Body Beautiful

What makes a women’s body beautiful? How do the standards of beauty affect self image, identity and shape our sense of what is possible?

Nature and biology dictate the huge variety of shapes and sizes that women have. Culture defines and imposes a particular set of standards for what female beauty is.

These standards change, depending on the era and decade that one is born into. Women may have a sense of failure or a sense of success regarding their own beauty and their own particular physique.

Knowing one’s weight is a relatively new phenomenon. Bathroom scales were invented in the 1920’s. A voluptuous and well nourished figure was popular 25,000 years ago. For the past 8 generations, women have been encouraged to become progressively smaller. The 1980’s fostered extreme thinness as an ideal, and since then the culture has been creeping back to a more nourished ideal body type for worship.

Currently diversity in body types are beginning to be embraced.

Contemporary culture, media, art, the cosmetics, fashion and plastic surgery industry play a crucial role in our perception of what we consider to be attractive. It is no longer unusual to to see an ad for underwear featuring a group of vital healthy women representing the spectrum of sizes that women encompass. This  sends a powerful message of inclusion pertaining to whatever size one is.

How do our biases about what is, versus what is not beautiful shape our opinions of and interactions with others?

As the culture sets the standards of what is beautiful, it also teaches us to evaluate how the women in our world measure up to this ideal. Our judgments may prevent us from really “seeing” the individual.

Now that the media is beginning to embrace a variety of body types as attractive, our vision and perception of beauty can shift. Perhaps this trend creates an opportunity for us to discover our own ideal of physical beauty rather than accepting the cultural norms.

When Rolfers look at a body they envision a structure which breathes fully, moves with ease and reflects the unique and wondrous being within. They gaze past the surface and visualize how the person in front of them would look minus the remnants of physical/ psychological injuries that drag them down and eke away at their self image.

Both emotional and physical stress can prematurely disable and age an otherwise healthy body. Physical manifestations of stress can be experienced as aches and pains, limited mobility, exhaustion and sometimes depression. Emotional trauma can also leave its mark on the body. Rolfers help their clients to process both the physical and emotional remnants of stress by removing the longstanding tensions and myofascial shortenings that have taken residence in the structure. Both the body and the person inside have the opportunity to change.

A beautiful body is one that is fully alive and expresses the essence of the person within.  While Rolfers are working directly with the connective tissue on a structural level they are also striving to bring out the beauty in each person they work with. Maybe it’s the industrial standard of beauty that prevents us from celebrating each person’s magnificence. Perhaps our differences are what make us truly beautiful.  2019 is the year for us to begin redefining what is a beautiful body.