In the new Netflix original documentary Strip Down, Rise Up, a group of women use the art of pole dancing to heal their personal traumas and issues with their bodies through sensual movement and by reclaiming their femininity.
One of the women featured in the documentary is Evelyn Oshita, a 50-year-old Latina widower and candy shop manager, who decided to take pole dancing classes to help give her life meaning again after the death of her husband, Terry.
“I need to allow myself to be happy,” Oshita says in the film.
Oshita, a resident of Fontana, California, joined S Factor, a chain of exercise studios created by actress Sheila Kelley (TV’s The Good Doctor). The six-month program was developed to offer women like Oshita a way to transform their lives by building self-confidence, redefining beauty and, as Kelley explains, “help bring women back into their wholeness.”
“My goal is to climb the pole,” Oshita says. “I want to embrace being intimate again. I let a lot go, and I want it back.”
During the film, viewers watch Oshita on her journey as she reconnects with her body and confront issues that stunted her confidence in the past. For example, she shares with viewers that when she was a little girl, her father used to call her “hot dog” as a nickname. “That one little thing just crushed me,” she says.
As a plus-sized woman, Oshita says her life has always been filled with judgement about who she is as a person. But through pole dancing, she can be whoever she wants.
“In [the dance studio], I don’t feel different,” she says. “The door closes, the music turns on and I feel we’re the same. I want to carry [that feeling], so it leaves with me.”