My recent nonattendance in Pilates class has got me thinking a great deal about body image. As the Autumn starts to ebb, many of us start to think about the harvest of pumpkins and potatoes. Some of us even start to look like pumpkins and potatoes. And then there is Ruby.

A recent flurry of Facebook sharing brought ‘Ruby’ to my attention. I care little for fashion and makeup, so I would not have seen her otherwise. Ruby is The Body Shop’s rubenesque version of Barbie. She was debuted 15 years ago as part of a short-lived self-esteem campaign, “Know Your Mind, Love Your Body.”

Ruby made me wonder if I have been sending the wrong message to All Wellness blog readers. Posts like “One in Three Americans is Obese: You can Beat obesity, work out with a friend,” “Trying to Lose Weight? Size Matters. Try a Bigger Fork,” “Comfort Food: Why Fatty Foods are so Comfortable,” and “Let’s Move: Would you like fries with that?” might lead you to believe that I have been reading too many skinny girl fashion magazines.

Really, the opposite it true. But like many of you, I am not immune to the incredible pressure the media places on women, especially young women. I feel the same way about beauty and the fashion industry as Anita Roddick, the late founder of Body Shop, did:

“It makes me angry, not only because it is a male-dominated industry built on creating needs that don’t exist, but because it seems to have decided that it needs to make women unhappy about their appearances. It plays on self-doubt and insecurity about image and aging by projecting impossible ideals of youth and beauty.”

I find it appalling that our ideas of ourselves are still so often defined by attractiveness to sexual partners whose idea of beauty is defined by the media. This is why I so much appreciate my association with All Wellness and my nascent practice of Pilates.

The mission at All Wellness is empowerment. Their mindful fitness classes, physical therapy programs and Pilates classes are all designed to help you take control of your health and how you feel about yourself. Pilates, for example, does not necessarily change your looks as much as it changes your attitude. Pilates makes you feel better in the body you’re in.

The welcome message on the All Wellness home page makes it pretty clear: We invite you to take time for yourself, to develop a deeper awareness of your body and mind, and to foster an optimistic outlook on life, whatever your age, body type, or physical ability.

If you have not yet accepted their invitation, there is not time like the present.

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