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Stripping Down: A Memoir Paperback – February 9, 2012
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"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
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
Top customer reviews
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Hageman starts by telling her story, leaving nothing out. It reads like a typical memoir. But by the end you get the impression you've sat in on her therapy sessions. I believe writing Stripping Down was a cathartic experience for the author.
I learned a lot about myself while reading this book. While my story is not the author's, I can draw many parallels, and it forced me into introspection more than once.
Reading this book gives one an inside look at the strip club industry, but also gives you a good idea why it's so hard to be a girl/young woman/adult woman. I'd encourage guys with an open mind to give this book a read to get a better idea of how women think, and how what guys say impact girls.
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? And how do I face aging and its effect on my worth? I'm not a mother, but I'm sure mothers can relate to her exhaustion, exasperation, and insecurity about parenting.
If you decide to take this journey with Sheila, be warned that it is not a pleasant ride. It is absolutely heart wrenching to go through the impending death of her mother from cancer and other deaths in the family. You cringe with each small triumph she has learning how to strip, and you cringe more as she pushes herself further into soft porn because she needs the money. And on top of all of her problems, her personal and family relationships don't help her much. She is alone, utterly alone. Just when you think she can't go on any more, she draws herself up and somehow soldiers on. I personally know Sheila (we're related through a marriage) so I experienced some of her family sorrow, but it was an absolute crushing revelation to read about how much internal personal pain she kept to herself. I am shocked by how brutally honest she could share herself with the reader. Her strength is admirable.
At the end of the story, you do get a happy ending - a brief pause where she accepts her past, accepts all of the decisions that led to her current place in life, accepts herself with all of her faults. But the whirlwind of her life was heavy, weighs down on you, and lingers long after you finish the book. I found myself contemplating a lot of her questions with a heavy and sometimes angry heart. I wanted a lighter ending. But perhaps that is her point - the struggles, stereotypes, and "traditional" roles defined for women haven't changed much and she has no fear talking about them and welcomes further discussion. She challenges all of us to peel back our own layers. If you're unwilling, you can certainly enjoy the experience of the author's exposure. It's worth the trip and you'll learn about yourself in the process. I was very affected by her book, and I think most people will be, too.
In my humble opinion, one of the most refreshing things about this book was the gifted writing style of the author; she could move the reader through one scene in the early 1990's and into the next scene in 2002 without leaving the reader addled. Her style moved seamlessly across different story lines and different years and different phases of life, but it always moved easily. As a reader, I was never confused when a scene changed. What a rare treat!