How Yoga Makes You Pretty

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By Melanie Klein

This post is an excerpt from Melanie Klein’s chapter, “How Yoga Makes You Pretty: The Beauty Myth, Yoga and Me”  in the forthcoming anthology, 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice, available May 1, 2012 (pre-order here). An earlier version of this post was originally published at Elephant Journal in two parts.

We’ve been told that “pretty” is the magical elixir for everything that ails us. If we’re pretty, we’re bound to be happier than people who aren’t pretty. If we’re pretty, we’ll never be lonely; we’ll have more Facebook friend requests; we’ll go on more dates; we’ll find true love (or just get laid more often); we’ll be popular. If we’re pretty, we’ll be successful; we’ll get a better job; we’ll get rewarded with countless promotions; our paychecks will be bigger. Cultural and personal rewards for being pretty are a form of cultural currency, as Naomi Wolf elucidates in the feminist classic, The Beauty Myth.  In short, “pretty” will buy us love, power and influence. It will solve all our problems. “Pretty” will ultimately make us feel good.

And who doesn’t want to feel good?

While this emphasis on physical perfection is a goal presented to us from a variety of sources, the pursuit of pretty is most often given precedence via the mainstream media. The media juggernaut that actively shapes our 21st century cultural environment sells us this promise and perpetuates this myth beginning in early childhood. Even the toys I played with as a girl have become sexified, slimmer and more heavily made up. The princess brigade continues to spotlight beauty and the pursuit of Prince Charming. And, let’s face it, you nab your prince with your spellbinding beauty. I mean, really, have you ever seen an ugly princess, especially one that lands the guy? I didn’t think so. And think about poor Snow White. Beauty took such a priority that the Queen hired a hit man to take the fairest in the land out.

The continuous assault continues as we move through adolescence and adulthood. It meets our gaze at every turn through fashion, television, film, music, and advertising. These images and messages are practically inescapable, even in yoga publications these days. They peddle products that actively sculpt our desire and entice us using sleek, sculpted models and celebrities in computer retouched photos.  The advertising industry, the foundation of the mass media, is specifically designed to appeal to our emotions and shape our expectations, thereby constructing cultural values. Advertising constructs enviable identities and lifestyles in order to sell a gamut of products and services from beer, luxury cars and designer shoes to yoga mats, DVDs and diet pills. And there are billions of dollars in profit when we succumb. Ultimately, we’re spoon-fed repetitive streams of unrealistic images in a virtual onslaught that tells girls and women, and increasingly boys and men, that the most valuable thing we can aspire to be is, well, pretty.

And the tantalizing promises of a better, prettier, you are absolutely everywhere. The idea that we can simply “turn off” or “ignore” these messages is narrow in scope and short sighted. Unless you’re living under a rock – wait, make that in a hermetically sealed bubble – you are affected in one way or another. And so are those around you.

Like many girls and women, I had waged a war on my body most of my life. In 1997, I had  the great fortune of landing in the company of an eclectic group of yogis led by the sometimes delightfully inappropriate and absolutely authentic Bryan Kest. Not only did Bryan become my yoga teacher, he also became my one of my first body image teachers. His teaching fused physical postures, breath and meditation with a focus on media literacy and body image awareness. Whether he knew it or used those exact terms didn’t matter. His rough edges held pearls of wisdom for me—wisdom that helped me heal my self-hatred and body abuse. He asked us to consider the health of our toes and spine, things that are not given any attention in the mainstream beauty aesthetic or fitness industry. Things I had never considered before.

According to Kest, “Everybody wants to be pretty because that’s what they’ve been told will make them feel good, even though there’s no proof that people who are prettier are healthier and happier. So why don’t we just cut to the chase and go straight to what makes us feel good?” Bryan urged us to stop comparing and competing with one another . . .  and ourselves. He commanded us to be with the reality of that moment and detach from the artificial images in our minds. And in doing so, he challenges us to confront the demands of our egos.

And that is the practice of yoga-the state of mind you cultivate as you move through your life’s experience. It is a practice devoted to uniting mind, body and spirit—creating unity, balance and peace. As Georg Feuerstein points out, yoga was classified as a “spiritual endeavor” utilized to cease the fluctuations of the mind and senses as early as the second millennium BC. This stands in stark contrast to our Greco-Roman tradition, which values the power of the intellect over the inherent wisdom of the body – thereby creating a duality referred to as the mind-body split.

Yoga is a pathway to cultivate self-love, allowing us to shift our sense of validation inward, as opposed to the standard practice of measuring one’s worth based on external definitions. We’re able to begin defining ourselves from the inside out, rather than the outside in. In fact, the cultural validation we’re encouraged to seek often fans the flames of further discontent since we can never be thin enough, muscular enough, wealthy enough or pretty enough by mainstream standards. Even if we are a waify size-zero, a bulked up mass of muscles, a millionaire or a picture-perfect model, happiness isn’t a guarantee. There are plenty of depressed, disgruntled, unsatisfied “pretty people” with low self-esteem.

“Pretty” doesn’t necessarily signal a healthy body, mentally or physically. In fact, in my own work as a body image activist, many of the most “beautiful” women I’ve met have had some of the most dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships with their bodies. Too often, this has been marked by eating disorders, disordered eating and dangerous beauty rituals to maintain the outward facade. In the end, there isn’t a direct correlation between being pretty and being happy or healthy. The prizes “pretty” entices us with can’t be enjoyed without a deeper connection, a feeling of wellness, wholeness and/or self-love. Pretty hasn’t delivered and what has been defined as pretty isn’t real or sustainable.

Remember, Naomi Wolf called it the “beauty myth” for a reason.

What’s your intention? To look pretty or feel beautiful?

Related Posts:

Feminism, Body Image and Yoga

Nude Yoga for Body Acceptance

“I’m Not a Size Zero. Can I Practice Yoga?” Anne Guest-Jelley Says “Yes!”

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Comments

  1. Mitchelle Bareng says:

    YES! I completely agree that “‘Pretty’ doesn’t necessarily signal a healthy body, mentally or physically.” My best friend is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. There are certain times where she agrees but majority of the time she feels that she is never good enough. She constantly compares herself to women in the media but in my opinion she is must prettier than they are. What saddens me though, is the fact that she spends more time trying to maintain her beauty (which she does not need to do) than actually just loving it. It may be cliche but I do believe that beauty (pretty) comes from within and if you are able to love yourself completely because of the person you are, that radiates on the outside and makes you look so beautiful. If we didn’t care so much about looking like the women from the media and getting approval from men, than self-love would be attainable.

  2. I do not like how doing yoga associates with loosing weight and then that connections with being “pretty”. Yoga is intended for one to get in touch spiritually and meditate as people in in the Eastern hemisphere. And the word pretty is used in a hurt full way to women who are not “pretty” to societal norms. I agree with what Ms. Klien wrote at the end how she explained that “pretty” does not necessarily signal a healthy body, mentally or physically. I have always thought too that the “prettiest” women I know are in fact the least attractive based on societal norms. This ideology of the term “pretty” should be changed in the way people use the term. Also when the word yoga comes about around the majority of young men they think of sex and how women do it to be more flexible in bed which is what our patriarchal society has ingrained the idea of sex in a young mens mind which also is unacceptable.

  3. Anna Kleyman says:

    Pretty has been an over-rated topic in society for as long as I have been able to see and read. Women are always being pushed to sign up for the latest pilates class, or get the latest hydrating facials…..Growing up as a girl, I’ve always felt the pressures to be beautiful. As many girls, I’ve had my ups and downs, but at the end of the day, luckily I had a very supportive family who always told me that beauty is inside and it will shine through the outside. I had many friends who came from quite opposite backgrounds. Their mothers would force them to do crazy diet and attend the gym like it was church on a Sunday morning! We are all beautiful, and you need to do things that will make you feel that way. I think something like yoga is perfect for the body, mind and soul. I have taken a few yoga classes, and I must say I felt so alive after!! There is something about being in touch with your body and the breathing that allows you to block out and wash away all negative energy and use that moment for yourself. Yoga is much underrated, and gyms are overrated. I like things more like classes, such as yoga and acupuncture treatments to relax you than vigorous workouts that lead to more anxiety!

  4. Pauline T says:

    I enjoyed reading this article because it is true when people say everything revolves around being “pretty”. I used to think, and still think at times, that everyone should try their best to look pretty. Over the past few years, I realized that if one does not truly like themselves for who they are, they will never think of themselves as “pretty”. It is essential for people to love who they are and what they look like. I myself do yoga once in a while; I wish I did it more because I love the way I feel after each session. It is true when you said yoga promotes self- love. This is important to love who you are considering all of the garbage the media shoves down our throats. We need to ignore what we are fed, and learn to become one with our body, and yoga is something that can help us with that.

  5. jasmine M says:

    Pretty does not mean that you are happy, is something that jumped out to me while I was reading this excerpt. The concept of being pretty is used so interchangeably that society has molded us into believing that to be pretty was to be happy. I know a couple of people who have struggled with eating disorder and they were beautiful people. Society tells us that beautiful people should be happy and yet beautify people engage in self- destructive behaviors everyday. I have tried yoga a couple of time and I never really got the concept of it. I mainly looked at it as a form of exercise that emphasized flexibility. I had trouble doing some of the poses so I stopped trying the exercises. However, after reading this excerpt, I feel like I respect the craft much more. I never fully understood that yoga was about purifying the body inside out and learning how to be beautiful from within. I have long ago rejected societies standards of beauty, and I think yoga will really reinforce this state of mind. I definitely will give yoga another try!

  6. Corrin M. says:

    I definitely see the benefit of yoga, and having your mind, body and soul balanced. I have never taken a class due to the slow pace of it. I usually go for cardio kickboxing. I thought this was releasing my built up anger/stress. I love have you ended the piece with “Do you want to look pretty, or feel beautiful”. There have been so many instances where i looked pretty but didn’t feel beautiful. I also agree with the statement the prettiest faces have unhealthy relationships. Not just with their bodies but with people. Most people would say I fit the standard of beauty, and have said it all my life. Nothing could convince me, i was never skinny enough, my skin was never even enough, and nothing was ever enough. I was skinny then, but now I have lost a lot of weight, and battle with being chastised for being so small now. This made me finally have to find it in myself. I am much more comfortable in my own skin now, I stand 5’11 128lbs and feel beautiful. I look forward to taking a yoga class!

  7. Berenice V says:

    Last semester I took a Yoga class and like you mentioned it was a “spiritual endeavor”, it truly helped me connect with both my mind and body. Normally I would consider myself an inpatient person, but yoga taught me the power of mediation. Yoga is more than a stress reliever, it help ease the mind and body. As I was taking the class I noticed that my body felt less fatigued and my moods were balanced and whenever I felt stress, practicing some yoga helped lift the tension. The whole being “pretty” ideology serves as a false aspiration to finding happiness. It does not make sense to undergo our bodies through unnecessary cosmetic plastic surgeries, dieting, because in the end that just creates an unhealthy lifestyle. True happiness starts with first accepting one’s present image and embracing it which create a self worth identity. Sadly our society is constantly scrutinizing and criticizing women to the point where women cannot even feel comfortable in their own skin and end up in the hospital or worse, dead from malnutrition. The media, magazines, bill ads, even or peers serve as negative reinforcers in regulating how one should look. As we have all seen in social media, the so called prettier people tend to get rewards as well as an easier life due to the fact that they are prettier, making them desirable and liked, but most of these people suffer and pay a higher price in order to keep these standards. There are so many factors that go into a person happiness and well-being other than what is on the outside.

  8. I completely agree with the main idea of this article – “pretty” does not equal happiness in either the physical or mental state of being. I myself have known a lot of very pretty girls who have really bad self-esteem issues and struggle with body image and personal value. The idea that physical perfection has always been prominent in the media and has ultimately been an issue when it came to body image and how women see themselves based on the images they see everyday. What they tend to cover up is the idea that even beauty doesn’t mean happiness. Many “beautiful” girls tend to have the most physical problems as well as mental issues in regards to their bodies. Yoga seems to be the catalyst to being able to achieve self-acceptance and self- value through knowing that your body is healthy and well maintained. It was very inspirational to see that the instructors support a positive mindset of how people should see themselves and ignore the negative connotations that are spewed at people on a daily basis. The idea that real beauty can be achieved through positive practice via exercise and attention to the small things that matter to be able to see ourselves in a more positive light.

  9. Ajalah T. says:

    The beauty myth is something that I think has plagued every girl at one point or another, especially those that felt they didn’t fit the part. The belief that those who are pretty live happier lives and have things come easier to them is something that couldn’t be more false. I agree with you when you say that those who are considered beautiful often times are the most unhappy out of everyone mainly because they feel this obligation or pressure to maintain their “perfect” image. In reality beauty is not everything and when those who only have beauty to rely on loose it often times they go through a major depression or even commit suicide. I personally have never practiced yoga although it has been something that I wanted to try for some time now, if I could just get my lazy butt of the couch and in a yoga class, I had no idea that yoga had such a spiritual and empowering quality to it. I believe that it is important for girls and women to find an activity such as this to help build self worth and self love, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

  10. Holly A. says:

    I really do believe the whole world revolves around being pretty. My WHOLE life (up until I took my WS 10 class) has been devoted to being pretty. My mother and my aunts even urge me to always strive to be the prettiest or else I wont get ‘married’. I myself even tell myself “if only I was prettier and skinner, I would be SUCH a happy person”. There is really no way to escape such pressures of ‘pretty’. Prettyness is everywhere, from the toys toddlers play with to the media advertisements in the streets. Such pressure is inescapable. What I do agree with is that for one to truly feel pretty they must feel one with their body and learn to love their body. I have not gotten to that point where I love myself and my body, but I do believe that when one reaches that place, that is when they are truly happy. Yoga really does seem like an a very physically and spiritually healing work out. I will definitely try. It is time we all love ourselves.

  11. Tanya G. says:

    Wow this article left me speechless. I myself always worry about looking pretty. From waxing my eyebrows, to wearing painful heels, and spending so much time getting ready before I go out. This is my everyday life. I rather feel beautiful than to simply just look “pretty”. I have never given yoga a try because I am self-conscious. I always imagine skinny women, in tight pants, fit, and very flexible doing yoga and I do not fit those characteristics. This article makes me realize that I should not just base how all people that do yoga should look just by looking at magazines and movies. I try the media not to affect the way I feel about myself but it is hard. The media makes a great job at making us not love the way we are and always compare ourselves to those fake people and try to look like them. In movies, TV shows, commercials, and other type of media the pretty women always get the handsome men, have a good career, love themselves, get what they want etc. While the not so good looking women are made fun of, always single, are not the ones in charge and are not happy with themselves. I have to love myself and as long as I am a good person I should not care about what other people think about me based on how I look. I will definitely give yoga a try and hopefully it helps me feel better about myself. It is the small steps that count. This is a great article and if we are fortunate enough to run into it and read it we should share it with our friends and family. There are not many articles that make us realize that being “pretty” is not all that matters and I am glad I read this one.

  12. Melissa M says:

    It’s so true everything relates back to being “Pretty.” I also used to think this, but in my recent college years, I realized that being “pretty” would never truly make me happy if there wasn’t some sort of wellness within myself. And that’s when I changed my mindset from wanting to lose weight to wanting to be healthy and to feel good within my body. Which I realized including having to change the way I was eating because it was making me sluggish. I have never tried yoga and nor do I know anyone who has. But this article has me intrigued to do so now because of how it focuses on improving self-love. And that is something that should always be practiced, especially since the media shoves this idea of “pretty” to go hand in hand with happiness and success. So we can’t help but be affected by that kind of mentality, to strive to be “pretty” because we think it will fix all our problems and get us to a place we want to be. So we have to conscious practice self-love to really reach a point of happiness and wellness.

  13. Cynthia M. says:

    We are constantly bombarded through ads and the media of what beauty is, so it’s hard not to get caught up with trying to fit the standards. We become so preoccupied with trying to look the way we are expected to look, that we forget to think about our health and the damage that trying to live up to these standards can cause. Looking or being pretty will not guarantee us happiness, it’s a false image portrayed in order to meet an ideal of beauty. I believe that feeling beautiful is much more important than just looking pretty. I believe our mind is so powerful, if we begin to drop the negative thoughts about ourselves, we can begin to push them back and work towards our self-image instead of worrying how others portray us. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but it takes a first step in order to have a change of mind. I myself have not taken yoga, but I can see that yoga helps people take the first step towards having a change of mind. Yoga helps people feel good inside, which ultimately matters in order to feel good outside. Reading this post, and posts similar, I am very interested in taking a yoga class now.

  14. Wesley L. says:

    The problem with pretty is that society classifies pretty as being the best of the best, having no physical blemishes, being tall, skinny, smooth, basically having a perfect body, a beautiful body. These types of bodies are rarely in person on a daily basis, but society uses the media and advertisement to represent every aspect of life with the use of pretty, beautiful and perfect looking individuals. I for one have never seen anyone match the criteria that society says we are to be, yes I have seen pretty people but not the ones who are on tv or in the magazines. Like the article said, the computer can craft false images of people, so these images are basically a myth and a dream that is unreachable. I have fallen to the conformity of society, I see commercials for men and athletics that have guys with 8 pack, with diamond cut muscles, a perfect jaw bone and wavy hair. I use those images to shape my attitude and idea of what is pretty and I strive for that look. I do get down in the dumbs and tell myself, “if only I looked like that, would my life be a cake walk.” I have wished that I was taller so I could be a perfect athlete and make millions. It wasn’t till I realized I have a purpose for my own life and my own journey doesn’t consist of being 6ft 5’in and having ragging muscles. I understood that I was perfect in my own ways and that I had to be content with what I had. I am happy with myself, my looks and completions, and will not let society tell me how I am suppose to look or what i need to be happy. I have never done yoga, but my own type of mediation and inner connection is by mediating on my religion and God, knowing there is a plan for my life and that I was created for a purpose, which in the end helps me gain self respect and self love for who I am.

  15. Brittany P says:

    I really like how you bring up the fact that everyone relates being “pretty” to being happy. Most everyone thinks this because that is what everyone is telling us. Media portrays this is almost every single add the show on television. Also there are so many commercials that show weight loss and all the girls look unhappy when then had a few extra pounds on them but as soon as they lost the weight all their troubles disappear and are happy. Also this idea that being pretty makes you happy starts with young children. In all the princess movies beauty is a key aspect which teaches young girls that being pretty is important.
    I think it is important what your yoga teacher taught you. To be happy a person has to have self-love. If a person does not have self-love then they cannot truly be happy. If people want to be happy they need to push aside the artificial images and confront what your self-worth. Practicing yoga allows for this to be done.

  16. Esmeralda Martinez says:

    My personal goal is to accept myself for who I am instead and outside. I know that based on the standards of what society view as as beautiful I do not make the cut. I am now in my mid twenties and I am learning everyday that looks are not everything. I am in a place where I am looking to do self- care. By doing hikes and becoming more physically active. Reading this only enlightens me further. I am only want to be pretty based on my standards. So my goals of self care are about being able to enjoy life without repercussions of poor health choices. Now that I am a parent I realize that I need to be take care of myself in order to be able to keep up with an active toddler. Also I need to set an example for him. If i choose to sit around to watch television then he will follow my lead. At the same time I can’t completely say 100% that in some ways I am still influenced by the media it is difficult not to be because it is all around me. From the television, advertisements and people around me.

  17. Debora G says:

    Although, I have not taken a yoga class reading this article has open my eye to a world I am interested in exploring. In terms of beauty society has an unrealistic image of what the prefect women needs to look like. According to society, “pretty will buy us love, power and influence. It will solve all our problems. Pretty will ultimately make us feel good”, which is not always the case. Just like you, I’ve experience the pressure from mass media and my family to be the best I can be and look a certain way. I found myself very unhappy because I could never look the way the media portrayed women. I was never going to be tall or skinny enough like the women in magazines and on TV. I felt that I was in consistent war with my image because I wanted to look a certain way but I knew it was impossible. I worked out to untimely make me happy but what I noticed it just made me hate my body more. The more I worked out the more pressure I put on myself to reach the prefect body. I consistent compared myself to other women at the gym and wish I was tall and had a six pack. Working out never gave me the happiness that yoga has for people. The article states, “Pretty doesn’t necessarily signal a healthy body, mentally, or physically. In fact, in my own work as a body image activist, many of the most beautiful women I’ve met have had some of the most dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships with their bodies. Untimely people that are considered “pretty” are faced with the same challenges as other people in terms of the way society wants them to look.

  18. Sonia B. says:

    Being pretty, beautiful, or gorgeous is all that girls worry about these days. On Facebook, I see how high school girls tell each other how jealous they are of each other for being so pretty and fun. This makes me think of how did our society come to this point where girls have to constantly be comparing themselves to other girls and try to compete in dressing cute or having their nails done and have the cutest outfit. I believe that this mentality just brings girls’ self esteem down and this is how eating disorders are developed. I took yoga for the first time at school and it helped me be more aware of my body and I learned how to reconnect with myself and notice things that I haven’t before. Yoga has helped me recognize the beauty that lies within me and within everyone, men and women. Girls are influenced by the media and when they see a thin woman promoting something like a yoga mat, they believe that this is how they are supposed to look like so they can attract a good guy. Personally, I think that if a “good guy” is someone that will love a woman if she is thin and “pretty”, he’s not a real man, and it is sad that girls do not see this. The fact that some people think that prettier or healthier equals happier is just plain silly to me because there are people who are not a size zero or have the perfect image and they are perfectly fine with themselves and who they are.

  19. Raven G says:

    Just like many others, I myself am guilty of abusing the art of yoga. I was lured into taking yoga months ago by a friend, whose body results were quite shocking; long, lean muscles, flat abs, and a tight butt. Naturally, I wanted the same thing, to be “pretty”. After taking just one class, i realized that yoga is meant for so much more. Despite the toned, gorgeous women that appear on the ads of yoga studios everywhere, yoga is intended for so much more. After reading this, I further realized my own war with my body image and my long to be pretty. Then weighed my options: to be pretty or feel beautiful. Feel beautiful was my choice, easier said then done, when “pretty” is what i feel smothered with.

    As you said, yoga allows us to shift our sense of validation inward, as opposed to the standard practice of measuring one’s worth based on external definitions.

  20. Elizabeth D. says:

    I never thought of correlating the relationship between yoga, being pretty and/or beautiful into one view, until now. Reflecting back to a few years ago, I once took a yoga class and I remember being skeptical. At the time as I was taking the yoga class I told myself to be open minded and try out something new. I remembered my main goal was weight loss and aiming to look good physically. I guess at that time the media got to me, hearing and reading in magazines about celebs taking yoga classes. Moreover, once I was halfway through the class, I started to enjoy it. I found it to be very peaceful, relaxing, and really began to feel it was my time. My goal from the start changed and I realized that I found something that made my body and mind feel so calm. I even got more excited about how fast and far I advanced in performing some of the poses. After reading this article, it made more sense of what yoga and being pretty and beautiful really means. What I felt at the end of the yoga class was a sense of wellness, I felt healthy and my body felt at peace. I wish I realized this notion at that time. I now understand that being pretty and being beautiful necessarily mean creating beauty from the outside, but from within.

  21. Kaitlin V says:

    I’ve never had been considered a “pretty” girl, and I think I am okay with that. I feel good in my own skin now. As I forming for myself a body I consider beautiful, I am okay with not being perfect. I am glad that yoga was able to heal that sort of sense for you as well. It is unfair that we are held to the beauty myths that are unattainable for most people. It is up to the person inside to make themselves feel “pretty”, not a makeup campaign or runway show.

  22. Eternity Holloway says:

    I’ve always lived with the fact that I was not considered a beauty. But I never though t I was ugly, until after having my kids and gaining so much weight. Beauty and the media play such a big role in how I see myself. Society tells us that you have to be a size zero to be beautiful and anything over size 6 is FAT. I was a size 8 in my senior year until I was 19 and had my first child. I’m to embarrassed to say what my size is now, but I feel shame every time I look in the mirror and look at myself. I let my self get to this point and I can’t seem to drop the weight. I maybe haven’t tried hard enough. I’m at the point maybe surgery is what I need. My husband says I’m beautful and he loves the person I am and he finds me attractive still after 15 years together, but I know deep down he wants me to lose at least 50 pounds. He doesn’t find supermodels attractive and he doesn’t want me to be super skinny but maybe the weight I was when we got together couldn’t hurt. I’ve tried Yoga and I couldn’t do the moves. I have to do something for my self- esteem. It’s just hard when you see nad hear everyone say this is what beauty is and if you don’t look like this you are ugly.

  23. Kevin Moore says:

    I do not think looking pretty is good sign of how healthy you are, it can sometimes be the opposite. Girls are always told to be pretty, so this constant notion of influnces will make girls do things to themselves that are unhealthy to make them feel pretty. Again i feel that yoga can make some people feel pretty and it should be a good option for many people looking for this

  24. Candice G. says:

    I think out of all the articles I have read this is by far my favorite! Very well done and I want to like frame it and put it in my room, that’s after making copies and handing them out. Since when did being pretty mean that we were happy. I never remember seeing anything telling us this is what will ultimately give us happiness. What I have learned is that when I was at my skinniest ya I got attention and I liked it, but I am more happy now with my extra 25 pounds than I was then. I am quite happy with the person I have become and I honestly would not trade that for a pair of jeans in a size 2 for anything. I feel like so many people strive on being pretty to be happy, popular, and successful that they miss the fun and enjoyment of life. I feel like I have nothing more to say because all my feelings and beliefs are in this article and I love it!

  25. Maira Pacheco says:

    In my own opinion everyone is beautiful in their own way. One thing that I do have to admit is that we have all judge women by their looks. I also believe that there are on a few women that are attractive and that have a sex appeal. I myself have judged women by their looks and their body. I also believe that many people think beautiful women can be happier than those that are no so beautiful. I think they are wrong because they may have it all but the emptyness they have is always there. That will always interfere with them being happy. Whether pretty or ugly that does not guarantee happiness. They both can either be happy or unhappy. I am sure that men and some women like myself are “suckers for a pretty face”. Today I came to realize that beauty comes within. All those beautiful women out there can act dumb and most of them are ugly inside. I am also aware that beautiful women have many insecurities. I use to think that thick women were the only ones with insecurities, but I was wrong. Whether a women is thick or thin they all have insecurities.

  26. Angelica Oseguera says:

    As women we often see pretty girls as the ultimate catch, the pretty girl is everything and can have anything! Yet, what does it mean to be pretty. How do we determine what is pretty? As women we tend to spend so much time getting ourselves ready to look pretty. But what may be pretty to me may not be pretty to other people. Pretty is viewed in many different ways that to searching for the specific pretty look seems pointless. Every individual signifies beauty in their own certain way, it is a matter of accepting yourself with what you have to offer. Feeling at peace with yourself and not asking for more or comparing ourselves to other people. Does having the perfect hair, face and body make up happiness? Of course not!!! The individual with the most happiness is that one person who signifies her own person and does not get influenced by anything or anybody…

  27. Kayla Ainsworth says:

    I am all for this article and how yoga can make you feel pretty. People always make assumptions that beauty is always outside of the body; the physical features are what catches someone’s attention. With yoga you are in a state of mind where no one is pre-judging you based on how attractive you are. Yoga helps you find the inner beauty in you and once you know you are beautiful in the inside it shows more on the outside and that’s without using makeup or over the counter meds that make up a person appearance. You connect with your body, mind and soul that is why I love yoga, I come out of it feeling like a new person. This article only inspires me to continue with yoga so I become a better me.

  28. Analila B. says:

    I agree with most of the things that were mentioned in this article. The term “Pretty” is correlated with several positive words. For example, being pretty brings you a lot of benefits like being happy, love, good career, however, that is not always true. For the day we are little we learn that princess are pretty and they find their prince charming. But like you mention we have never seen an ugly princess, however, they did create Princess Fiona from the Shrek movies, but at the end she becomes a beautiful princess. In addition, all the girl toys that are being made now and days are thin, pretty and have curves. All this toys are giving young girls the wrong idea.
    In addition, the misconception that pretty women have a great and happy life is not true. Like Melanie mention those girls usually have a lot of problems with their body. They might be popular and have friends and be loved by others but they do not have any self love, which is more important. For instance, in the book Communion by Bell Hooks describes the importance of self love. I personally have done yoga for about a year and I absolutely enjoy it. After I am done I feel so relax and comfortable with my body. In my opinion, yoga is a great thing for women and teenagers to do to improve their self esteem.

  29. lucero Medrano says:

    whats my intent? My intent is to feel beautiful. Most of the time, “being pretty” is fun for those who can attain it. “pretty” means getting free drinks, and maybe an easier life. However, the road to being pretty can be a difficult one to stay on. To be pretty, a girl has to be thin and have perfect everythings. This can cause a disconnection within the body and the mind. Too often we hear about eating disorders affecting young girls because they have a disconnection with their body, mind and the media. The medias sends out these pictures that make women’s self esteem fall within seconds of seeing them. My question is why? why is there such a push to be “pretty”? every girl has to have an epiphany about themselves and their bodies. They have to be willing to see themselves in the proper light and to finally be at peace with themselves. This moment of realization can come about at any moment, eating something sugary, running or even doing yoga. Yoga is something that anyone can do. It is also something very soft and very intimate, but intimate within the self. The deep soulful breathing heals us as we push our bodies foward, and in this moment, our minds and bodies unite after years of separation. After that unison, a female realizes that she is in power of her body and her happiness; not her level of attractiveness.

  30. Brianna Davis says:

    I like this article and how it takes about being pretty and beauty. I notice that many people have different opinions. When people look at someone they can come up with millions of adjectives for this person. But, this is when the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes in play. Also the saying, “Beauty is skin deep”. These saying touch on this topic because nobody understands how much negative words or phrases can hurt someone. When calling someone “ugly” or “fat” or whatever the case maybe it will damage the person not on mentally but, physically as well. When I think about yoga all i can think about is the first day i went to yoga and was trying to concentrate on how to do the moves. I am very athletic and it was very hard for me. That is because yoga is not a sport it is a relaxing place to help your body. However, its not much relaxing when you only go for a few times because you not familiar with the words and so you look around to try and imitate the positions your body is suppose to be in. So, without having that much experience with yoga when i read this i do not understand how it suppose to make you feel beautiful. I am not to sure on how it suppose to make you feel better about yourself. Do you mean that when since yoga is a relaxation of the mind, you go into yoga and repeat to yourself positive words about beauty? Do you embed in your mind that “beauty is skin deep”? Yes, i agree that we do focus and rely on media and other things to let us know if we are beautiful or not. I also agree that beauty is not just an image and we need to focus on loving ourselves for who we are on the inside and the love for the outside will come natural. But, i am just really am missing a bit of what you mean about yoga and self-beauty.

  31. Jovanna G says:

    One thing I do agree with is that if you are pretty then more people will want to talk to you. I see this in Facebook were girls who are covered up will get at least one friend request while the one showing off her breasts will get at least twenty. Women have this believe is they are flirty and sexy then that will make them acceptable in a society where the media takes over the definition of beauty. I agree with Kest in that many women are believed being pretty is everything they should worry about. Being pretty will solve their problems many women face. However, we neglect our bodies because we compare ourselves to what the media tells us what is pretty leading to many celebrities changing who they are and going under the knife in order to look how they are photo shopped in many of the magazines. I have never taken yoga but after reading this I would really want to take a shot at it. Lately I have been battling about my body image and in trying to convince myself that it is not my body but the inside that matters. Yoga is the tool for that in order to understand you deeply rather than externally. We need to see that pretty is not happiness we need to realize that there are pretty women who are miserable. That is why I would like to take yoga because the battle I am having in being happy for who I am rather than how I look will end.

  32. Melody A. says:

    I really loved reading this article. When I was younger I started taking yoga classes and after just a few classes I felt very different. The practice of yoga helps you learn about yourself, your body and your mind. It lets you go deep within yourself and find peace and calm, while at the same time giving you a pretty good work out. I think that everyone should try a yoga class or two, I’m always encouraging my friends to come to classes with me so they could also share the amazing experience. I’m proud to say that my mom is now hooked on it, after I forced her to come to some of my classes, and now she attends as many classes as she can, she says that its better than any workout in the world. But aside from the exercising she says she loves that she is giving her body some time and respect. It’s truly a great feeling.

  33. I really enjoyed reading this article, because I do believe after taking a few yoga classes, they do teach about beauty on the inside. I believe that once you feel that peace and tranquility inside, it shows on the outside as beauty. I think that the media does unfortunately set the tone when it comes to what beauty or pretty is defined as. The way they show us what beauty and pretty is, unfortunately is something that cannot really be reached. The people that are able to reach something close to it, may have beauty on the outside, but have suffered inside while trying to reach those goals of what society tells us is beautiful. Just because someone is beautiful, doesn’t mean they are full of self-love and go to extremes as the article mentions in order to achieve something. I know of many girls that go through some really extreme beauty regimes or spend a lot of money on beauty items in order to try to achieve something that will never be achievable. If only they knew that just because the outside it ok, doesn’t make the inside ok. I agree that to be totally healthy it begins with the inside and shows on the outside. I will continue to attend yoga, because I would like to reach complete peace and happiness within while on my journey for self-love.

  34. Jessica E. says:

    I’ve take yoga classes before but I never had a full understanding of the art behind it until reading this post. I hadn’t made the connection between yoga and self-love before, as I considered yoga to be simply an instrument of exercise and meditated breathing techniques. I realize now the real and profound effects yoga can have on one’s self esteem. My next yoga class will be more greatly appreciated and I aspire to walk out of there with a new found feeling of self-love and acceptance at least marking the beginning of such a journey. And I completely agree with the statement that says that some of the most beautiful women have the most dysfunctional relationships with their own body’s and self-esteem. A friend of a friend of mine from high school was always envied by other girls, including myself, for her breathtaking beauty. But once I got to know her and learned about her relationships I felt nothing but pity. This girl is drop dead gorgeous but her self-esteem was so low that she allowed herself to be mistreated by her boyfriends as she went from one unhealthy relationship to the next. Once I became her friend I tried my best to help her stop the self-hating but my relentless efforts had no effect on her until she gained the strength to begin self-loving. That goes to show you that beauty isn’t at all about what we see on the outside, what good does it do you if you feel miserable about yourself on the inside. If yoga can help you embrace yourself and who you are in your own body then I encourage all to begin on the self-love yoga journey.

  35. Takisha B. says:

    Let me begin my saying, I wish I read this article prior to taking a Yoga class. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it or appreciated the experience more but instead I really did not enjoy taking yoga. Too often we focus on making sure our outward appearances are “pretty” enough to get a compliment, a phone number, a date, etc. We spend so much time trying to impress others with our appearance, that we forget to focus on our inward beauty; which ultimately affects our happiness. I am in no way conceited, but I will say that with my passion for fashion and love of hair, that I have received many compliments, many phone numbers and date offers. What i have noticed is that, such things attract the wrong people sometimes so it does not impact whether or not I am happy. I may feel and look good but know that it is not because I have low self-esteem, thus making me work hard at my outward appearance but rather I look clothes. I believe that beauty is within but I have to look presentable when I walk out the door but I ignore men that only compliment me for my physical appearances. I am confident in my outward and inner beauty. I have witnessed many beautiful women and handsome men drive themselves into eating disorders all because they were too focused on what people around them saw and not focused enough on the inside and their happiness. This is a great article and I believe people who are completely focused on their outward appearance should read this article. It definitely provides you with a new outlook on beauty both in and out. I hope that other women who are exposed to this article are as receptive and understanding as I was.

  36. I really enjoyed this article because it is something I can relate to. I constantly struggle with my body image and have as long as I can remember, all the way back to middle school and I am almost 24 now. I have always thought I was overweight and looking back to old pictures I hate myself for thinking I was overweight because I was not even close , but I struggle with it daily. You feel beautiful from the inside out. If you feel good on the inside that is all that matters, and if the outside follows than that is even better. I hate to admit my addiction to Pinterest but I recently stumbled across two X-rays. One was of an overweight woman that had completely healthy and functioning organs, while her comparison was of a 120 pound woman that had black lungs and was covered in disease. The point is the number on the scale does not reflect healthiness, happiness, or prissiness.

  37. H. Stevens says:

    The way women few themselves is so critical. Before taking a Gender and Sexuality class, i subconciously knew something was going on but could not figure it out and i am now fully aware of it- We are striving for a Beauty that is a total myth. Then why are we striving for it? We need something to meditate and bring us back into reality which is why yoga would be a positive exercise that can relax our brains at the same time. I am actually trying a class at my gym on saturday. We all strive for acceptance, perfection, and love. But we cannot have any of those if we dont have them with ourselves.

  38. Montana C. says:

    It’s one thing to be told that you are beautiful inside and out, but it is another thing entirely to feel it. When I was little and even know, people always called me “Snow White” because I’m pale and have dark hair. Friends and family often told me that I was pretty, but I was growing up in a dance studio and I definitely didn’t feel pretty. In fact I felt fat and was never happy about myself, criticizing my body endlessly in the mirror and eventually criticizing my own personalty, because I was starting to hate myself. This lasted for a long time and only grew worse as my body developed into a womanly shape. Even now, I watch that terrible show Dance Moms (purely for the choreography and to watch he skilled dancers) and I find myself envying a 10 year old’s body, because it is the “dancer’s physique.” Pathetic I know. I found this article was a great to remember that it is far more important to FEEL beautiful than look it. Maybe I should take up yoga or just start affirmations, but it is inspiring to know how amazing someone can feel about their body, especially when the rest of the world is so negative.

  39. Eternity Holloway says:

    I never was interested in yoga, but after reading this post I just might try it after I get my body back to the way I want it. It seems to be a great way to connect with my inner self and my own body. I always thought yoga was just for skinny girls who have the flexibility to do it and it was just a waste of time, but now I see it’s for everyone and it can actually help your body and help strengthen your mind and body. I’m going to give it a try and who knows it might even boost my self esteem and levels of energy.

  40. Destiny O says:

    I took a yoga class for a semester at a community college when I was in high school and I’d have to say that for those few months, I was the happiest with my body and myself then I have ever been. I took the class just to gain P.E. credits and I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t expect to take it seriously, but a few weeks into the class I realized how amazing yoga really is. I felt that it was so amazing because my teachers (there were 2 ladies) would have us focus on certain parts of our bodies that we have never focused on before. In the mainstream for women all exercising is about your butt or abs, but there are many other parts of your body that need your attention too and yoga made me realize that health and working out should be about your whole body and your state of mind rather than getting a tight butt and abs for someone else’s pleasure. Too often we do things for others, like dieting in hopes of finding a man, but yoga is about doing something for you. Anyone that asks for my opinion about yoga, I tell them that it’s great for mental and physical health.-D.O.

  41. I feel that it is very important to start from within to find that inner source of tranquility, sense of stability, and personal fortification. I mean seriously, no matter how beautiful the façade of a building may be, without the proper foundation it is bound to crumble. Surely, beginning from within, considering healthy eating habits and exercise with regard to balance in all aspects of life, social, and personal. I find that in this society we are consistently pitted against others in competition, whether it be in the classroom seeing another’s good scores, or comparing one’s own achievements to another’s in the work place, we tend to be our own worst critics. This selection really brings me to focus on how important it is to consider that I am an individual who is not defined by the world around me, but one who partakes in and is influenced by the environment that encompasses me. In order to live, and not just merely live, it is integral that I be in touch with myself, my spirituality and really let go of societal stigmas, relinquishing the process of cultivation by which has become a vice in many people’s lives.

  42. I guess I never thought about yoga itself as an outlet for the beauty myth, but after reading this article I realize that it is. The image of yoga draws to mind a healthy, thin woman who not only looks beautiful by conventional standards, but also is the epitome of health and happiness. I enjoyed hearing about this yoga teacher who told his students to focus not on the usual body areas that are considered attractive when well-sculpted, but instead on areas of the body which are not usually thought about when wishing to change or modify one’s body. I think the fact that the concept of beauty is so prominent in our society is extremely important because frankly, without conventional beauty standards, things such as yoga would not exist in the first place. Furthermore, it is important to note that a person who looks beautiful is not necessarily happy or at peace with his or her life. Our intense focus on image and outer-beauty is a huge problem that will only go away when we make sure everyone recognizes that this is in fact the opposite of happiness and a healthy life.

  43. Thank you so much for this post! Yoga has always scared me, I guess because then I have to really reconnect with my body. But after reading this post it made me want to give it a earnest shot at trying yoga. I rather feel beautiful than look pretty. I do believe the beauty comes from within. If you have any suggestions for yoga places in NYC, please let me know! thanks xoxo ellese @ http://www.elleselauner.com

  44. Almost every woman I know has an issue with their body, including myself. We are never satisfied because our idea of the “perfect” body is impossible. I absolutely agree with your statement that most of the beautiful women you know have had eating disorders or are just plain unhappy. For all of us who want to be pretty and believe that we are not, we are alienated from this “other” who really does not exist.

  45. Yuliana R says:

    As a little girl I watched Disney movies were the prince charming rescued the pretty girl and she lived happily ever after. I envision myself as a Disney princess but as I grew up I learned that this is a myth. We look into the outside appearance and we judge people according to their looks, and we don’t have time to look into their feelings. I hope one day I make time for myself to learn yoga and practice it.

  46. Angelica E. says:

    Knowing that the media has so much influence on how we want to look, or what we think looks good, is really sad. It’s sad that the media defines beauty, that the images the put out there of beautiful is what beautiful is that what others think does not really matter. Sometimes I look at myself and look at the images society has accepted at beautiful and I think wow only if looked like that everything would be better. It’s sad that at times I feel this way but it’s the truth, because that is what has been defined as beauty. “What’s your intention? To look pretty or feel beautiful?” That there really makes me think. I can truly say that I rather FEEL beautiful than to look petty because no matter what I look like if I feel that I look good that is such a satisfaction. Feeling good or feeling beautiful is what will make the difference in my life. Many times, actually a lot of the times when people look themselves in the mirror they see something completely different than what they actually look like. So even if they LOOK pretty they don’t see that, so pretty is not good enough until you feel it.

  47. For a while I considered taking a yoga class to see what it is like. What stopped me? I felt yoga was for skinny flexible girls (which by the way isn’t me) and it did not help that I had gained weight from getting pregnant (six years ago). It is true we as women go through all these extreme measures to look and feel pretty. We spend sooooo much money investing in products which might be harmful to our body. For example makeup which might damage our skin, to spending so much on pedicures and manicures, to high heels that will eventually affect us in the future. We find different cultures where women are tortured because they find different things beautiful and we judge like for example in the culture where the women wrap their feet and bones are forced to be excruciated to the point where they can’t walk because they see small feet as pretty is crazy yet here we are wearing these hot sexy high heels even though they kill us after walking or dancing a couple hours. I am not going to lie I definitely do these things. After reading this post I will definitely make time to try out yoga soon.

  48. Lizbeth Hurtado says:

    Pretty is the word that not only women live by but men as well. This word influences our lives significantly and I agree with the post. Being pretty will open many doors for us, bring bigger pay checks, and allow us to gain power in some way or another. The power of beauty over ourselves is very important it shapes our self esteem and self confidence. Yoga is a wonder art that can safe us from destroying our inner body. The importance of our inner self is more important than our outer self. I have never practiced yoga myself, but I strongly believe it holds the power to safe our inner self. when my sister was struggling with anxiety and depression her therapist recommended yoga. She practiced it daily and the meditation that comes along with yoga helped her relieve the stress in her mind and soul. Ever since she lived through that experience I can strongly affirm that yoga is cable of saving of saving us from destroying and harming our bodies. As mentioned in the post the image of pretty is every where and it is impossible to just turn it off. Yoga can possibly be one of the solutions that helps us turn off that image for time to time.

  49. Adrienne S says:

    Yoga is such an amazing exercise because it does promote the inner beauty of peace and balance within one’s self. So often were trying to be pretty in the way that the media wants us to be, and by doing so usually destroying our inner beauty and happiness. I’ve met countless women who are gorgeous and yet they feel ugly because they’re not stick thin or have long, blonde hair like the images we see sometimes do. And yet doing yoga doesn’t take this into consideration. To feel good and comfortable with yourself is to be beautiful and in the best and most healthy way. Instead of going and working ourselves to death at the gym in order to lose the body fat that we feel makes us ugly, yoga helps us to feel good and work out at the same time. This is so helpful because if only women would appreciate their inner beauty as much as their outer beauty, they would be so much happier.

  50. Richard Escobar says:

    I was chubby for most of my life. I only recently lost all of that extra weight in junior year. Most of that weight loss was actually triggered by illness ( I lived on jello and soup for a week in a hospital, and literally could not sit up without feeling nauseous for almost a week and a half thanks to a spinal tap). Although the weight I lost was through unhealthy means, I decided that I wanted to lose all the unhealthy fat I had on me through healthy and active means. I began to jog, I started limiting my diet to exclude what I considered was far too unhealthy (my body is soda-free since January of 2010), and ate more of the good stuff. However, my goal now is too gain some sort of muscle on my body. I’m basically a stick figure. A healthy one, but still.
    Although I’m quite happy with the way I look, I must admit that I am still very conscious of my appearance. In a society that is constantly bombarded by images of beautiful people, it’s hard to ever be truly satisfied with the way your body looks. I’m worried that even if I do reach my goal, I will start to worry about some other aspect of my body. Maybe I will never be muscular enough to satisfy myself.
    I have gained a lot of confidence from my weight loss, but shouldn’t I have been confident from the start? Why couldn’t I have loved my body then as much as I do now? I have never participated in any sort of yoga session, but I really want to now. It seems that yoga is a perfect way to get my mind off of constantly worrying about how I look. Even if I am working to add a little muscle definition to my body, I don’t want to think of it as something that I need to have, but as something that I just want to have. I want to think of it as an add-on, not something that makes me incomplete.

  51. Salina G says:

    I think as a girl growing up, we strive to be pretty. We are told we look pretty when we wear certain dresses or wear our hair in pigtails. I was told I was pretty often, but not beautiful. In fact, I wasn’t sure what beauty really meant. I learned on T.V. that beauty was skin deep and wasn’t sure what that meant until I became a junior or senior in high school. And it was then that I taught myself and others around me that looks will only get a person so far in life. I then noticed how men and women around me would use their looks to get what they wanted; sex, grades, attention, etc. And I wasn’t one of those women. I do agree that women think that just because they’re pretty they can get the better job, the wealthier man, the better looking man. I am anxious to find out what yoga can do for me; body and mind. Something to remember, “cut to the chase and get to what makes us feel good”.

  52. Mohit Sharma says:

    The idea of “if we are pretty we will be happy” seems false to me. As cortisone (making fat) is produced when we are stressed and un happy, so it seems that it is the opposite, being happy would produce being pretty. When we are happy our skin glows and we smile which invites people to smile back. We need to achieve happiness and healthiness. This balance is something that Yoga can give you, and many use to try to find that balance. I would like the add that while the body battle is majorly fought in the female gender it is often missed in the male gender. With the media today, many men are faced with needing the perfect “ripped” body. A guy who has a six pack and arms that are like rocks are preferred. These unrealistic media sponsored views of men and women don’t make for happy viewers. Often women fall back on eating disorders such as bulimia, which is actually becoming a popular male disorder as well. Its true and sad that people attractive people are using dangerous and unhealthy means to achieve that pretty happy feeling.

  53. Natali F. says:

    Reading this blog of you made me think a lot. It is very true on how pretty is defined in people’s eyes. I totally agree on how being pretty doesn’t mean you have a perfect life, having luxury to anything you want, having more dates, it’s how confident you are, and having a high self-esteem of yourself. There are many people who feel good about themselves and have no probably getting all those things, but those who think being pretty might result in having a miserable life. I never knew that yoga can have the effect on someone; it surprised me on how the instructor made you see a different perspective of body image. I liked how he said “Everybody wants to be pretty because that’s what they’ve been told will make them feel good, even though there’s no proof that people who are prettier are healthier and happier. So why don’t we just cut to the chase and go straight to what makes us feel good?” He also right on how we need to stop comparing ourselves to other people and love ourselves. It makes you really think who you are in reality and not what you want to be. I always thought of yoga being more spiritual in a sense, I never thought to think outside the box, and by reading this blog I might consider it seeing how it gave a positive effect in your life.

  54. Tina Brenner says:

    I choose to feel beautiful. When you feel good about yourself and are healthy, you project a positive image and that image makes you more beautiful to those around you. I know that when I am feeling bad or ugly, I look bad. When I am happy and feeling good about myself everyone seems to notice. They think I’ve lost weight, or got a hair cut and tell me I look great. The problem is that is VERY easy to feel bad about how you look because of the constant pressure to be “pretty”. I even notice my 10 year old daughter being extremely fashion sensitive and self-critical of her body and looks, when she is a beautiful girl on both the inside and the out.

    Note on yoga: It is funny that my 20 year old son just downloaded yoga videos from you tube and suggested that we start doing it together, before I read this article. I am going to do it with him so we can work on ourselves together and I am going to share this article with him because men have a lot of pressure to look “pretty” too!

  55. Jennifer H. says:

    I agree that “pretty does not necessarily signal a healthy body” because when I was in middle school I would get a lot of comments from other girls stating: “I wish I could be pretty and so skinny like you.” I was really thin and others would tell me it is so great to be petite, but in reality I was at a very unhealthy weight. I ended up in the emergency room at the age of thirteen for dehydration and malnutrition. I could not even run for a short amount of distance without becoming very agitated. Therefore, when I was laying in the emergency room I thought to myself how all I did to be considered “pretty” was costing me my life. On the other hand, my older sister was at a healthy weight and she was constantly criticized until the point that she developed bulimia for several years before she ended up in the hospital, as well. This goes to prove how in our society women’s bodies are constantly scrutinized and criticized to the point where women cannot even feel comfortable in their own skin and end up in the hospital or worse- dead from malnutrition. I enjoyed reading that your yoga instructor told students to stop comparing themselves to others and “detach from the artificial images in our minds,” because this is exactly what needs to be accomplished to reduce anorexia and other eating disorders rates. Otherwise, girls and women- and even men- can begin a path towards an unhealthy lifestyle based on the artificial images and messages the media provides us with.

  56. Allena,

    I appreciate your comment, but I stand by my statement. Yoga doesn’t make you pretty by cultural standards. My Yoga is about feeling beautiful, not appearing beautiful. Yoga is about creating wellness within, which may manifest changes externally but it is certainly not the focus or goal. I know plenty of “pretty” people who have body image issues…women who have altered their breast size through cosmetic surgery, women who go to painful lengths to match the ideal…and do. But their pursuit is not about wellness or health. The goal is aesthetic.

    I am by no means arguing that yoga doesn’t and can’t produce results like those you’ve listed. In my own journey, I lost 30 pounds after yoga changed my relationship with my body and I approached it with love and kindness. But my goal wasn’t weight loss. My goal was acceptance…once that it occurred, it radiated out. Perhaps, you misread or misinterpreted my piece. I was only writing about yoga–not running, not taking fish oil supplements or sun exposure. That may occur as a result of creating a relationship with your body, but those things aren’t yoga. Yoga is about quality of mind. Yoga is about unity with the body you live in. For me, that was a huge shift from the old paradigm that had guided my interactions with my physical self–a paradigm rooted in control, punishment and guilt.

    I hope this comment offers some clarity. I don’t necessarily disagree with you, I just feel you missed the point of this piece.

    Thanks,

    M

  57. This constant notion that being better looking will lead to a better lifestyle is outrageous. We are all born in different shapes, colors, and sizes, so why do we have to follow one image to enjoy our lives? What bothers me most in my daily life is when the media constantly pushes the diet habit. Why do women and men have to starve themselves, or over-eat in order to be socially acceptable? How come we can’t just eat healthy so we can live longer? I found that adding exercising to my daily routine really helps me build motivation for a healthier lifestyle, but not by bulking up and fitting the medias image of a muscular male, but by running on the treadmill and getting my blood rate up in order to live a healthier life. Recently, my sister and I have been going to the gym and sharing exercise routines with one another and she told me that she has been taking yoga lessons at a studio nearby and that she really enjoys it. I never really thought of yoga as an exercise, rather I thought it was just stretching routines on a mat, but after reading this article it seems to be a great morale booster and self-confidence workout. I think I should try to go soon with my sister and see if it fits my lifestyle.

  58. Jessica Serrano says:

    My intent is definitely to feel beautiful. I know I have trouble with looking in the mirror and criticizing the way I look or comparing myself to those models or actresses who are considered “pretty” or “beautiful.” But, what about what I think is beautiful? I know when I look in the mirror it is about how I feel and learning to say, “I look pretty today,” or knowing that who I am is what makes me beautiful, not how I look. Reading about the yoga instructor who helped Melanie, gave a good insight to see and appreciate the things that are not normally taken into account in society. I believe that if we can all do this we can truly appreciate who we are as human beings and truly feel beautiful.

  59. “even though there’s no proof that people who are prettier are healthier and happier”

    Here’s the thing: I think you’re wrong.

    Barring serious diseases like bulimia and BDD, which are rare in comparison to general population, taking very good care of yourself (health wise) DOES lead to “beauty” (and I’ve got beauty in quotes because isn’t beauty subjective? So I’m going with the culturally-accepted view here).

    Things like eating well- antioxidant-rich food, low fat, good fat fish- lead to thinness. Ok, so that’s not automatic “beauty” at ALL, but culturally…it’s a start. Then, add in taking care of your body through running, yoga, and you develop the cultural standard of muscle definition, lack of bulges…. Then, think about staying out of the sun=less wrinkles and dark spots. . .

    Two ways to support my thought “beauty does help happiness”:
    1) Anecdotal. I lost 30 pounds (which is a lot on a short person) 3 years ago, and my life changed dramatically. I was treat differently by acquaintances, strangers. I had more confidence. I said YES let’s take a photo. YES let’s get in the pool. Etc. It was a wonderful quality of life difference.

    2) Research. It’s your blog, but I feel that if you’re going to say “there’s no research that provide evidence” you should be very, very sure. I think there is evidence in the research. I think it’s perhaps not in total and without a doubt proven, and perhaps it’s still in the throes of being replicated/dis-proven, but “no evidence” is incorrect.

    https://webspace.utexas.edu/hamermes/www/HappinessBeauty.pdf

  60. Julianne Insogna says:

    It is true that beauty is praised very highly in our society. Even amongst me and my friends, I can recall countless times where we have said, “She’s so lucky; she’s so pretty” or “She’s so unfortunate; she’s so ugly”. However, I now realize how ignorant of me it was to have made those comments. Why is she so lucky? Why is she so unfortunate? There are so many factors that go into a person happiness and well-being other than what is on the outside. How do we know the pretty girl is lucky? Is it because she is dating the football star? Looking back, I feel extremely ignorant having made those comments because in reality, an outsider really doesn’t know what is going on in that individual’s life. Although she is pretty, she could also be facing horrendous challenges, such a bulimia, and in fact, is extremely insecure and overly-critical about herself. We are much too focused on image, rather than focusing our attention on ways to increase our own self-love and self-compassion. There is no research that provides evidence, linking beauty with an increase in happiness. In fact, unless one truly knows the individual, or sometimes not even then, there is no way to prove that prettier people are happier or vise versa. However, if one wants to work on his or herself, yoga is an excellent way to help do so.

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