the sport will soon be recognised in the Olympics.
Elise added that she hopes to one day own her very own pole dancing studio so that she can pass on her skills and knowledge of the sport to others who are eager to try it out.
She said: “Pole dancing is growing massively, and I do think one day it will be in the Olympics.
“The thing I love most about pole is how it builds up your strength and fitness. It has built up my self-confidence so much.
“I used to be so shy before I started this, but now I feel more confident and self-aware.
“It is massively empowering for women. I’m so strong now and I’ve made so much progress.
“I love teaching pole dancing. The ages range from kids to women in their sixties.
“My dream is to own my own pole dancing studio eventually, that would be amazing.”
Her mum Sinead, 39, has supported her daughter from day one and said she could not be prouder of how far she has come with pole dancing.
And although she too has faced some harsh backlash from adults who she said have judged her for letting Elise do pole dancing, Sinead said she has never let it get to her and will continue to support her daughter’s dreams.
The business owner said: “When she started pole dancing, there were very few children that did it. She was in a mix-aged class with people from all walks of life and it’s made her far more mature and open-minded.
“When Elise first started doing it at 10, I always felt the need to explain it to people even when they didn’t ask me to.
“I used to feel judged. I think more than anyone saying something straight to my face about Elise’s pole dancing, I’ve had them roll their eyes and raise eyebrows about it.
“I’d be lying if I said I found it easy to deal with people judging but I don’t let it get to me and I don’t try and justify what Elise does anymore.
“I try not to get too annoyed, as I can understand. If someone’s only idea of pole dancing is from movies or television where a girl is dancing on a pole and earning money in a club, that’s all they’ve known.
“People have commented online about the leotards and costumes that she wears, but I just ignore them. With any sport, you have to wear the best uniform to do a good job.
“I’m sure she’d much rather do pole in a onesie. The pole is an apparatus for Elise to do her sport on – that’s it.”
Proud mum Sinead is now helping her daughter break down negative stereotypes about pole dancing and added that she would recommend it to anyone wanting to try a new sport.
She said: “I love what pole dancing has done for Elise. It has boosted her self-confidence, motivation and fitness so much.
“At the end of the day, Elise isn’t stuck in her bedroom, she isn’t wandering the streets getting into trouble.
“I know where she is and I know what she’s doing, there are far worse things that your teenager could be up to.
“I’d recommend pole dancing to anyone thinking of giving it go.
“Elise feels strong, healthy, motivated and passionate about it. Her confidence and self-love has soared, which is all you could want for your child.
“As a parent of a teenage girl, it’s lovely to have a daughter that feels good about herself.”