Annals of Catastrophic Posture, Fashion Edition

Fashion photography always exaggerates. That’s why the pages of fashion magazines are filled with models in catastrophic posture, like the one above, from a 2018 Elle magazine.

When I chanced upon it, I was in my ophthalmologist’s waiting room, and I swear it made my eyes hurt.

I have a pretty good idea what she looks like when she sits down, but how does she walk?

Oddly enough, before the 1920’s, when pelvis forward posture became the rage, fashion exaggeration went in a different direction. The poses are more formal, and the tiny waists look painful. But corsets aside, one thing stands out: the models have their pelvis in the line of gravity, and their backs rise in a straight line.

Why does it matter what we see in fashion magazines?

It matters because posture is cultural – although as my teacher Jean Couch likes to say, “Posture may be cultural, but the suffering is individual.”

In a process called postural mirroring, we unconsciously take on the posture of the people around us. Most often we think of it in terms of conversation. If, for example, you want to show friendliness and agreement with someone you’re talking to, you’ll unconsciously mimic their hand gestures and way of sitting. But postural mirroring goes much deeper: it’s the reason we grow up with our parents’ posture.

Our current fashion photos teach that beauty resides in an enervated body with an extreme backwards tilt. That convention has been around for so long, and is so faithfully followed, that for the most part, we don’t even see it.

Would you like to have the scales removed from your eyes? 

My online Spinefulness Foundations course opens on January 15, 2021. In the first hour, you’ll learn to see what healthy posture really looks like. And in the three classes that follow, you’ll learn how to feel the lightness, elegance and grace of healthy posture as you sit, stand, bend and walk. Learn more by clicking here: