23 Aug Posture, Beauty and Body Image The Aesthetician’s Crucial Role
By Aaron Lloyd Ulysses Parnell, Posture Researcher, Creator of Facial Reposturing®,
A new client, Mary Jones, becomes a client at your salon for the first time. She is professional, reasonably attractive and has the usual concerns about her skin. There is just one other thing you notice about her: Mary has poor posture.
Maybe Mary is a victim of reaching puberty too soon and she has been folding her arms across her chest ever since. Perhaps, like many American women, she has an exaggerated negative image of her body which makes her feel too fat, too old, too wrinkly, and insufficient.
Her poor posture makes her look heavier than she really is. Her rounded shoulders detract from her beauty and approachability. Somehow inside, you would like to give her an action plan that will address all of her issues that darken the radiance of her essential self.
“No matter how beautiful you are, if you have bad posture it definitely detracts from your beauty”
Vera Brown, Owner/ Director Vera’s Retreat in the Glen, Los Angeles, CA
Certainly, skin care is an obvious part of the solution. That’s at the top of the list. However, how much more can you say to Mary without offending her?
With the evidence of self-esteem and body image so obvious as it is with a person’s posture, do you say something about everything you see, or do you give feedback in small doses as the professional relationship evolves? Or do you draw the line and only comment on issues that can easily relate to the skin? Do you pass the buck, hoping Mary will get the information about posture from a chiropractor, personal trainer or massage therapist?
Most aestheticians know posture is significant and an important indicator of stress level, skin condition and body image. Assuming that “body chemistry” includes references to hormones, blood and lymphatic fluids, as a healthier balance of body chemistry improves, then skin condition, posture, body image and self-esteem improve.
The purpose of this article is to explore the relationship among posture, body image and self-esteem. What we can do in a few words is tell you enough to know the basics about posture. You can take it from there, trusting your inner guide to help you lead your client to good posture and radiant vitality.
GOOD POSTURE DEFINED
Sit up straight! Don’t slouch! Put your shoulders back! Tuck that tummy in!
We know that bad posture is bad, and good posture is good. But what exactly is “good posture?”
Good posture is when your bones are doing the work of weight-bearing, so that your muscles are free to do the work of movement.
Good posture is when your bones are doing the work of weight-bearing, so that your muscles are free to do the work of movement. Some evidences of good posture include: When your shoulders hang comfortably behind your rib cage; when the top of your breast bone is mostly level with the top of your back; when your waist is level front-to-back when you stand; when your big toes go straight forward while you stand or walk.
POOR POSTURE DEFINED
Poor posture is when your body frame is deviated away from its natural balance points and intended alignment. Some evidences of bad posture include: Rounded shoulders, sagging breasts, pouching tummy, neck jowls, facial creases, disproportionately heavy thighs, bunions, knock-knees, bow-leggedness, and more.
Some evidences of poor posture include:
Rounded shoulders, sagging breasts, pouching tummy, neck jowls, facial creases, disproportionately heavy thighs, bunions, knock-knees, bow-leggedness, and more.
POSTURE AND GENETICS
The bones are engineered to transmit and support weight effectively through skeletal bones, and across the foot arches as necessary for upright balance of the entire body. The engineering of the bones occurs at the genetic level, before birth. However, the bones do not harden until after a child is 7 years of age.
Throughout childhood, children are constantly injuring themselves by running into things, falling, sleeping in odd positions…You name it. It affects movement and posture habits, which will affect the basis of posture development for the adolescent, and later, the mature adult.
Children watch their families and parents, and mimic their every motion (positive or negative). This is why certain posture habits seem to run in families. It is possible to re-learn movement and posture habits and thereby improve some posture conditions that many persons of all ages might experience.
“Sometimes giving feedback about posture can be sensitive, because most people don’t know you can change it, so it’s like giving someone negative feedback about something they can’t change… Sometimes people don’t want to do the hard work…”
Michelle Ornstein, Enessa Aromatherapy Wellness Spa, Los Angeles, CA
POSTURE & FLEXIBILITY
Under normal circumstances, the bones are actually designed to go into proper alignment, (aka “good posture”) the moment you sit or stand up. That is, provided you are flexible enough for the balancing process to happen effortlessly. Without flexibility, forcing yourself to have good posture can be painful and hopeless. It is because of the emphasis on flexibility and body awareness that programs such as the various forms of Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais® and Alexander® teachings result in good posture.
Over time, with practice, a person can realize substantial improvement in their posture as they become more and more flexible. Clearly, it is flexibility that precedes effortless good posture. It seems to be the consensus, across the US, that good posture makes a person with great skin truly radiant.
As an aesthetician, you can help Mary by simply mentioning the flexibility class or teacher in your area, knowing that her participation in these programs will ultimately improve her posture, self-image and skin tone. Planting this thought as a seed is a gentle way to encourage her to make good choices for which she will later thank you.
“Posture tells me more of what’s going on emotionally with that client, which will guide me with how I’m going to work with her in the treatment and with her skin.”
Vannessa Turner, Head Aesthetician, Catherine Atzen Day Spa, New York City
WHAT STORY YOUR POSTURE HAS TO TELL
“Posture tells me more of what’s going on emotionally with that client, which will guide me with how I’m going to work with her in the treatment and with her skin… Poor posture tells me automatically that she is insecure, harboring mental or physical pain, and there are things she is unhappy or unsure about in herself… Good posture makes me automatically assume they are comfortable about themselves, living a healthy lifestyle, independent and comfortable with their atmosphere…” says Vanessa Turner, Head Aesthetician at Catherine Atzen Day Spa, in New York City.
Considering the importance of posture on the whole person, industry leader Catherine Atzen, Director/Owner, Catherine Atzen Skin Care Center, in San Jose, CA says: “…If a person doesn’t feel very good about themselves, the skin and the posture are going to show it… A person whose shoulders are slumped forward, typically has no eye contact, a lack of luster… poor [blood] circulation and poor lymphatic circulation. They have less vitality. When people have less vitality, they have more cellulite and heavy leg problems.”
“The more energetic person will have [better posture], more self-confidence, stand tall and look you in the eyes.”
Catherine Atzen, Owner, Director, Catherine Atzen Skin Care Center, San Jose, CA
Ms. Atzen goes on to say, “The more energetic person will have [better posture], more self-confidence, stand tall and look you in the eyes. Blood and lymphatic circulation will most likely be healthier. She will also have fewer problems with heavy legs and cellulite.”
Spas throughout the US and Canada are seeing people’s posture improve immediately following certain lymphatic drainage treatments, as fluids are eliminated from the body, especially in the derriere, legs and arms— Most aestheticians relate the posture improvement to increased self-esteem. As Mary’s body image improves, the image she projects improves. She feels more attractive. Her body system is balanced, cleansed, and Mary feels better about herself.
POSTURE FEEDBACK LOOP
According to Roxanne Maxwell, Paramedical Aesthetician at Preston Wynne Spa in Saratoga, CA, “…The negative view of one’s body image is reflected in the posture AND in the skin. There is a negative feedback loop between stress, self-destructive lifestyle choices such as poor diet, lack of exercise, toxic work choices, poor posture and skin condition, negative body image and low self-esteem…”
She continues, “On the other hand, there is a positive feedback loop between good posture, healthy lifestyle and work choices, high self-esteem and positive body image, and positive feedback from professional and social circles…”
“…Posture issues seem to stem from self-image at puberty…the media also has an effect on how a woman sees herself throughout life…”
Méghan Jared, Managing Aesthetician, The Greenhouse Spa, Birmingham, AL
What we know about posture helps us validate that there is a mind-body connection that affects skin conditions, and may have some effect on which products would be best for our specific client. Our role on Mary’s mind-body team could be the one that keeps her focused on how and where to find her essential self.
The body uses fat and water as a ballast system to balance body weight.
As a posture researcher and creator of Reposturing®, This writer has made two intriguing discoveries:
- The body uses fat and water as a ballast system to balance body weight left to right, front to back, and upper to lower body, in the neck, arms, breasts, derriere and thighs.
- As a person, male or female, improves his or her posture, their self-esteem improves measurably.
In comparing this writers’ findings with those of Catherine Atzen’s observations, there seems to be a reciprocal similarity between the immediate postural improvement immediately following a lymphatic drainage treatment, and the long-term cellulite reduction with a series of specific posture improvement treatments, classes or exercises. Considering the ballasting process of the body, if the arms, thighs and derriere become leaner, from a weight-balancing perspective, the body should tend to be and feel more upright, even if it only does so for a short time. (For example, carrying groceries a long way, then finally putting them down, and standing up)
The aesthetics professional is one of the few specialists who clients rely on for accurate feedback about their skin and body, who can actually do something about it. Aestheticians need to know about the role of posture and body alignment in relation to skin and body image. They need to know who else can help clients improve their posture with treatments, exercise or other therapies.
Lastly, the aesthetics professional needs to help him or herself have good posture, too. It is almost as, if not more, important for the aesthetician to be the role model for what is possible to improve one’s posture.
If Mary is going to follow your suggestions, you will be more effective if you do, too. END
Special Thanks to the following experts who were invaluable resources for this project:
Lee-Ann MacNeil, Staff Aesthetician, Fayez Beauty Spa, 2224 Wharncliffe Road South, London, Ontario, Canada 519-652-2780 – FayezBeautySpa.com
Vannessa Turner, Head Aesthetician, Catherine Atzen Day Spa, 856 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, 10021- 212-517-2400 – www.Atzen.com
Méghan Jared, Managing Aesthetician, Medical Aesthetician, Greenhouse Day Spa, 3439 Colonade Parkway, Birmingham, AL, 35243 205-967-1177
Carole St. Pierre, Institut Carole St. Pierre, 33 Wharf Road, Hudson, Quebec J0P-1H0 -450-458-5607 – CaroleSt-Pierre.com
Vera Brown, Owner, Director, Vera’s Retreat in the Glen, 2980 Beverly Glen Circle Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90077 – www.Verasretreat.com 310-470-6362
Michelle Ornstein, Owner/Aesthetician, Ennessa Aromatherapy Wellness Spa 8012 ½ Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046 – 323-655-5950 – www.Enessa.com
Nita Bryson , Spa Owner/ Director – Bellissima Day Spa – 122 East Grand Ave. – Escondido, CA, 92025- 760-480-9072 – www.Bellissima-Spa.com
Rochelle Maxwell, Aesthetician, Certified Medical Assistant, Osteopathic Nurse, Paramedical Aesthetician, Liason to Cosmetic Surgeons, Team Coordinator of Medical Aesthetics Program
Preston Wynne Day Spa, 14567 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA, 95070 – 408-741-5525 – DaySpa@PrestonWynne.com
Catherine Atzen, Catherine Atzen Skin Care Center 281 East Hamilton Ave. , Suite 9 Campbell, CA, 95008, 408-370-7546 – www.Atzen.com
Margaret Smith, Licensed Aesthetician, Salon 1199, 1199 Howard Avenue, Suite 103, Burlingame, CA 94010 – 650 375-1199
Zaida Rivené, Doctor of Chiropractic, 407 North San Mateo Drive, San Mateo, CA, 94401-2417 – 650-342-4623
Alicia Parnell, Director of Communications, Parnell Vitality Center, 407 North San Mateo Drive, San Mateo, CA 94401-2417 650-347-4565
San Francisco Bay Area:
Aaron Parnell, Developer of Reposturing, Creator of Facial Reposturing, 650-347-4565 – www.Reposturing.com
Southern California and National:
Pete Egoscue Method: www.egoscue.com
The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion
by Pete Egoscue
Expressive Movement : Posture and Action in Daily Life, Sports, and the Performing Arts
by Alexandra Pierce and Roger Pierce
Posture, Get It Straight!
by Janice Novak, Barbara A. Beshoar (Illustrator)
The Alexander Technique Manual : A Step-By-Step Guide to Improve Breathing, Posture and Well-Being by Richard Brennan