When my husband was working on his undergraduate degree in history, he had an assignment to write about the 1940’s using the school’s archives of McCall’s magazine. He wrote about how the ads exploited the emotions of war wives and the homecoming of soldiers in order to sell things like silverware and soap.
This one’s my favorite. It reads: “Happy New Year – I’m Your Dad!”
While he was sifting through the archives, he found this gem: the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of good posture according to McCall’s Magazine. Knowing that it would make my day, he snapped a quick picture.
(Top. How to Stand.) Don’t: “Stand like this, you look ten years older! Your tummy is pushed out, back rounded, head and neck outthrust like a turtle’s”. Could they have picked less flattering imagery? Do: “Stand tall, feet straight ahead, tummy pulled in, buttock muscles tucked under, shoulders erect, head and neck held high.” I will grant them, the picture on the left is really sad looking….and the one on the right looks much better. Feet straight ahead-yay! Pulling your tummy in and tucking your butt under? Not so much. It looks good, but she’s on the fast track to back pain and sneeze pee.
(Bottom. How to walk.) Don’t: “Lead from your chin in walking! Abdomen sags; body slumps for it is used in disjointed sections, big muscles out of balance.” …..I don’t even know what any of this means. Do: “Start walking from a good standing posture with a spring in your step. Weight of body should be even over both legs and feet.” Why do I need a spring in my step?
(Top. How to climb stairs.) Don’t: “Carry your weight from lower back or cramp middle muscles in climbing stairs. You tire if you don’t use leg, thigh muscles.” What? How do you climb stairs without using your legs? Do: “Climb stairs correctly. Lift weight by strong leg, thigh muscles. Body slightly forward, erect, as in good standing posture.” (Sigh)
(Bottom. How to carry bundles.) Don’t: “Use your hips for a shelf to carry bundles, books; this causes curvatures. You look lopsided— ” Oh, I totally do that, carry the laundry basket on my hips… Wait! It got cut off?! Lopsided…and what? Man, I bet it was good. Do: “Carry bundles with shoulders and hips even. Spine straight, use muscles of back, abdomen, arms.” That’s actually not bad….but what came after “lopsided”?
Well done Husband, well done.
Besides the obvious entertainment factor, why am I sharing this? I think it has some good reminders for us.
1) Beware of where you get your health information. There is a whole generation of ladies with pelvic floor disorders because they read to tuck their pelvis and pull in their tummy in McCall’s magazine. Ok, that’s dramatic. It’s not all their fault; McCall’s was simply reflecting the popular belief of the culture. But you get my point? The same thing happens today. Just because SHAPE magazine or Oprah told you to do 3 sets of 50 kegels everyday, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. (It’s not a good idea, by the way. Read why here.) No one is trying to mislead you or sabotage your health, but sometimes information you read is based on popular culture instead of science. (Or it starts out as science and then becomes misunderstood/misinterpreted and turns into something scary.) The point is, question what you read/hear. Always ask “WHY”, especially if you are going to make a decision about your health based on the info.
2) “Good posture” is decided by the culture and has nothing to do with health. Just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Read more about the difference between posture and alignment here.
3) Did you notice the vague and subjective language? Shoulders erect, lead from your chin, good standing posture, big muscles out of balance, don’t cramp your middle muscles…. When you read these, did you think “What exactly does that MEAN!?”. Recommendations for good posture are often subjective. There is a lot of room for interpretation and misunderstanding. When it comes to your health, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification!