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Stripping Down: A Memoir Paperback – February 9, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Paperback, February 9, 2012
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Editorial Reviews


"This is not another stripper memoir. It's a powerful meditation on the body, on family, and ultimately on self-love." -- Kerry Cohen, Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity
"A necessary and important book." --Louise DeSalvo, Writing as a Way of Healing

About the Author

Sheila Hageman is a multi-tasking wife and mother of three. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter College, CUNY. She teaches Yoga and Writing. Her memoir, "Stripping Down," will be published by Pink Fish Press February 2012. She has poems in the anthologies: Uphook Press, Gape Seed: A Poetry Anthology and Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House, In the Company of Women: Poetic Musings of Wit and Wisdom, and Fat Daddy's Farm Press, Joy Interrupted: An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss. Sheila's work has also been featured in Salon, Conversely, The Fertile Source, ken*again, Prime Mincer, Foliate Oak Literary Journal, Jet Fuel Review, Ginger Piglet Press, Xenith Magazine, Girls Can't What, and Mommy Poppins. Visit Sheila's website at SheilaHageman.com

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Pink Fish Press (February 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615584977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615584973
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,673,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book in 2-1/2 hours, and could not stop once I started. In a series of flashbacks between her exotic dancing past and a life of taking care of a sick mother and a growing family, we read of Hageman's evolution in thinking about sex, love, and her own struggles with body image. As a pubescent girl, Hageman discovered the strange power that adult females might be able to exert over men, just by presenting their bodies in a certain manner. Her memoir explores this discovery over the course of at least six years as she drifted in and out of exotic dancing. One feels sorry for young Hageman as she tries to find love in all the wrong places, the most deplorable being on a Florida beach one early morning at the age of 19.

The most frustrating thing about the memoir is Hageman's revelation that although people loved her, she did not feel worthy of love, and undermined a few promising relationships due to that feeling of unworth. This led to exciting sexual escapades, such as stripping in clubs, casual sex, a threesome, and a bi-curious fling. Alas, it was part of a terrible cycle of trying new sex adventures in hopes of finding love, not getting it, and feeling unworthy. My question is how can one have so much sex and always feel bad about it? Was it fun, just once?

Writing therapy is expressive writing used to help lessen chronic stress induced by past trauma. This may be one reason Hageman chose to open her closet of shocking skeletons to the world. She is now a college writing instructor, after all, and what better subject to write about than one's own history? Hageman seems to be unremarkably bourgeois these days, married with kids in the affluent suburbs. Would she have reached this happy point without spending years looking for affection or affirmation in strip clubs? It is a life mystery we shall never unlock.
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By KAG on March 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sheila is brave for dissecting her insecurities, brave for admitting there were things she liked about stripping-the attention, the power. Brave for revealing the effect that all of that can have on a young woman. She's brave for telling all. In dealing with her mother's passing, her bouts with depression, her early promiscuity, her attempts at marriage and now her new role as a devoted and loving partner and mother, she takes ownership over her past. Through her writing and her yoga practice she accepts her actions as they are part of her, allowing her to get closer to fully living in the present.

She writes in an honest way that is is more courageous than vulnerable, more introspective than preachy. We are all a work in progress. I admire that Sheila has taken such a bold, cathartic step in her own personal progression. This I can learn from her. I could not put the book down even as there were tears interfering with my reading.
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Format: Paperback
Ms. Hageman takes a rare and honest look at actual feelings, we have all probably thought but perhaps not admitted, about our history and our bodies. I was drawn to keep reading. It is so worthwhile examining how our pasts infiltrate our wonderful selves, stirring sexual feelings that have somehow become blurred through the many years. Bravo!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is intense and addictive! You get on the crazy roller coaster ride that is the author's life, and you will pout like a 5 year old when you have to stop reading, and at other times, you will want to get off and cry. Sheila Hageman bravely lets you into her exciting and juicy but also shame-filled struggle to follow her dream of acting, with an almost "by any means necessary" energy and/or stubbornness. Acting never quite takes off, and she finds herself in dirty bars taking off her clothes, a laughable mixture of sexy yet also unglamorous. Her determination and desperation are unstoppable. Along the way, you are treated to her reflective musings that show layers of deeply thoughtful and hyper-sensitive questions; questions about what she's doing, why she's doing it, how the whole ride is affecting her sense of self worth as a woman, a spouse, a mother. She bares all of her insecurities, her triumphs, her embarrassments, her broken marriages, her dysfunctional family life, her seemingly out of control struggle to "make it" as a responsible adult.

There are so many life themes that we can all relate to, such as: What do you do with your life when your dream doesn't happen how and when you want it to? How and why do you have to justify your adult actions to your parents and why do you crave parental approval? I'm close in age to Sheila and I could identify societal things that I also struggled with growing up - my own body issues, my own shyness, my own confused sense of what does it mean to be a woman when you are bombarded by inconsistent messages about what is sexy and what is the line where you cross into trashy? What is feminine power and how can I use it to my advantage? What is my worth as a woman and why is it tied to my outer beauty?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A quote atop the cover bills this as "not another stripper memoir." Not being familiar with this genre, I can only attest that Sheila's journey is extraordinary by any literary measure. There is something universal in her struggle, in her suffering. Her first two marriages serve to reaffirm Helen Rowland's lament that "when a girl marries she exchanges the attentions of many men for the inattention of one." Sheila receives more validation from her job than from her spouse, a situation to which many workaholics can relate. Her work forms a counterbalance to her family's needs, and Sheila nearly cracks under the pressure as her sense of guilt mounts. Ultimately she finds some release in the realization "that my depression is not something inescapable, but a reaction to the events of my life." Those who recite the Serenity Prayer would characterize Sheila as attaining the wisdom to distinguish between what she can change and what she cannot, and hence become aware the source of her depression is beyond her control. Yet she reaches this point not through the well-trod path of established religion, instead uncovering her latent spirituality in a language all her own.
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