Yoga: The only perfect body is the one you’ve been given. Love it. Stuff the thigh gap.
So I hear the lastest craze at the moment for teenage girls is to destroy themselves by starving until they achieve the ultimate – thigh gap. Yet again, the media is responsible for pushing the unhealthy image of the ‘ideal woman’ who has a body shape that can only be attained by sheer luck of the draw – being born with a bone structure that enables women to exhibit a gap between their thighs when they stand with their feet together.
What I’ve never understood is why girls want this body shape when men clearly aren’t attracted to it? What is it that motivates girls to want to look this way and how did we end up in a society where it’s ok to put models displaying such unhealthy looks in such an influential position? The strange thing is that teenage girls appear to buck the trend. The Guardian recently reported that a study conducted at Cambridge showed that: “the vast majority of women significantly increase purchase intentions when they see a model that reflects their age, size and race.” So, will an increase in magazine sales finally change the minds of designers and editors who still only dress the super skinny? Yet these girls clearly have an issue with identity as they idolize women who reflect neither their age, size or race. So what’s going wrong?
Somewhere along the line, these girls have failed to make a connection. Their image is so warped that they are trying to identify with women who bear no resemblance whatsoever to them and most probably, nothing like their family. What they need desperately is to be spending time with women their own age and older, who are happy and accepting of their bodies; stretch marks or no stretch marks, blemishes or no blemishes.
These girls are missing a trick. What is sexy is being healthy and comfortable with whatever shape your body is. It’s a fine line to tread between letting yourself go and not caring about your body and going to the other extreme. Yoga helps us learn to tread that line, encouraging us to live a lifestyle that enables us to practice and when the emphasis is right (mindfulness, focus, acceptance, kindness and compassion to ourselves), helps us learn to find acceptance.
We need a revolution. We need women to group together and take these young girls under their wing. We need them to spend real time with them in physical activities where differences will be supported and nurtured. In Scandinavia and Iceland, whole families go to the pool together. They shower and change with each other from a very young age and it’s something that happens every week and sometimes every day. We need to encourage teens to come to yoga classes where they’ll mix with women of all shapes and ability and we need to put real sex sirens back on the map.
So this is a call to all the mums and grandmums out there, to get your teenagers joining you on your yoga mat. I’m now off to eat another slice of pizza. (Life is about balance).