Mary Jones, a new client, enters your salon for the first time. She is professional, reasonably attractive and has the usual concerns about her skin. But you can’t help notice she has poor posture.
Perhaps, like many American women, she has an exaggerated negative image of her body. Her poor posture makes her look heavier than she really is, and her rounded shoulders detract from her beauty and approachability. Seeing her, you would like to give her an action plan that will address all the issues that darken the radiance of her essential self.
Certainly, skin care is an obvious part of the solution–at the top of the list. However, how much more can you say to Mary without offending her? According to Vera Brown, owner/director of Vera’s Retreat in the Glen, Los Angeles, “No matter how beautiful you are, if you have bad posture it definitely detracts from your beauty.”
The evidence of self-esteem and body image is obvious in a person’s posture–so, do you say something to your client or do you give feedback in small doses as the professional relationship evolves? Or do you draw the line and only comment on issues that can relate easily to the skin? Do you pass the buck, hoping your client will get the information about posture from a chiropractor, personal trainer or massage therapist?
Most estheticians know posture is a significant indicator of stress level, skin condition and body image. Assuming that “body chemistry” includes references to hormones, blood and lymphatic fluids, as a healthier balance of body chemistry improves, then skin condition, posture, body image and self-esteem improve.
The good and the bad
Sit up straight! Don’t slouch! Put your shoulders back! Tuck that tummy in! We know that bad posture is bad and good posture is good. But what exactly is “good posture”? It is when your body’s weight is balanced evenly on its intended weight-supporting surfaces. These include the feet, knees, hips, spine, ribs, shoulders, neck and head. Some indications of good posture include: shoulders hang comfortably behind the rib cage; the top of the breast bone is mostly level with the top of the back; the waist is level front-to-back when standing; and the big toes point straightforward while standing or walking.
Poor posture is when the body frame is deviated away from its natural balance points and intended alignment. Some indications of bad posture can include rounded shoulders, sagging breasts, pouching tummy, neck jowls, facial creases and bunions.
Posture and flexibility
Under normal circumstances, the bones actually are designed to go into proper alignment, or good posture, the moment you sit or stand up, providing you are flexible enough for the balancing process to happen effortlessly. Without flexibility, forcing yourself to have good posture can be painful and hopeless. It is because of the emphasis on flexibility and body awareness that programs such as yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais and Alexander teachings result in good posture.
As an esthetician, you can help your clients by simply mentioning a flexibility class or teacher in your area, knowing that participation in these programs will ultimately improve posture, self-image and skin tone. Planting this thought as a seed is a gentle way to encourage clients to make good choices for which they will thank you.
“Posture tells me more of what’s going on emotionally with that client, which will guide me with how I’m going to work with her in treatment and with her skin,” says Vanessa Turner, head esthetician at Catherine Atzen Day Spa in New York City. “Poor posture tells me automatically that she is insecure, harboring mental or physical pain, and there are things she is unhappy or unsure about in herself. Good posture makes me automatically assume they are comfortable about themselves, living a healthy lifestyle, independent and comfortable with their atmosphere.”
Considering the importance of posture on the whole person, industry leader Catherine Atzen, director and owner of Catherine Atzen Skin Care Center in San Jose, California, says, “If a client doesn’t feel very good about herself, the skin and the posture are going to show it. A person whose shoulders are slumped forward typically has no eye contact, a lack of luster, poor blood circulation and poor lymphatic circulation. That person has less vitality. When people have less vitality, they have more cellulite and heavy leg problems.
The more energetic person will have better posture, more self-confidence, stand tall and look you in the eyes,” Atzen continues. “Blood and lymphatic circulation most likely will be healthier. That client also will have fewer problems with heavy legs and cellulite.? “
Spas throughout the United States and Canada are seeing people’s posture improve immediately following certain lymphatic drainage treatments, as fluids are eliminated from the body, especially in the derriere, legs and arms. Most estheticians relate the posture improvement to increased self-esteem. As your client’s body image improves, the image projected improves, and the client feels more attractive. The body’s system is balanced and cleansed, and the client has higher self-esteem.