It’s hard being a woman these days. Maybe it has always been hard, but it seems to me that things are getting a lot more difficult. Despite many of the advances made by the feminist movement and by a better educated collective group of women, the pressure to look a certain way is stronger than ever. Thanks to photo shop, cosmetic surgery, injections and weight loss diets, women feel an even greater need to look –well- – perfect. Having a destructive body image with an ever growing desire to look better and thinner is a side effect of this pressure. Some women have the confidence to ignore the images while others become victims of it. Which one are you?
Everyone knows that sex sells and using beautiful women to sell a product or service has been around forever. That may never change. Yet how do we deal with the negative feelings that occur because of this high bar and because so many women cannot possibly look that good? Recently I posted the following on Facebook “You will never look like the girl in the magazine. The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine”!! Is it possible to keep this in mind?
A friend of mine who is also a Pilates teacher once told me that she suffered for many years with a body image problem. “Everyone told me I was ugly and that if I didn’t do something about it I’d never have a boyfriend or get married” she confided in me. “Yet when I discovered Pilates and then became a teacher,” she continued, “I felt so good about my body that I completely forgot about what people used to say. “I found her words to be very informative on many levels. First of all, how did Pilates help her come to terms with these issues and how can I help others to overcome similar issues?
Women have to ask themselves questions regarding the pressure to look a certain way. Should they buy into all the hype of using the right skin cream or shampoo? Should they spend several month’s income on plastic surgery? Or, should they look to Pilates as one way to improve on their body image? My vote is for Pilates.
Pilates is so much more than a series of exercises that gives one a bikini ready body or flat abs. It can do that too, but the benefits of Pilates go much deeper than 6-pack abs. Pilates is what we call ‘intelligent’ exercise in that it is not fast moving, sloppy out of control movement. Yes, it can be fast moving but always with control. I always tell my clients ‘you’ are in control of the exercise the exercise is not in control of you. Pilates is helping you to create a conscious awareness of your body. Body & mind unite. This is empowerment!
It takes a little while to understand the method, but once you do it changes everything. What you learn in your Pilates class you take with you to your day to day life. Not only does one feel more energized after a Pilates class, but with a consistent practice posture improves, gait is more graceful, nagging back pain disappears and the body just feels so good that it’s impossible to not like yourself. Pilates changes everything for the better.
The ads, the pressure, the endless beauty products may never go away. Yet if women can learn to embrace their beauty by learning to move better and to feel better, we can finally say we’ve made progress in this constant battle. Now that’s truly beautiful.
We have a choice: Let the endless media pressure to look a certain way affect us or, find a method like Pilates to not only make us look better, but to also give us the confidence to ignore all the noise. What would you choose?
This article was a joint effort between Devra Swiger of Ab~Solutely Pilates and myself as we both feel passionately about this topic.