Bad Posture

„Child, you have bad posture!”

“Hold yourself more upright, you will have so many problems with your back when you’re older!”

“Don’t slump your shoulders, it’s unattractive!”

“You’re tall. Don’t try to be on eye-level with everyone else!”

I’ve heard these and a thousand other sentences like them when I was a kid. I’ve heard them from my parents, from my friends’ parents, occasionally even from strangers. And I’ve tried. Oh believe me, I’ve tried. Because, you know, they were grown-ups. Grown-ups are always right and you do what they say. But it never worked. My posture never got better and the first time I had a near miss with a herniated disk was at age 21. So yeah, my back took offense.

Back then, it seemed simple. I was too tall. It was another failure on my part that I couldn’t keep my spine straight (it’s the wrong moment for bi-jokes here, my dear friends!). Another thing were everything was wrong with me, with the fact that I liked to be alone and read and watch TV. If I was only sportsy or applied myself more or whatever else, I wouldn’t have failed everyone with my bad posture like I did.

It occurred to me only very recently that that was bullshit. That not once in all these long lonely childhood years did anyone ask me:

“Why are you slumping your shoulders? Why are you making yourself smaller?”

If someone had, it might have occurred to me even back then that I was trying to take up as little space as possible. That I was trying to make myself smaller to present less of a target. I didn’t want to be on eye-level with my peers. I wanted to be smaller than them, so that they would overlook me and stop torturing me.

I’m not saying one question would have saved me. It’s unlikely I would have answered. But it would have been nice. One question about why my doodles turned all my work sheets into graveyards instead of just a “that looked better before”. One question about why I wanted my jeans washed so often instead of just a “don’t be such a princess, you’re wasting water and the jeans wear down too quickly”. One question. Maybe it would have saved me.

Maybe it will save someone else. If you ask. Go ask. Have the courage. Don’t assume. Ask.

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2 thoughts on “Bad Posture

  1. This post was a revelation … In my late 20s I started suffering from upper back pain caused by years of bad posture (and now lower back pain from stress, but that’s another matter!). But I never thought about why I started slouching or why no one’s admonitions to stop were so unhelpful.

    My baby sister is in her early 20s and slouching like me. You can’t tell her what to do but maybe I can ask.

    1. Thank you so much for writing this to me. It makes me very happy that my post could give you something and that it is nudging you in the direction of asking your sister about her life. You are wonderful and thoughtful and courageous! ❤

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