Recently, I was lucky enough to get a massage from a fellow yoga teacher. During the massage, my friend started recounting the thousands of bodies she’s seen over the years. Something you learn when you touch people for a living is that no two bodies are alike. I know that’s kind of a simplistic revelation, but if you distill it and frame it in a broad sense, it’s huge.
Traditional aesthetic perfection exists in symmetry. Following that logic, the concept of a “perfect body” instantly becomes laughable. Since what makes us human is our uniqueness, we are inherently imperfect. (Alternatively, if symmetry exists in the repetition of asymmetry, we are all inherently perfect.) No leg is the same as another leg; no toe has a twin; no two eyes have precisely the same shape.
Not surprisingly, the distorting element is the imposition of socially regarded and fanatically clung to standards. There is no real standardized ideal of perfection; it’s simply an illusion. What we are accepting for ourselves is the suggestion of a few “influential” people. We become a swarm of lemmings clamoring around their opinion, thankful to assume it as our own because then we no longer have to think about what turns us on.
The problem with defining the perfect body is not that it is unattainable; the problem with defining the perfect body is that it reveals a laziness of intellect. By the very nature of our existence, the perfect body has to mean something different to each of us. Fighting it is fighting our essential “different-ness.” Of course, it’s easiest to look at a magazine and decide that the skinny, bony model has exactly what you want. And while that decision may cause you a considerable amount of grief, the decision itself is the problem. In making that decision, you surrendered your opinion to some masochistic sycophant.
What else have you so freely surrendered?
I think the word “perfect” should be replaced with the word “optimal.” While perfection is largely subjective and intangible, “optimal” actually exists. And yes, it takes hard work to achieve “optimal,” but it is a healthy, life-affirming goal. It requires physical and intellectual rigor (you are required to withstand the current of your indoctrination over and over again), but the
results present themselves immediately. With practice and determination, it becomes the easy path. To model your standard based on another person is to live a life in shackles, while working towards your capacity is inspired and intelligent. Nothing is
sexier than someone who dedicates him or herself to maintaining the optimal expression of his/her own unique individuality.
This doesn’t mean you can’t eat chocolate cupcakes in bed every once in a while, but it is a call for change. Change your perception by challenging it. Figure out what really turns you on. And when the un-photoshopped answer reveals itself, go for it.
Christina Nicole is a Connecticut-based Vinyasa yoga teacher, writer and lover of life. After a successful career as a marketing executive, Christina redirected her professional energy towards living her dream and is now a full-time yogini. Christina encourages the alignment of intellectual and physical pursuits with her sincere and heartfelt approach to yoga that erupts as often in humor as it does in rapture.