What makes a women’s body beautiful? How do standards of beauty affect our self-image, identity and sense of what is possible?
Nature and biology dictate the huge variety of shapes and sizes that women have. Depending on what era and decade one is born into can engender a sense of beauty, or a feeling of failure regarding a women’s physique. Bathroom scales were not invented until the 1920’s. A voluptuous and well-nourished figure was popular 25,000 years ago. For the past 8 generations, women have been supported to become progressively smaller. The 1980’s fostered extreme thinness as an ideal, and since then the culture has been slowly creeping back to a more nourished ideal body type for worship. Finally, diversity in body types is beginning to be embraced.
Culture, media, art, the cosmetics, fashion and plastic surgery industries play a crucial role in our perception of what is considered to be attractive. It is not unusual 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 about whatever size one is.
How do our biases about beauty shape our opinions of and interactions with others?
As culture sets the standard of beauty it teaches us to evaluate how the women in our world measure up in relation to this ideal. Now that a variety of body types are being reflected back to us in the media as attractive, our vision and perception of beauty can shift. The image of a beautiful body can mean something entirely different to us. Perhaps this trend creates an opportunity for us to discover our own idea of physical beauty rather than accepting cultural norms.
When Rolfers look at a women’s body they envision the potential for that particular human. They see that person breathing fully, moving with ease and reflecting the unique and wondrous being that they are. 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. Physical stress can prematurely disable and age an otherwise healthy body. Rolfers help their clients to process the emotional remnants of stress and remove its physical manifestations, which had taken residence in their structure. Physical manifestations of stress can be experienced as aches and pains, limited mobility, exhaustion even depression.
A beautiful body is one that is fully alive and expresses the essence of the person within. While Rolfers are working on the connective tissues to create balance within the structure they also aspire to bring out the beauty in each person that they work with. Maybe the industrial standard of beauty prevents us from celebrating each person's magnificence. Perhaps it is our differences that make us truly beautiful. The time has come for us to begin redefining what is a beautiful body.
Rebekah and David Frome have been working in the healing arts for over three decades. They have helped thousands of people recover from trauma and leave pain behind. They practice in Montclair and Asbury Park, NJ. For help with tapping into your potential call us at 973.509.8464 or book an appointment online at www.fromept.com.
This article appears in the April 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings Monmouth Ocean edition. Click here to subscribe.