Body Image

A few weeks ago as I was going through a stash of old VCR tapes I found in my basement, I ran across a talk show I had recorded in 2002. One of the segments was a satellite interview with Jamie Lee Curtis. If you don’t remember her, she appeared in the movies Freaky Friday, Perfect, A Fish Called Wanda, and the Halloween horror series.

At the time of the interview, Ms. Curtis was 43 and had just finished a children’s book about self-esteem. She decided she wanted to address self-esteem in adult women as well, so she called More magazine and proposed a story and photo shoot about body image.

We all know people who appear on the covers of magazines have the aid of make-up, lighting, camera angles, and airbrushing, but rarely do we know how much help they have. Ms Curtis decided to show the world how she truly looked in comparison with her glamorous image.

In the magazine there were two pictures of Jamie Lee Curtis. In the first she was wearing brief shorts and a sports bra with no make-up or jewelry. In the second picture she was wearing a stunning black dress and heels, full make-up and professionally styled hair. It took thirteen people three hours to put her together for the second shot.

In the first picture she looks good, but she looks 43 with the stomach, hips and thighs of a normal woman her age. In the second picture she looks like a movie star, unnaturally young, poised, and perfect.

The pictures show how much the entertainment industry can enhance the human body and the falseness of most media pictures. The accompanying article underscores how ludicrous it is to hold ourselves up to these perfect images. We will fall short unless we have a team of people and hours to spend creating that glamorous look.

Hatha Yoga, the physical form of yoga, is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. With its growth, there is concern that yoga is feeding into our society’s fixation on the body. This focus on the body can range from looking good in cute yoga clothes to being able to do cool yoga poses.

Though Hatha Yoga can have an effect on appearance over time, this was not its original purpose. In some older forms of Yoga, the yogis neglected their bodies while they sat and meditated for days, weeks, months, and even years. Hatha Yoga was a shift in philosophy where the body became important because a healthy body enabled the yogi to handle the rigors of spiritual practice. This is a far cry from cute clothes and cool poses.

In all forms of Yoga we are seen as more than just our bodies. This is understandable because no matter what happens to us physically, whether we get a cold, sprain an ankle, or just get older, changes to our bodies do not alter who we really are inside.

Though Hatha Yoga brings our focus to our bodies, it can be used as a method of exploration. We can see how we physically change over time and realize that no matter what is happening to us physically, there is more to us than just our appearance.

The More magazine article: