The Elle Macpherson syndrome and the walking dilemma

I'm an observer. And Ayurveda is but a system of comparison. The more people you observe the more you have an opinion on what different qualities look like. And so I noticed a curious thing, having had the opportunity to live in the US and Australia, women walk differently in both countries.

Let me explain.

I started to notice that in Aussie land we had lost our hips, or rather our waists had thickened and along with that our walk had changed gait. I call this the Elle Macpherson symdrome, namely, small bottom, large shoulders. We thought it was the bees knees to adopt the Amazonian stature back in the 90's and I find it kind of curious that it might have changed the way the Aussie woman sees herself.

I only noticed this as I had a comparison of living in the US. The women were more hour glass shaped. When I think of the core difference in diet I consider Australia more a savoury type country (think vegemite) and the US sweet (think peanut butter and jelly/jam), comparing childhood comfort foods to each other. With understanding Ayurveda a little more, I started to think on the qualities of salty (fire and water), and perhaps attributing to the thicker waist (debilitated liver) and the sweet qualities (earth and water) of heavy and dense attributing to more obesity.

And looking closer at the difference I noticed that we both walk differently. Aussies tend to adopt more of a "corporate" walk - the hips remain rigid as the knees and front thighs take on the bulk of the movement. We walk in a straight line, on the balls of our feet, determined, forward, and direct. Our counterparts do the variable hour-glass swing with the hips swaying from side to side.


I started to practise this myself and here's what I noticed - my hips gained their full rotation, I could actually feel them loosening up as I walked and unlocking tight areas. I used the total breadth of my foot, from heel to toe in order to access the back of my leg. Now I propelled from the back of my thighs and my buttocks and so relieved the knee area which is a joint and not to be relied on too heavily. I could also feel movement in my side waist and the muscles rotated my hips. 

In all, from my feet to my waist I had a total lower body workout and it was effortless. Walking became an activity that gave me energy rather than exhaust me.  The backs of my legs and but tightened and so did my side waist. My lower back eased up and my hips felt loose and open. 

Think Marilyn Monroe.

Interestingly when I included the walk in my yoga class, I noticed how shy we become in swinging our hips! Yes we don't like to be show offs here and this can take some practise so I recommend doing it in private until you get the hang of it and then you will get your own natural rhythm going, so it's a little more subtle and not so "out there". 

Classic Aussie babe. may not work for all body types.

Classic Aussie babe. may not work for all body types.

Alignment should begin in everything you do in a day. When you walk right, you will notice that you gain power in your legs and hips and therefore ease the pressure off your neck, since the energy is coming from the back of the legs and not the knees. Your waist will tighten naturally and your balance will improve from stronger feet. The women in India walk, squat and carry their babies and they seem to be gorgeously proportioned. 

Bring back the hourglass figure. It's nature's balancing act.


Sandra Radja

Established in 2012 The She Oak aims to provide healing through diet and lifestyle counselling as well as educational programs. I believe in teaching others to not only know their inherent constitutions that will best serve them but also how to help themselves should they mis-align with their true nature. Ayurveda treats the individual not the disease.