(Photography by Kris Dahl)
The day I was able to look in the mirror without searching for a “flaw” or criticizing my body was the day I realized my relationship to my body had been radically transformed. Until that moment, I couldn’t remember a time since early childhood where I hadn’t engaged in some form of negative self-talk. And the key to this profound shift was the result of a consistent yoga practice that I was inspired to share with as many people as possible, especially others who, like me, battle with a distorted body image. Along the way, I have met other body image warriors such as Anna Guest – Jelley, founder of Curvy Yoga and my co-editor on the forthcoming anthology, exploring the connection between yoga and body image featuring 23 inspiring contributors, including Seane Corn.
Melanie Klein: Seane, Anna and I are thrilled to feature you in the upcoming anthology on body and image. Can you talk about your relationship to your body and your own body image?
Seane Corn: Like most young girls, I was very well aware that I didn’t quite live up to the standardized norms of beauty that were popular at that time, but it never overwhelmed my perception of myself or diminished my self-confidence the way it did with many of my friends. The standards of beauty at that time were white, thin, and ethnically neutral. Categories that I fit into because of my genetics. It was easier for me to feel comfortable in my skin and accepted in a way that my girlfriends didn’t, especially for those of color, disabled, or larger size who were rarely, if ever, represented in the fashion magazines. So although I never really had body image issues growing up, and I still don’t, what I am dealing with now as I grow older is an awareness of the rampant ageism that exists in media and the need to “hold back time” as if getting older was something to resist, be ashamed of and prevent. I can see the impact that this has on one’s self-confidence. I have been present to many conversations centered on the use of Botox, Restylane and even plastic surgery as a way to stave off the inevitable. The models and celebrities we see are more often than not airbrushed and altered in ways that are unrealistic and impossible to replicate, yet we strive to maintain this illusion of youth and struggle with allowing for the inevitable changes that take place as we age. I don’t want to buy into any of this. I think it is wonderful that I’m 47 years old and I’m still getting put on the cover of magazines. I love representing what a healthy 47-year-old looks like and I don’t want to be portrayed like I’m still 25. I earned this age and am grateful to still be in this body, and would like to role model aging in an empowered and unapologetic way.
MK: That’s what I love about you, Seane. You’re open, honest and real. A lot of women have a hard time with aging given the cultural focus on young and/or youthful-looking women. We rarely see women age publicly.
SC: I’m aware that at a certain age, women seem to simply disappear – we become invisible to society. As our body changes, we don’t get the same kind of attention, adoration, reverence or respect. It’s important that we develop our sense of self from the inside out and not allow our self worth to be determined by the way that we look or societies projection of beauty. It’s hard not to buy into it. It’s not the norm. This can only change when we chose to confront these standards by not acquiescing to them.
MK: You may be yoga cover model but, more than anything else, you’re also a role model for girls and women. In your unapologetic embracement of aging, you challenge these conventional and onedimensional images of beauty we’re flooded with in the mainstream media – and increasingly yoga culture. That’s no easy feat and it’s inspiring to see a strong woman swim upstream.
SC: As a yoga teacher and a public figure, I can feel a certain pressure projected onto me to fit into a particular ideal. There are expectations that I should have the same body I did 20 years ago. Although I’m aware of this, I remain confident in my body, and age, because of the work I have done in yoga and therapy over the years, as well as looking for role models in women older than me that honor a similar commitment evident in the way they live their lives, including Sharon Gannon, Beryl Bender Birch, Gurmukh Khalsa and even my own mother. Like them, I won’t allow someone’s projection to determine how I feel about myself. I know where my value comes from. I will never allow those 5 extra pounds or wrinkles to distract me from other work in the world that is so much richer and more important. I won’t allow it to impede me from being bold, strong and vocal in the world. I am comfortable in a society that tells me that I shouldn’t be – and that’s powerful. My hope for all women is that we transform beauties norms by being and representing fully who we are- regardless of size, shape, color, ability and age- with confidence, self-acceptance and celebration and not succumb to being seduced by ideals that are physically impossible and emotionally limiting.