Last week, I read Jennifer Aniston’s article on the Huffington Post voicing her anger at the media’s obsession with body image and its darker side, body shaming. Her passionate comments highlighted how pervasive this issue is in our society. She focused on the role that the media plays in perpetuating the myth of the perfect body. We don’t show images of what healthy really looks like, we show images of air-brushed, unrealistic bodies and call them healthy. This shaming isn’t limited to adults either: we have magazines that target girls ages 8-12 that have articles about how to pick a bathing suit to address body flaws! Let’s be clear though, this fault for this does not lie entirely with the media. We are all complicit: when we buy tabloids, when we judge other’s bodies and when we teach our daughters–outright or implicitly– that their looks matter more than their substance. This brings me to yoga. Yoga teaches us a lot about life. Balance poses require deep concentration – you can’t be planning your day while trying to balance on one leg. In balance poses, we find our balance, then lose our balance and then find it again. There is no such thing as perfect, ongoing balance. Rather, it is an ebb and flow of balance, loss of balance and re-establishing balance. In this way, it’s like life. We, both as individuals and as a society, need to find our balance again as it relates to body image. Each woman finds and loses balance in her body as she moves through different stages of life and hopefully finds it again in each new stage. Obviously, toddlerhood is literally about finding balance and learning to walk. Girls find a new strength in their body as they master all kinds of skills, physical and otherwise. Puberty is a destabilizing time as girls have to learn a whole new rhythm for their body. They have curves, hormones and begin to round out while at the same time becoming aware of what society is messaging about beauty. Finding and losing balance continues throughout life and is different for each woman: sometimes motherhood, sometimes illness, and for everyone, the aging process. This struggle is hard enough; society’s unrealistic expectations only makes it more difficult. We may not have the paparazzi following us, but most of us can relate to the struggle of trying to adjust to an ever changing body and seeing it reflected back to us in ways that make us doubt our beauty. As a mother of two girls, I want my daughters to know that kindness, compassion and joy are beautiful. I want them to know that being smart and being curious is beautiful. I want them to know that being strong, physically and emotionally, is beautiful. I have often thought that if women stopped worrying about those last 5 pounds, they would have the energy to solve larger problems in the world. What if we used that energy to change the conversation and insist on images that are a true reflection of health, both physical and emotional, and not an airbrushed fantasy? What if we stopped buying tabloid magazines and turned off the television showing celebrity news when the kids were in the room? What if we praised the women in our life, at every age, for their strength and kindness instead of focusing on appearance? Are you in?