How Yoga Makes You Pretty

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?

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 June 1, 2012 (pre-order here). An earlier version of this post was published at Adios Barbie and on Elephant Journal.

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About Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein is a writer, speaker, and professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Santa Monica College. She is the adviser of the Santa Monica College Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and founder and co-coordinator of Women, Action + Media! Los Angeles. Melanie attributes feminism and yoga as the two primary influences in her work, and is committed to consciousness-raising, promoting media literacy, healing distorted body images and cultivating healthy body relationships. Founder of the blog FeministFatale, her work may also be found at Adios Barbie, Elephant Journal, Ms. Magazine’s blog, WIMN’s Voices, and the forthcoming anthology, 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice.

Comments

  1. I ended up with a close friend of my Dad's having a conversation about "makeup" when I was like 6 years old. He brought me aside and said "Poonam a girl's beauty comes from the inside why do you wear makeup", my Mom used to dress me in the cutest outfits and then put on makeup(not my choice). I have never ever worn makeup in my life after that Life Lesson. Have not found any issues with not wearing makeup. Recently I have taken up a lot of healthy eating(avocado, nuts, saffron) and meditation somehow between all that my skin has gone through a self repair of its own and does glow, I have been complimented on the skin tone. So it is an overall self-healing process, Yoga, meditation, good natural Life Source foods that are good for our body, spirituality too to have a deep self-esteem.

  2. 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 beautiful 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.

    1. etnightmare1204, I just read your post since this blog was posted again. There is an advice that Dr. Deepak Chopra had just reiterated on Super Soul Sunday on OWN(Oprah Winfrey Network) it is actually in his book the Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desires. The advice is you look at yourself in the mirror and look into your eyes and say the following 3 statements, 1.) I am independent of the good or bad opinions of others, 2.) I am beneath no one 3.) I am fearless in the face of all challenges, and wait until your eyes light up. Do it as you pass by a mirror everytime, watch out for a week or 2 and see if that makes a difference. If you notice that automatically you start to make better choices in eating foods and exercising and slowly taking up the Yoga moves. I had started last year slowly with maybe replacing just my lunch with raw fruits(more a time issue) and then gave up soda then gave up gluten(so it is much easier to say no to that cupcake, or pizza, or pasta etc white flour and white sugar) now I have given up milk and milk products). I have a certain amount of flexibility but not as much as a 10 year old so I do the moves as far as I can take them, then over a period of time they get better and better. Good Luck!

  3. 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 & hear everyone say this is what beauty is and if you don't look like this you are ugly.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.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.

  6. Although it is almost abuse of such a cultured and ancient art, using yoga in order to look more "beautiful" is something that even I am guilty of. I came into yoga thinking it would relax me and give me the nicest body all at the same time. I took a power yoga class during high school and it was brutal. I came out of that class each time sweating and panting. My body changed, but I did not feel any better internally. After some really deep thought on this matter, I decided to focus on the meditative and daily aspects of yoga that I could incorporate into my daily life. I never thought that meditative yoga could play such an important role in making me less stressed until I practiced it for a while. I have noticed a large change in my perspective towards my own beauty because now I don't feel as though I'm making as many mistakes due to stress and anger. I am nicer to people and nicer to myself.

  7. I can identify with this article in a number of ways. First, I constantly judge myself based on what other people expect me to look like and the way I see other people. I have animosity towards other women (whom I may not even know) that have nicer bodies and more money. However, like this article states, there is nothing that proves prettier people are happier. Happiness depends on how you make yourself feel. It is unfair to put yourself down. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be any other person other than myself. This realization is something many people cannot grasp. Our society has created so many ways to alter our true selves in order to make us “happier”. In reality, what needs to happen is self acceptance and self love.

    I also agree with the fact that there are “disgruntled, unsatisfied “pretty people” with low self-esteem”. The prettiest people are the ones who love and appreciate themselves first. From the outside a person can look gorgeous, but if they are unsatisfied with who they are, they might keep striving for perfection—but really, there is no perfect.

  8. How we gauge physical attractiveness has changed and will continue to change over time. In order to cultivate an authentically empowering and sustainable sense of self-worth and self-love, we must learn to appreciate and practice appreciating ourselves from within. This must be done over the clamor of outside voices that, by their very external nature, can never know each of our own fiercely unique and beautiful gifts. We're snowflakes–get with the snowflake-appreciatin' program or hand your power over to everyone but yourself!

    –the Healthy Bachelorette (www.facebook.com/healthybachelorette)

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. I can honestly say I have always been thin growing up, but once I got married, and got pregnant with my daughter everything changed. After my daughter was born that’s where my anxiety began, and that’s where I started stressing about my body. I stated taking diet pills, stressing, starving myself, and overly obsessed with weighing myself everyday and night. After I lost all my weight, and looked like what I wanted to, I thought that would be enough, and I would be happy. But in reality it wasn’t, I was still obsessed. I still weigh myself twice a day, and try to keep my eating to a limit. The first time I took a yoga class, was when I went in for an extra credit assignment for my Soc 324 online class at CSUN, and right after the presentation, I attended a free yoga class. That was my first yoga class, I was a bit lost in the beginning, because I thought we would do as an instructor does, but instead we closed our eyes and fallowed the voice, and did as the voice had said. I can honestly say that was the first time I felt free, and free of all the stress I have about my issues, and anything related to my body and anything else in general. I felt free. Since that day, I talk about my experience with a lot of my friends, and we have been taking classes, and haven’t felt this great about ourselves as we do now. My husband even sees a different towards my attitude, and how relaxed I feel , rather than talking about weight all day long.

  12. 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.

  13. 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, 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

  14. society has created a group group of people that use others as measuring sticks. While reading the comments before mine, I noticed how the article has reached people who are adversely affected by this phenomenon. It it great that there are people out there like Melanie that are encouraging these women to move beyond the negative feeling they hold about their bodies. Through yoga, meditation, and or simply a healthier life style, alot can be changed about the way we feel physically about our bodies. These healthier practices improve health in a way that is not as torturous as strict diets and extreme work out routines, which tend to fail, making us feel worse about ourselves.

  15. I have never had the words for it, but I have been waging a war on my body since I first heard that I had baby fat and "child-bearing" hips. I had surgery in December and for some reason during my recovery I gained weight. I only weigh 100 pounds, so it was wanted…. But to be honest, when I went up a jean size… I started freaking out and wanting my skin and bones back. Needless to say, the war is still on and I am back down to my 105 ounds….. I hope that I beat society's pretty and start loving me!

  16. 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. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Part 2:
    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 dumps 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. I have never taken a yoga class before but after reading a couple recently, including this one, I am starting to consider taking some classes. The media is always displaying what our society is supposed to think is beautiful or handsome, and we're focusing on replicating them. Instead, if we focus on ourselves then we should be able to live happy lives. Pretty will buy us love, and what better to do than make yourself feel pretty. Yoga helps people rid of stress in their lives, and and gives an overall happy feeling for mind body and soul.

  24. Wow this article left me speechless. I myself always worry about looking pretty. From waxing my eyebrows, to wearing painful heels, and spending soo 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 definately 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.

  25. This article is true. If people’s desire to be good looking is to feel good, then why not skip to feeling good. Exercise should be there to be healthy and happy, not to try and achieve goals based on physically beauty. I try to eat right and exercise for health first, looks second. But happy people are just more attractive in general. If you are happy you will be radiant. Your happiness will lead to self-confidence and positivity. These things will just draw others to you. You do not need to be beautiful to feel good. People need to love themselves and find happiness and positivity in their lives to feel good. And having this outlook on life will only make you a better person and bring you more joy. I believe people who are kind and work hard will always get far in life. Love yourself, your body and mind, and you will find peace. Find peace and do right in the world. Happiness, feeling good, and good fortune will come to those people who do these things.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. Long ago I dared to try yoga, and concentrating that intently on connecting with my body and listening to what it was telling me was the first time in a long time that I could not hear my mind. The inner quiet I found from one session of yoga made me feel wonderful. I never went back though, with typical excuses that should not matter in the big picture of well-being. With continuous pressure to always hate my body, actually making peace with it might change our relationship altogether. The discovery of a genetic disorder and several injuries later and I’m thinking I’m ready to go back.

  30. 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!

  31. This article, by far, has been one of the most inspirational things I have read in a a long time. Many women struggle with self-esteem and their body image, and sometimes, it is safe to say that striving for beauty is something that majorly consumes the minds of many. I know that as a fact, I’ve struggled with the definition of beauty. What is beauty? Is it what is conventional? Is true beauty defined by the media? Is our happiness ultimately up to how much we weigh, and how much makeup we wear and the shoes we have on? It is easy to get sucked into this false image of beauty when almost all the time, women are concerned in the way they look, in hopes of finding a companion, or getting a better promotion, or in hopes of being an overall more happy person. But I like that this article blatantly challenged the concept of beauty. Beauty is something we should all define for ourselves. External beauty does not define the quality of someone’s character. It is merely a suit. Everyone is beautiful, just not everyone sees it. It is important to celebrate ourselves and to feel good about our bodies and our image within, before we go out and seek beauty from the outside. As stated in the article, there is no correlation between being pretty and being healthy and happy.

  32. 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!

  33. This is a great article. We are told being pretty is everything. Being pretty makes you more popular, successful, more friends and dates. So why wouldn’t you want to be prettier? In the blog it states how there is no proof that people that are consider prettier are healthier or happier. Yoga sounds like a very good exercise. It seems to be great for your mind, body and soul. I actually have just brought myself a yoga dvd but I have not had time to do it yet. Being pretty does not mean you have a healthy body.

  34. Pretty has been a 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 very 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!

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. Yoga has several benefits. Among all others, its added bonus is to make you prettier. No it doesn't necessarily mean looking physically beautiful. Rather it brings about spiritual beauty as you begin to accept your body as it is. Through yoga, you are one step closer to self-love because you leave behind criticisms about your body. Yoga lets your body do that talking and tells you what it finds comfortable. Yoga relieves depression, stress, arthritis, etc. Society has implanted in us that pretty makes us feel good. However, the cost of that pretty in the end doesn't feel good at all. But through yoga, one can feel good and feel pretty just be merely clearing their mind and accepting their body as it is.

  39. 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.

  40. Women are valued by their beauty. Reading the first paragraph made me laugh because seeing it written down is funny yet may girls believe it. I always looked up to Barbie. I wanted her nice breast and butt and wanted the perfect relationship with ken. In order to have this relationship, I thought I needed the perfect body and face. I never felt satisfied with my look. There was always someone prettier and with a nicer body. I used to try crazy exercises that friends suggested would make my breast grow. No matter what amount of make-up I had and the amount of clothes I bought me never felt beautiful. What really should matter is inner beauty and spirituality, loving oneself. Yoga helps accomplish that. Yoga relaxes and diminishes stress. I did yoga for a year in middle school. That year I got the best grades out of all three years I spent in middle school. That hour that I was in yoga class I felt uplifted. Girls have unhealthy habits in order to stay “beautiful.” If people saw the vomit, a bulimic woman threw up, they wouldn't think she had a perfect body anymore

  41. It is definitely true that there is false belief that being pretty will give you love and power. Television shows and movies have made people think that they will get whatever they want if they look a certain way. People find love and gain power for other reasons than just being pretty. We see advertisements that make pretty people look so much happier, but just as this blog says, advertisements sell lifestyles. It is only recently that I have come to learn this, and I have realized just how true it is. This affects the way we see our lives and ourselves. Poor self esteem is too common. I think it is great that women can find a happier self through yoga, and I myself have found yoga to help me in many ways in my life. The quote from Bryan about “cutting to the chase” is really so true and something everyone should know. Our obsession with being pretty is ridiculous. In the end, our looks do not determine our happiness. I recently attended a yoga class which made me feel so much happier and gave me a better outlook on life and myself. My intention is to feel beautiful.

  42. I go to Bryan Kest yoga classes as well and have truly benefited more than I would have ever thought from them! I have always been athletic, being a soccer player for many years, and an avid cross country and long distance track runner for even longer, but I never considered any other kind of healthy exercise such as yoga. When I finally talked myself into going to a yoga class, it was at Bryan Kest's Power Yoga and since then, I have found a new form of relaxation and comfort within myself. When I started going to yoga, I was going through a rough time, and as well as starting yoga, I also stopped drinking just to further focus on myself and cleanse my body; I went through a total transformation when I first started regularly practicing and think that it was one of the best decisions I ever made! In the classes, I never feel judged and ALWAYS leave feeling so amazing about myself and my yoga practice.

  43. The problem our society faces right now with being "pretty" is the fact that we as a whole care to much about what people say and most importantly what the media says. We let others define what pretty is and what makes us happy, instead of accepting the beauty we have and the things that make us happy.

  44. I don't think there is a single woman who doesn't strive to be pretty, nor is there any man who doesn't strive to become handsome. I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to be pretty or handsome, but the way society portrays beauty makes it into something that is impossible to achieve. It lures women and men into splurging their hard earned money into things that won't help them achieve this ideal beauty. When a person does yoga, or simply meditates in their spare time, they are able to have time to think about things they do, and relieve stress. It allows you to notice many things about your body and be happy about it, which eases your mind. I believe everyone should try it once in their lives, including men.

  45. It is not good that actually recently Yoga is just considered to be one of the way to lose our weight effectively.
    The ultimate goal of many training like Yoga is develop our mental, and get thin is just one of subsidiary effect.
    Body beauty is limited, mental beauty is forever until die, over even after the death.
    When I do work out, my purpose is not only losing my weight but have a time for daily self-reflection.
    I even bought many work out machine in my home so do not compare my body to others to get stresses, but fully enjoy my time that not only make my body 'healthy', but mental too. Since I love the quote, "Be a person who looks like a flower. Not the shape, but the small."
    I know that building my mental stronger is much better than make my body thin.

  46. The emphasis on physical beauty by our culture is staggering. Everyday I deal with people who in one way or another are so intensely focused on their outside appearance that they are extremely stressed out. I have always been an insecure person and its definitely because I feel pressured to look a certain way by my peers and culture as a whole. One of my favorite things to do is exercise because at the end of a workout I feel healthy and strong…its not yoga but I understand the concept and I think its amazing to relish in feeling healthy and feeling beautiful without needing validation from anyone else.

  47. Personally I haven’t taken any yoga classes at all. I have heard of yoga and that it makes you feel good but I haven’t really gone into depth of the advantages of it. Now that I read this blog I can get a more sense of the benefits of yoga. It gave me more inspiration in taking yoga classes so I can have peace with in me and have way more self-love. Also, I can be able to define myself more and learn more about me in case there is some stuff I still haven’t figure out about me. So I hope I can eventually join it very soon.

  48. Pretty does not mean that one is happy in either a mental or physical being. A lot of my female friends are very pretty and they are not always happy and struggle with their everyday life to be the person who they really are not. Our media today release altered photos of perfect bodies and people that many people try to become. Even if one reaches the impossible and achieves this perfect body, the media doesn’t show what is under the body and if the girl is happy or not. Many of these girls tend to have physical and mental issues. Yoga seems to help all of this, and help achieve a great healthy body.

  49. as a society we are thrown at what beauty norms are. the media is everywhere we go to tell us what is beautiful and what isnt. when it comes to looking good beauty is pain right? so all those people who tan in tanning beds i hope it feels good to look good orange because the chances of you getting skin cancer are about 90%. we dont care about our health as long as we fit the beauty norm

  50. I don't think there is anything wrong with women trying to be beautiful or men trying to be handsome. It's just that society has turned physical beauty into something that is impossible to achieve. With advanced computer technology, companies are able to turn regular people into "beautiful" women with perfect skin, hair, etc. Yoga allows people to free their mind of stress, and clear their mind from many outside influences. After reading this article, i now want to try taking Yoga classes to benefit the mind, soul, and body.

  51. I too agree that "“Pretty” doesn’t necessarily signal a healthy body, mentally or physically." people can work out and eat little to nothing every day to look and feel "pretty", but that's not the healthiest way to go about making I think we need to learn take yoga as a way to channel out what the mainstream media claims is "pretty". finding that inner self-love within ourselves will help us feel more comfortable about our bodies, no matter what size or shape.

  52. Everyday i am amazed at just how much women and young girls are bombarded with images of what our society believes is the "perfect body". What strikes me the most about this article because it made me look back at when i used to play with barbies and watch disney movies. I remember having the idea wanting to have that faily tale life. As a young girl you dont think about the meanings about these dolls or movies. Now that i think about it there are no barbies that resemble the average sized woman. Most people begin to focus on outer beauty rather than inner beauty becasue of all the different images we are bombarded with and unfortunatly the results of this are health problems among women. After reading this ad i realized that yoga is not just about being able to relax but it can also help to cope with self esteem issues.

  53. I have taken two Yoga classes in my life time and would have to say it was one of the best fitness classes I have ever taken. It is more than just a workout it really relaxed my body and mind. Yoga is one workout that
    I did that I did not have to feel like I was competing with someone. All I felt in the Yoga class was being in peace mentally. I noticed that I focused on my workout better then working out playing basketball. Yoga was not about trying to score on someone or taking the ball away trying to go for the kill to win. Yoga was about healing the body physically and mentally. I would have to say it was the best workout ever. When the class ended I felt great that I got a workout that was peaceful rather than feeling that i had to go to war on the court.

  54. This was an interesting for me to read. When reading this article I found a deeper message in the text. By being pretty you are not always happy. It is like the saying money does not buy happiness, Being pretty might be helpful in finding friends does not always lead to happiness. My mom has tooled me countless stories of her friends who were so pretty but where never able to find true happiness in there life. She said that her friends did not do things that made them really happy. The importance of being beautiful is a cultural thing. No matter what you do be it exercising or whatever, if it makes you feel good and beautiful then you should do it no matter what anyone says.