Confessions of a College Stripper

We’ve all had those days when we are stressed beyond belief...you know, the days when we find out we failed an exam or that we have three papers due in the same week. And I’m sure most of us have said in these moments, with varying degrees of seriousness, “F*ck it, I’m going to drop out of school and become a stripper.”

I know I have.

And I’m here to tell you what it is really like balancing college and a career as an exotic dancer. It’s definitely a lot to handle, but at the end of the day, I still have time to get super involved on campus. I am currently double majoring with a minor, and I am involved with three clubs and a sorority. On my nights off from working at the club, I watch The Bachelor and spend hours watching Netflix as I’m sure all of you do. And yes, I’m a student at the University of Michigan.

I started dancing after being recruited by a girl in my sorority. I’ve always had a wild side and needed an outlet for it; when the opportunity came along, I decided to try out the dancer life. And so it all began: my reputation as the quiet, studious girl was now accompanied by the secret life I led.

The common stripper stereotype is that we are all strung-out, money-hungry, grimy girls with daddy issues who are going nowhere in life. While this may be true for a large majority of what I like to call “career strippers,” I have also met some really incredible girls in the club I work at. There are girls who, like me, are full-time college students with a wild side who need an outlet. There are girls who are brilliant and ambitious, but are struggling to pay rent or tuition simply because of life’s circumstances. I am writing this piece because underneath all the harsh judgments, being a stripper has been a worthwhile and even empowering experience.

A question I get a lot is “Do you make a lot of money?” Like any tip-based job (bartending, waitressing, etc.), we have good nights and bad nights. My shifts are 6 hours long and I usually earn between $300-$600 a night. The night usually starts out slow, so we get a decent amount of downtime to just sit down and hang out with the other girls. I also get asked whether I…provide “extra services” to customers. The answer is no. There is a clear divide between being an adult entertainer at the club and being a prostitute. Some strippers get caught up in the party lifestyle and end up doing drugs during their shifts or hooking up with customers outside of the club. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there’s always a right and wrong way to do things. And if you are doing the job the right way, then it can be super liberating and fun.

By far, the toughest part of the job is staying mentally strong. Many girls walk in thinking that just because they have the body for it, the job will be easy. Being a stripper actually takes a lot more work than most people think. It’s a high-stakes, competitive environment and your confidence can be shattered in an instant by some drunken customer’s off-putting comment. Because you are the one initiating conversation in the club, you learn to deal with rejection from guys that aren’t interested in you. It definitely provides the flip side to being the one doing the rejecting at parties. Plus, a lot of beginners have trouble being mentally okay with what the job entails. But that’s all it really is… a job. Yes, you are selling sex appeal, but at the end of the day, you are the one setting limits and being in control. For me, the easiest part of being a dancer is being able to channel my natural energy at work. As someone who has a flirty personality and loves to show off, this job allows me to do that while remaining grounded in my life outside the club. It is honestly super fun getting to wear dancer outfits and learning pole tricks too!

I know a lot of girls who would consider becoming a stripper “if they had the body for it.” The truth is that strippers come in all shapes and sizes because men like different body types. There are short girls, tall girls, girls with big boobs, girls with small boobs, girls with nice butts, and girls with no butts. There are girls of every race, girls with tattoos or no tattoos, girls that are stick thin, and girls with curves. No matter what your body type is, there’s a place for you. Another concern that I hear all the time is “I can’t dance.” Although being a dancer can be intimidating at first, it is something that most girls pick up quickly. It just takes practice!

The last thought I want to leave you with is empowerment. It is easy to believe that being a dancer is degrading and shows that you have no self-respect and low self-esteem. However, it takes a hell of a lot of confidence to get up on stage and dance in front of strangers. That confidence also transitions to other aspects of life, especially with public speaking or meeting new people. I find the experience of being a stripper very empowering because instead of getting catcalled on the street, you are instead taking control of your sexuality and choosing what you want to do with it. You develop the skills to deal with manipulative people and the patience needed to resolve conflict, which can always be applied to life. Regarding the mental aspect of the job again, it’s empowering because you start defining your own confidence and beauty, as opposed to letting the approval of others determine how you feel about yourself. So although being a stripper can be difficult, it has been incredibly empowering for me personally.

This is an interesting read on the subject, so definitely check it out! While my experience being a stripper has been crazy and stressful at times, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Disclaimer: This contributor is a student at the University of Michigan who has chosen to remain anonymous. This piece does not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or experiences of the Her Campus at the University of Michigan staff. Feel free to contact Her Campus UMich if you would like to learn more.

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