Home This Time, It's Personal Beauty is in the Eye of the Beerholder

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beerholder

I am 28 years old. I am 5’4″. I weigh 155, about—I actually have not weighed myself for years, but I have worn the same dress size since I was fourteen years old. I figure as long as my clothes fit, there is no need to keep track of my actual weight. I ride my bike everywhere I go. I am energetic and I rarely feel like my body holds me back. I eat what I want and most of what I want is healthy. However, I do think life is too short to not eat a goddamn piece of cheesecake if I want it.

I hate validating myself in this way, but I feel I need to tell you these details because apparently I’m “fat.” And definitely too “fat” to be a stripper.

Having gotten my start stripping at the Lusty Lady in San Francisco, I moved to Portland for a totally separate job. Eventually, I started working at a couple of places on the outskirts of town. I hadn’t even worn heels for over a year, so I figured I would keep a low profile while I got my strength back. As I gained confidence, I contacted a booking agent. She had me do an audition shift at a club where she was short a girl that day. When she stopped by to see me dance, she told me I was too heavy to work in one of the clubs she booked for, but there didn’t seem to be any complaints at the one I auditioned at, so she would schedule me there. I worked there for six weeks. I made pretty good money (even though I was only given day shifts) and I got along with everyone. The clientele was right up my alley: middle-aged white guys. They dig my style, the music I dance to, and my body (especially the fact that I don’t shave all my pubes off!) and I was happy.

Then one week I just wasn’t on the schedule. Then the next week I wasn’t on the schedule. So I called to ask why I had basically been fired. Apparently, a “customer complained” about how I looked. I have my doubts about if that’s true, but even if a customer did complain, would they have taken a skinny girl off the schedule?

I auditioned at a couple other places. I tried to be selective about where I went, only auditioning at clubs likely to have more my type of clientele. One place said, “You’re bit heavier than the boss usually likes, but you are a great dancer, so I will try to get you to do a few fill-in shifts.” Nothing came of it though. Others clubs just didn’t get back to me.

Finally, I found one place I liked it a lot, and despite never being given a night shift, made decent money. Everyone who worked there was nice and we had some great daytime regulars. When I did manage to pick up a night shift, I had a great time. The nighttime clientele  seemed to have no problem with me, but according to the owners, “I just [didn’t] seem like a night girl.”

I put “fat” in quotations earlier because it’s up to the individual to define their body how they want. I do not self-define as fat, but it isn’t a negative thing to do. It would be pretty unfair to my awesome, proud, fat-identifying friends to try to compare myself to them. I do not have nearly the same prejudices and hate thrown at me as they do on a daily basis. While I may deal with problems related to my body type and the industry I work in, I still enjoy plenty of thin privilege in my day-to-day life. In the sex industry there is at least some different body representation. Sadly though, larger bodies are usually fetishized as something pitiful and grotesque, or just a joke. Thin bodies are standard, and people’s actual desires are left by the wayside in a puddle of insecurities and shame.

I choose to put myself in this world, so you could say that being “not thin”—chubby, curvy, buxom, whatever—I am really setting myself up to be judged. That may hold some truth, but: who is telling whom what they should want and why they should want it? The answer is not as simple as “thin bodies are attractive and fat bodies are not.” We have all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But when the beholder has been shamed for his/her desires because they do not fit within the perceived norm, what is left of the beholder? This isn’t only a problem in Portland. I find it especially funny there because Portland advertises and defines itself as having an “alternative” strip scene. It’s not really alternative at all. It’s all pretty much just Barbie dolls plus tattoos: white, thin, able-bodied and under 40.

I get compliments on my shape all the time: “It’s a relief to see someone like you on stage,” “You are so beautiful and sexy. You remind me of Marilyn Monroe,” “Your face is beautiful, “Your pussy is beautiful, “I love the way you move,” “You look like a classic painting,” are just a few that come to mind. I may have a little tummy, or extra junk in my trunk, but women need about 20% body fat to have regular periods. Women are supposed to be a bit fat. It is not unhealthy and it’s not unsexy. My figure is classic. I feel it expresses womanliness and femininity to the very core.

Last I checked, when you run a business, being able to suit your customers’ needs is what’s important. Variety is key. And thin is not the magical equation for “good stripper.” How about showing up on time, or showing up at all for that matter? Having stage presence? Being kind, courteous and entertaining for customers? My experience with sex work is that it usually hinges much more on personality than body. Anyone can get a pair of fake tits and lipo, but we are talking about a customer service industry. If you aren’t good at making your customers feel welcome, wanted, and special then you won’t get anywhere.

Men find women sexy for all sorts of reasons. Or to be more inclusive, people find people sexy for all sorts of reasons. I like to entertain people by taking my clothes of for a living.  I like to entice, enchant and tease them with my naked body. I enjoy my job and I think I am good at what I do. The public seems to enjoy watching me perform. While some might find me more desirable than others, most at least enjoy my performances and are entertained.

I contract space from a person who runs a bar in order to do my job. I am not employed by that person, but this person is still allowed to tell me what I am allowed to look like and when I am allowed to work. Sadly, the decisions this person makes about where or when I am allowed to work are not based on my performance in the work place, but merely how many inches around I am. If you are someone who would like to see more diversity on the stage then please speak up about your desires.

Poppy Cox is a performance artist and sex worker of many denominations. She is a sex-positive feminist and bike-sexual slut. When she is not selling her body, she spends most of her time working on her international touring Bike Smut FIlm Festival, an annual collection of short erotic bicycle films made by cyclists, queers, and perverts from all over.


  1. OMG! HI POPPY!!!!!! It’s me, Wendy, from last year!!!!!! Remember?!?!?! Your roommate stopped talking to me after he had an embarrassing sexual experience!

    YOU ARE SOOO BEAUTIFUL!!!! I thought you looked like a beautiful pinup or painting from the moment you walked into work, and I thought, “Oh no, I’m not going to make money now, she’s so pretty” and I am a stripper who fits the mainstream beauty standards even though I don’t shave my pussy either.

    This blog is awesome, isn’t it? Have you written on it before? I discovered it a few months ago. Anyway, fuck those places. I’ll bet Union Jacks and Rose City was one of them. FUCK EM. Go to a different town maybe, I’m never going back to Portland.

    <3 Hang in there, you are extremely beautiful, smart and charming!!!!!

    • Wendy! So nice to hear from you! Sorry about my room mate. He is pretty intensely awkward about almost everything, especially girls. And thanks for all the lovely compliments. You are so sweet and rad. I wish we could of worked together more.
      I am actually posted up in Oakland, CA now. Hope to be back in Portland sometime soon, but seeing what the bay area has to offer this time round. Not sure where you are, but wanna email me with your deets, I would love to run into you sometime!! miss poppy cox (at) gmail dot com


  2. I feel you! Man, do I feel you! I am a fat femme escort and I can’t even tell you how crazy it makes me when guys write positive reviews of plus-sized escorts they’ve seen only to be shamed and made fun of by other guys in the comments. I just don’t get the comments, truthfully. There will be always be a comment like, “If you want to fuck a fat girl, there’s plenty on POF who will fuck you for free.” And it’s like, dude chose to pay this woman and had a wonderful time, so why the fuck do you give a shit? No one is going on thin-escort review threads and making similar comments. There will never be a guy on a thin girls thread going, ” Eh, to each their own, but skinny just doesn’t do it for me.” Drives me batty.

    • As a over the avg cam girl- I get the same feedback. I get more private show requests, and the $ semi rolls in- but the actual chat room is full of fat shaming.

  3. Whoa, those club owners don’t know which side their bread’s buttered on! In my experience curvier women (of whom I was/am one) typically do rather nicely in the sex industry. Men like ’em/us, actually, despite all the anti-‘fat’ propaganda. Hope you manage to find a good place to work.

  4. Love this post, and I agree wholeheartedly that above all else the sex industry is about service and personality. Yes, there are men who come to the clubs and are only looking for a body – any body – but really when it comes down to it those are not the customers you see long term.
    I work at a club in the Midwest, and I would say we are a bit luckier as far as a variety of body types being hired on. Some of that is because we have fewer dancers knocking at the door to be hired, and also because many of the girls who fit into the “ideal” body type are flaky, drugged up, get pass-out drunk on the job, don’t have a clue how to talk to customers, etc etc.
    You’ll hear customers make rude comments from time to time about the “quality” of girls, but again those are the customers who are not really spending money, not really getting to know the girls, not potential long-term customers. They will be there for a night and you’ll never see them again, and I usually don’t invest any time in talking to them.
    Our owner doesn’t pay any attention to complaints about body type with exception to a few girls who have come in and been outright obese. He’s slow to fire a girl and quick to work with them on any issues that might come up with work.
    I’ve told more than a few guys where they can put their small dicks when they make rude remarks about girls I work with. Sure, this *could* hurt my earnings, but I work with these girls day in and day out, we are all in this together and in my eyes each and every one of them is beautiful in their own way.
    The one thing I do not defend however are girls who are bitchy without cause, drunk or high. *shrug*

    And, let me say I think you are beautiful! 🙂


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