Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Another Ackland Street moment ... shoppers and tourists paused to check out the young bride and her groom dodging the trams to get to the other side of the road. She was decked out in the full pavlova - full, white and frothy, with bare shoulders. It took me a second or two work out what was so jarringly wrong with her look. She couldn't stand up straight or walk properly.
The poor girl had almost certainly spent much time, energy and dosh on sourcing the frock for her Big Day, but apparently no one had told her that her efforts would come to naught if she couldn't sharpen up her posture. So here she was, stomping down the street, neck first, shoulders rounded, looking, in spite of the fairytale dress, like she was about to dig spuds.  
It takes one to know one. When I started grammar school aged 11, I was swiftly diagnosed with round shoulders, told to miss assembly every Wednesday and go instead to the gym. Here were gathered the halt and lame. The flat-footed edged their way along floor's white lines, curling one foot at a time; the stooped had their shoulders briskly pulled back to their "proper" position by the nurse and spent the time it took for a hymn, a prayer and various announcements, promenading the perimeter to the accompaniment of stirring band music.
You can imagine how helpful this was for improving my posture. Which, I realised years later, was almost entirely due to crippling lack of confidence and large shoulder blades. That well-meaning nurse would have achieved better results by sitting me down and talking to me. I might, if I trusted her, have confessed that there was no way on god's green earth I was going to stand or walk chest first, because I didn't have one, and the best way to disguise this shameful condition was to hunch and keep my head down.
I didn't come of age, posture-wise, for several more decades. One day, I realised it had corrected itself, that I now stood and walked tall because I felt I deserved to. And my big shoulder blades fell naturally into place. Pilates helped. And so has tango.
So, there's a market niche here - teaching prospective brides how to stand and walk in order to carry off that glamourous gown.

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