Kimmi says she is proud of her curves – despite initially fearing she would be the “fat one” in the class.
A size 24 pole dancer who starved herself for days at a time in a desperate bid to be thin has finally embraced her curves – hitting back at online trolls who’ve dubbed her a “pig.”
When Kimmi Leahy first took up the sport after the birth of her first child Erebys, the 20 stone mum-of-two was terrified she would be the “fat one” in the class.
But now, practising her moves four times a week and even buying a pole for her home in North Gosford, Central Coast, Australia, the 32-year-old has learned to love her plus-sized look, explaining: “I feel powerful and free in a way I have never done before. Any hang ups I had about my body have disappeared. Now, I strip down to my underwear without even thinking about it. I have realised all sizes can be sexy. Anyone can twerk around that pole, no matter what your size.”
Since she started dancing in 2010, Kimmi’s self-esteem has grown so much that she now even posts videos of her performing routines in skimpy underwear on social media.
Sadly, this has made her the target of cruel cyber bullies, who’ve commented that the pole “must be the strongest one in the world” and saying she looks like “a pig that has got stuck.”
But, while she’d previously have been horrified by the taunts, her beloved hobby has given her the confidence to shrug them off.
She continued: “When I first got the comments I would feel really angry, but now I don’t pay attention, it’s a waste of time.
“I just delete them. The pole is for everyone and it’s for no one to say what type of body type should be doing it.”
In her younger years, Kimmi, who is married to Shannon Leahy, 32, a full-time carer to their youngest son Caelus, four, who is disabled, admits she had an unhealthy relationship with food.
Between the ages of 15 and 24 – during which time she weighed between 10 and 17 stone – she would starve herself for days at a time, before binge eating and making herself sick.
“The doctor said I had disordered eating, abnormal eating patterns which is not classed as an eating disorder.
“I hid it from my family and only told one friend and my now husband. I just was so insecure about how I looked and was desperate to be thin,” she said.
Kimmi continued: “At school it was all about looking good, so I thought I should look a certain way with toned arms and legs and a flat stomach.
“I would fast, binge and then purge, making myself sick. In six months, my weight dropped from 17 to 10 stone – a size 12 – which was slim for me.”
Kimmi’s husband tried to encourage her to be healthy, but, it was only when 5ft 4ins Kimmi fell pregnant with Erebys, now eight, that she realised she needed to change.
“I really thought about my life and how I needed to be healthy and mentally well for my kids,” she said.
“Pole dancing was always something I wanted to do but never thought I looked the part.
“It was only when my little one was six months old that my husband said I should have a go.”
After finding a local pole dancing class, Kimmi signed up for a session – which Shannon had to walk her in to, as she was so terrified.
She added: “I was scared I was going to be the fat one and everyone was going to look at me.”
However, after just one class, Kimmi felt amazing, saying it was the most fun she had ever had doing sport.
Immediately hooked, she signed up for more sessions there and then.
Initially, she would attend wearing long shorts and two t-shirts, to cover herself up.
But over time, her confidence grew – and her outfits shrunk.
“Gradually, I felt better about wearing skimpier clothes and now think nothing of stripping down to my underwear,” she said.
After months of attending weekly sessions, Kimmi eventually bought a pole to practice on at home.
Now, she dances up to four times a week and her husband and family are her biggest fans.
“Erebys has even signed up for pole classes for children because he sees how much fun I have whilst I am doing it,” she said.
She has also undergone counselling to help her manage the unhealthy eating habits she’d previously struggled with.
She said: “I can’t actually believe how I used to feel about myself before, thinking I was fat and shouldn’t be showing off my body. I want to show that plus size pole dancing can be done and anyone who is bigger and wants to give it a go should go for it. It makes you feel amazing, empowered and so confident.”
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