Tag Archives: Fitness

The Beautiful People

smiley lady
Back about a week ago, I made [a few observations](/blog/2006/10/23/scenarios-personas-and-the-iconic-face/) about [McCloud](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_McCloud)’s notion of the iconic face and how it related to persona detail when building scenarios for strategic visioning or for usability purposes.

I’m not the only design-geek to be fascinated by Scott, Kathy at “[Creating Passionate Users](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/)” [name-checks his notion as well](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/10/the_best_thing_.html) and he gets mentioned a couple of times in the [comments](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2004/02/18/the_pictures_in_ichat_weird_me_out.html#comments) at danah’s “[apophenia](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/)” as people talk around danah’s frustration at [iChat](http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/ichat/)’s avatars.

That’s all good, but I just wanted to drop another observation. Most of the things that seem to help us consider a person [facially attractive](http://face-and-emotion.com/dataface/facets/attractiveness.jsp) – symmetry, conformance to a statistical average, makeup (which evens out visual distinctiveness like bumps and spots), even youth – seem to be about how far a face is toward the iconic end of Scott’s scale. Consider how attractive you find [averaged faces](/blog/2005/11/22/the-face-of-tomorrow/) and what that means.

These are the faces we choose to advertise products, the models, the one-hit wonders, the game show hosts. In addition to the well-accepted explanations for this, that symmetrical faces [indicate genetic fitness and are perceptually easier to process](http://www.frinktank.com/?p=369), McCloud’s theory adds an interesting perspective on why we do this – because the iconic face let’s us “fall into” the world of the ad or the show, we can see ourselves wearing that suit, winning that prize, using that toothpaste. Perhaps this strategy literally appeals to our [narcissism](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism_%28psychology%29) – our need to see ourselves as the centre of the world.

People we actually consider beautiful – while mostly attractive in this classical sense – seem to me to have some unique, asymmetric features, some difference, something that resists our egoic demand and maintains a distance that makes real empathy possible. We become fascinated by The Other… hard to process, mysterious, not-Self.

Think of one of the hundreds of pretty faces you’ve seen in ads in the last week try to call it to mind clearly. Now try thinking of [Robert De Niro](http://images.google.com.au/images?q=robert%20deniro&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a&sa=N&tab=wi) or [Julianne Moore](http://images.google.com.au/images?svnum=10&hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-GB%3Aofficial&q=julianne+moore&btnG=Search).

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New Chair

So when I work at home, I used to sit on a kind of crappy gas-lift chair that I bought from a chain office supply store. My beloved, in his endless quest to look after my back and shoulders, has expressed annoyance at the chair, the long hours I spend at it and my work in general for the effect they have on my neck pain and my posture.

It seems he’s decided to take action so this afternoon he took me to a local [Herman Miller](http://hermanmiller.com/) [dealer](http://www.workarena.com.au/index.htm) to get fitted for an [Aeron](http://www.darwinmag.com/read/writeon/column.html?ArticleID=733). It’s inexcusably luxurious and something I’d never buy for myself, but I guess that’s the ideal birthday gift. I’m humbled by having someone who cares this much for me, and my physical well-being, in my life.

Behold my new, elite seating apparatus:

My new Chair

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Monster Shoulders

I’ve always had narrow shoulders. My bone structure’s not sensational, I’ve got a lot of old stress and fear repression habits that hold tension in my shoulders and neck and somehow despite a couple of decades of weight training, the muscles in my shoulders have always been hard to work.

In the last few years, I’ve been dealing with a lot of those old somatic habits and gradually learning how to connect with my shoulders and they’ve been responding better in the gym. But a few weeks ago, I read [8 Weeks to Monster Shoulders](http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=818555) at [T-Nation](http://www.t-nation.com) and it’s been a kind of break-through.

I’m still on the first half of the workout that’s mostly rehab to help strengthen the whole shoulder girdle before starting on the real hypertrophy work, but already my shoulders feel stronger and look better than they have my whole life.

I’m following everything [Cosgrove](http://www.t-nation.com/ALSAuthor.do?p=Alwyn%20Cosgrove&pageNo=1) and [Waterbury](http://www.t-nation.com/ALSAuthor.do?p=Chad%20Waterbury&pageNo=1) suggest in the article except exercise frequency. I’m an [HST](http://www.hypertrophyspecific.com/hst_index.html) fan, so I’m doing their workout three times a week, being careful about staying away from failure and only doing a little additional work for the rest of my body (in particular I’m only doing a set or two of squats for my legs).

If you’ve got difficult shoulders, give C&W’s workout a try.

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Busy, busy, busy

Sorry for the break, I’ve been busy shifting things to WordPress 2.0, which makes a surprisingly nice mini-CMS.

First I [shifted this blog](http://www.timbomb.net/blog/2006/01/12/just-about-to-roll-over-to-wp-20) and then I moved my [Sexual Racism Sux](http://www.sexualracismsux.com) project over.

Finally, I got around to starting my new fitness blog project, which I haven’t launched yet. I’ll announce it here when I do.

In amongst all that I’ve been trying to find time to help out the [iSalons](http://www.isalons.net) guys with choosing some good infrastructure software, getting [my Integral group](http://www.sydneyintegral.org) kicked off for the new year with a Integral Practice planning session and some plotting for an Intro to Integral Theory seminar for the [Ken Wilber Meetup](http://kenwilber.meetup.com/264/).

… and various other plans and schemes. Unemployment is very tiring!

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