Parents' Guide to

Strip Down, Rise Up

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Traumatized women heal by pole dancing; language, sexuality.

Movie R 2021 112 minutes
Strip Down, Rise Up Poster Image

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This documentary is surprisingly poignant and powerful. Downtrodden, depressed women, mourning loss and injury, bloom like flowers in front of director Michele Ohayon's cameras as they strive to shed inhibitions, self hatred, body-image stereotypes, and other baggage associated with pleasing men and conforming to unforgiving social standards for physical beauty. Strip Down, Rise Up is inspiring and often moving as it portrays women who believe they are too heavy, or too outside the mainstream standards of attractiveness to be sexy. That said, the emphasis on waging a war on "the biggest obstacle…the male gaze" is overstated. Far from man-hating, one teacher emphasizes that there are good men out there and she brings some into the class to provide positive masculine support to the students, many of whom have had few good experiences with men.

Viewers should not be put off by jargon that needlessly downgrades the profundity of the experience. One teacher says she's "trying to bring women back into their wholeness," and "I teach women to move into the fullest integrity of their feminine," which is accomplished in a "circle of naked truthing." The psycho-babble goes a bit too far when a teacher chastises a crying student as engaging in a "pattern of apology" simply because she wipes away her flowing tears. Most important is the teacher's intention to help her students move forward fearlessly in life. Ultimately, the film focuses on the value of the physical movement and emotional support, not the words. The transformation that some of the women undergo from self loathing to exhilaration makes it clear that a little language-mangling shouldn't turn anyone away from the good work being done here.

Movie Details

  • On DVD or streaming: February 5, 2021
  • Director: Michele Ohayon
  • Inclusion Information: Female directors
  • Studio: Netflix
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 112 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: for language, sexual material, brief graphic nudity and some descriptions of sexual abuse
  • Last updated: February 19, 2023

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