The Big Issue : Edition 569
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 24 AUG–6 SEP 2018 13 PHOTOSBYJAMESBRAUND OKAY, CARDS ON the table, I have terrible posture. The worst. I stand tall for photos, or if I round a corner and bump into someone I want to impress, say Aretha Franklin, but left to its own devices my body droops like an abandoned house-plant. I’m in my head a lot, scheming world domination and arranging my to-do list in order of urgency (“must buy milk” on equal pegging with “must finish writing book”), and as I sit at the computer or open a newspaper, eyes glued to words, my head leans forward and my neck obediently follows, giving me that classic, hot, ET silhouette. In bed, if I can’t drop off on my back, I lay on my side and my shoulders curl around protectively, my stupidly long arms fold in front of my chest, and I lie there like an interred bat. A 1000-year-old mummified bat. Gah. I know it’s a problem. How could I not when I still have my father’s voice ringing in my girlhood ears? “For god’s sake, Fiona, stand up straight.” Yelling, however, is but one of many techniques that don’t work on a chronic fear- based condition, particularly when you’re stooping because your dad keeps yelling at you, and you’re attempting to be a small target. When you’re already brushing the ceiling at 13. At school, I was 20cm taller than most of the boys, and heaven forfend that that was a thing. My “posture” formed in a perfect storm: self-consciousness and “please like me” colliding with being too tall for the sodding world. I still am. The emotional stuff I’ve worked on, but I tell you what, when I extend to my full height I loom. Benches are too low, tables are too low, sinks are too low, friends are too short. Even on a good day I feel like Gulliver. On a bad day, say glimpsing myself in the gym mirror next to a standard-sized human, an actual freak. Genetics! Hilarious. Buildings and fittings are necessarily constructed around an average, a mean, and hovering as I do at the “praying mantis” edge of the bell curve, I am eternally, unconsciously, compensating. » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer, comedian and human nutcracker. FIONA Tall Tales “‘Guaranteed’ medical cures off the internet are never best practice. And you can’t outsource self- esteem.” Not that I’ve done anything about it, of course, are you crazy, besides deleting photographs that show my hump forming from behind. I have a couple of personal trainers, sure, but apparently not much happens if you just pimp your trapezius muscles twice a week with some activating retraction blah blah exercises I tend to tune out. More mindful physical therapy is required than the involuntarily lengthening of the spine whenever I spy someone hunched over a walking frame. My methods for addressing how I hold myself border on superstition. I may as well have hung a bulb of garlic around my neck or checked 17 times that I’d turned off the oven. In about February this year, my right shoulder started getting dicky. The kind of niggle my osteopath deals with no problem. Yes I have an osteopath, I have a whole network of health professionals, including a vulva guy, even though I’m actually rather well – and this is probably why I don’t have a house. But the niggle kept coming back. And back. And now I’ve gone to a Chinese medicine guy, and aside from the cupping, which may or may not be as efficacious as turning the oven on and off, the takeaway is that it’s my posture causing the problem. Coming home to roost like a flock of pain-bearing chickens. My first thought was “ooh, I’ve seen some shoulder brace things on social media”, but “guaranteed” medical cures off the internet are never best practice. And you can’t outsource self-esteem. It’s interesting how resistant I am to standing tall. Right now I’m pretending that I’m cracking a walnut between my shoulderblades. Day six. It’s tiring, emotional and confronting. Weirdly, it seems to be working. Dad would be proud. Finally.