Posture Role Models on the Red Carpet
During red carpet season, it’s a time of extreme diets, extreme jewels and extreme standing poses. While the red carpet is nothing new, it has become a hyper-photographed phenomenon, with millions of photos published nearly real-time on news sites and social media. These images blatantly influence fashion as well as our everyday posture.
Actresses wear stunning dresses and then pose in what is basically a stunning feat of misaligned body mechanics: a standing backbend. While we’ve come to think of this pose as sexy, powerful, and appealing, in reality, it’s creating compression in our spines, overusing our muscles, and weakening our bodies.
And You Thought Backbend Were Only for Gymnastics and Yoga
The photos above show various degrees of swaybacks that have turned into mini backbends. The butt is pushed back and up, the chest is lifted and the shoulders, instead of being aligned with the hip socket, now move beyond the butt. The back, neck and head are now forced into a backbend, requiring lots of effort and muscles to keep the body from falling backwards. In this backbend position, the eyes would normally be looking at the sky so in order to look straight ahead, the head has to be muscled down and forward. Over time, this creates a hump in the upper back and a painfully curved neck.
The other way to get a backbend while standing is to push the pelvis unnaturally forward, as seen to varying degrees in the photos below. This pose, made popular by professional models (second photo from left), has subconsciously been adopted by most Americans and is a leading cause of pain, discomfort, unsightly curves in the upper back, hunched shoulders and foot problems.
Comparison: Aligned vs. Misaligned
Let’s compare standing poses: yesteryear, today’s celebs and the average person.
To find women in gowns who are standing in pain-free alignment, we must look to the turn of the century (see a visual history of why this is the case). The woman in 1909 on the far left is not pushing back her butt, lifting her chest or pushing her pelvis forward. She is not in a backbend at all. Her head rests comfortably on her aligned spine and neck. She can easily stay in this standing, resting position for a long time.
The two red carpet celebs in the middle are in various forms of backbends. This takes muscular effort and in the long run, causes spinal compression, unwanted curves and more than likely, pain. The average person, such as the young woman on the far right, has adopted a posture that mimics what she sees in the popular media or simply from the people standing around her. Because of this, she has changed her posture from the aligned posture she had as a toddler to the misaligned posture she has today.