03/01/2012 17:19 GMT | Updated 04/03/2012 05:12 GMT

Job Choice: The Dilemma about Being a Stripper

The Huffington Post UK's Lucy Sherriff asks how far someone might go to find a job in 'Student Jobs Over Christmas: From Hamley's Elf To Stripper'. She spoke to two university students who took very different jobs over the holidays - one paying minimum wage as an elf and one paying lots of cold, hard cash for dancing in her skivvies.

Hannah, the 19-year-old student from Sheffield University, who started stripping, is pulling down £400-£500 a night.

Think about it: in these uncertain economic times, there are lots of people looking for career opportunities in unusual places. Young women may be curious about stripping, even though they may never have imagined themselves taking their clothes off for cash before.

The concern comes when stripping is something that a woman really doesn't feel comfortable with, as Hannah expressed.

"I would hate for anyone to find out as I am quite ashamed - and it would ruin any chance of having a respectable career in the future. But I just can't afford to turn down that much money."

Before strapping on stilettos and pole dancing, women need to consider their true feelings about stripping. When I was 18, I faced the same dilemma and ended up choosing stripping in New York City in places like Scores and Flashdancers over selling shoes. And while I did make some good cash, I had mixed feelings about what I was doing too.

Looking back on why I became a stripper (and stayed one for quite a few years), I think I got lost in the fantasy world of receiving admiration and attention for just being sexy. I created a character, Kyrie, to fulfill men's fantasies of me. Over time, it became more important that I please others instead of myself. A split was created between who I really was and who I thought I needed to be in order to be loved and admired.

So much for it being just about the money.

A lot of women get stuck in the strip world for longer than they planned by falling prey to that allure of playing an easy-made role, but the conflict happens when we feel the need to split our "sexy" self from our everyday image. Then, boom! We get stuck in the middle of two ideologies: one tells us to be good little girls and play an elf for minimum wage while the other begs us to be wild and wicked and roll in the easy dough.

Well, there's no such thing as easy dough.

Let's face it - becoming a stripper is not like becoming a temporary elf. Stripping is a job that impacts a woman's life on many levels. There is no way to become a stripper without coming face-to-face with some serious issues and requirements.

Don't get me wrong - I've seen happy exotic dancers who I believe really enjoyed the job. But for every at-peace-with-being-a-stripper woman, there are a dozen who suffer every day that they strap on their stilettos. And even worse, many continue to suffer the repercussions years after they leave the business.

I believe in freedom of choice for everyone and that there are some women who will never regret their decision to be a stripper. But why go into something without examining the facts? If a woman is considering stripping, she should learn what to expect and be as prepared as possible.

But as for Hannah's comment about stripping ruining any chance for a good career, I'd have to say the times have (hopefully) moved beyond that. I left stripping and went on to become valedictorian of my college class, got my Master's and the opportunity to do all the things I was meant to do - write, teach, raise a family. But there were many difficult years of dealing with my past choices.

As I believe it is for most women, there are no easy answers of what to do when faced with playing an elf or stripping, but for the most part, the truth is usually speaking to us loud and clear, if only we are willing to listen.