Sometimes my students bring me photos and news stories to discuss. The above snap was part of a Marc Jacobs ad in the Sunday Times. We couldn’t quite believe that post #MeToo this sort of Dickensian image was being used to sell clothes. What does this say about power relationships? What happens to our unconscious when the mere turn of a newspaper page primes us to equate cowering with something as desirable as high fashion?
Sure the slouch has been used since at least the 1900’s to portray hip nonchalance. I don’t have any negative judgement about relaxed posture. I encourage my students to employ the full range of physical gestures – the key is to have choice. We need not be ram rod straight at all times. There’s no moral benefit, and modern pain science shows there’s no equivalency between “good posture,” and a pain free body. “Good posture” is in quotes because there’s no agreed upon criteria for what this means, although certainly as an Alexander Technique teacher I have my views about more beneficial ways we can counterbalance our bones, and how we can learn from studying child development and the movement habits of people in non-industrial cultures. As it turns out, the geometry for ease is less about the angle of the spine and more about calibrating threat level, accuracy in body maps, and kinesthetic skill, but I digress. Regardless of whether you are poising with a long spine or lounging like a cool cat, this Marc Jacobs ad suggests a life that lacks free will and conscious choice..
To counter the depressing ad, my student also brought me this image of actress Regina Hall also cut from the Sunday Times. We admired her dancer’s line, her pointed toes and her abandon. We exhaled.
Being an Alexander Student means learning about your habits of movement, your self-image and how self-image impacts the way you move. It becomes impossible not to notice what culture is saying about bodies. Remember you have a choice .