‘You have excellent posture,” is a great compliment, even in awkwardly progressive 2019. Who doesn’t want to know they move with the grace of a dancer and the moral heroism of a born leader? Who doesn’t want to look “quite tall for a short person”?
I will never hear these words, as I have the posture of a weeping willow. When I sit at a computer, the natural S of my spine curves into a capital C. I walk like a vulture in mourning.
I am well aware of the health implications. Research proves that sitting or standing in an upright position tells our brain we are feeling healthy, inhibiting cortisol release and improving memory function. I want all of that, but mainly I want the compliments. How to get them?
Enter Upright Go (£69.99, uprightpose.com). It is a sort of digital sextant in a box, that sticks to one’s spine and measures the angle of the back. It resembles the paddleboard of a sporty mouse, or the computer mouse of a nerdy leprechaun. Off the bat, I have concerns about its adhesive backing, which is tacky rather than sticky. But will it be my saviour?
I bare its tacky back and press it to mine, in line with my spine. Or rather, don’t. I am working with the area of the body I see the least, and can barely reach. It’s on skew-whiff. A mirror doesn’t help, as the angles are all reversed. I unstick, overcorrect and replace it more off-centre. I try again, and now the thing is entirely horizontal. This is pin the tail on the donkey, with me very much as the donkey. I try again, and the box falls on the carpet, sticky side down.
As for the replaceable adhesive, it is meant to last several weeks, but I am not convinced. Can it cope with an anxiety sweat? What if it fails and the device slips out of the bottom of my top? I have a brainwave, and tuck my T-shirt into my underpants, forming a pocket with which to catch the potential escapee and funnel it into my cleft. A final mirror check confirms the look is profoundly undignified. I have solved the problem, but my God, at what cost?
Once I am walking around, however, the experience is more straightforward. The device is unobtrusive and easy to calibrate, with two simple modes. “Tracking” silently registers your spine alignment throughout the day, then presents you with a depressing breakdown. You can view this on the Upright Go app, as well as a compelling, live-animated representation of yourself slouching in real time, like a chiropractor’s voodoo doll. “Training” mode is more immediate. Whenever the device detects a slouch, it vibrates to alert you. A little like a slap from your mother.
This starts out like a game, but quickly loses its fun. With every moment of slight relaxation nipped in the bud, I feel policed. I mean every moment. Do you know how troubling it is, during one of the few moments of respite that exist in a day, to be jolted between the shoulders and told: “You’re going to the toilet wrong!?” The same crazy buzzing when I lean forward on my elbows, to gaze out of the window. Or twist away from the computer for a hot drink. “Enjoying your inactivi-tea?” I can almost hear the device snorting. I feel caged.
To be fair, you can adjust the sensitivity of the tracker, “to choose how strict or lenient you want your GO to be”. You can specify the delay before a slouch is buzzed – which in theory discounts incidental activities requiring a brief forwards lean – picking something up off the floor, say, or repeating your date of birth to a receptionist.
But, after a week, I notice huge changes. My posture is improving. I am checking myself more often, even in tracking mode – standing taller, a little broader. I feel like Superman. Admittedly, this may be because my top is tucked into my underpants, but wellness starts within.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter. The larger epiphany is to find myself bucking against the totalitarian ideal of bodies in straight lines. Bad posture is a revolutionary act, I have decided. Languor is more important to me. I have finally found something to stand up for. Slouch on, you crazy diamonds.
I receive zero compliments all week, which is weird considering I have been walking around with a packet of Tic Tacs stuck to my back.
Wellness or hellness?
Wellness. I am Superman. Sorry, I mean Stooperman. 3/5