Stand Up Straight

One advantage to maintaining friendships with people whom I went to high school with is that they have been able to see me blossom over the years. The disadvantage is that they remember me from high school. Was anyone really their best during those years?

One of my friends (the one who was my moral support at my conversion interview) periodically reminds me of how I wore out a videotape of Dirty Dancing when I was a junior in high school. I remember that time period (and the movie!) really well.

Dirty Dancing Movie Poster

The first time I saw it, one line stuck out in my mind because of how foreign it sounded. No, it wasn’t any of the normally quoted lines. It was, “Baby, stand up straight.” I had never been told that before in my life. Posture wasn’t a thing to nag about in my family.

It was not until I started to dance that I started to understand exactly what it meant. I had a lot of learning to do simply to figure out what the goal was. It was hard for my brain to accept that once everything was in line, it took less effort to keep it there than the distorted body line I’d carried myself in for a lifetime.

Once I started to comprehend what should be going on with my back, the neck issue arose. From Flowers in the Attic (yes I am an 80s child), I had learned about neck chords on ballet dancers.

Flowers in the Attic

What the book didn’t explain was that they naturally stand out on the neck if it is aligned with the rest of the spine. Most of us spend our lives with our necks jutted forward. It’s much less strain to have everything be all in a row.

All of this is at the forefront of my mind now because I’ve realized I am losing my postural gains. While never close to attaining the ideal posture, I had worked so hard to get it so my collar bones were either level or on a good day angled slightly downwards. My neck chords were always visible, and being in alignment felt normal.

Without daily reminders, that skill is trying to slip away. A couple months ago I noticed it took a great deal of mental effort to keep my shoulder blades flat against my back. My head was once again jutting forward.

This was worth fight for. I created mental postural checks – every time I get up to go to the copier or whenever I’m on my walks I mentally check my body position. I make sure my shoulders aren’t continuing their elicit relationship with my ears.

The constant checking is beginning to bring results. I rarely catch myself severely out of whack when I’m moving. Sitting is a challenge for another day.

Was posture emphasized while you were growing up? or How strange is it that neck chords are what I remember from Flowers in the Attic?

2 thoughts on “Stand Up Straight”

  1. Out of all the lines in that movie to remember…I think I’ve seen that movie once with an ex-girlfriend, but I guess most guys really don’t get into that movie. There are some good quotes from it, but I can’t remember the one you mentioned. I do agree that standing up straight is important. I learned that one later in life, but it helped boost my confidence. It’s that whole weird connection between body language and self-image thing.

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    1. I also have found that simply by properly aligning myself I fell more confident. I think part of it is that it is taking on a more authoritative stance, and I think it also has to do with getting enough air: Standing up straight allows for a full breath.

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