You know how models and actresses almost always seem to look perfect in their photos? I don’t mean just on the red carpet or runway either—but even in those candid paparazzi shots where they’re supposed to look “just like us.” Well, think about what it means when someone talks about the way a person “carries herself.” It’s not just about that person’s bearing. It’s also about the ways inner strength can be shown physically by using the body as an expression of one’s thoughts.
Remember the famous discussion in Pride and Prejudice about high society ladies’ accomplishments not being enough for Mr. Darcy? “… she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’’
How do you carry yourself? Do you stand up tall and sit up straight? Do you keep your shoulders rolled back and your core pulled in? If not, that slouching and hunching not only send other people messages about you but they also send you messages about yourself.
Body Language And Who You Are
In her 2012 TED Talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” Harvard Business School professor of social psychology Amy Cuddy says “our thoughts and our feelings and our physiology” are deeply affected by our nonverbal expressions. When we feel proud and confident we tend to make ourselves large and when we feel powerless or weak, we make ourselves small. In a research study, Cuddy and her co-author had people adopt “high-power poses” and “low-power poses” for two minutes and then collected saliva samples from each participant in order to study their testosterone and cortisol levels. By looking at the connection between nonverbal poses and hormone levels, Cuddy found that it’s “possible that when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful.”
Master Confidence To Win
Because they’re often in front of a camera, even during their leisure time, models and actresses are the queens of the “high-power pose,” and they get trained by coaches, instructors, and agents on how to find their best angles, stand in certain kinds of lighting, hold their bodies and walk. Socialites like Paris Hilton, Amanda Hearst and Naomi Campbell studied with the late Willi Ninja, the Grandfather of Vogue, in order to perfect their poses and walks. We all think of socialites and models as being innately confident, but think about the biofeedback loop created when they work to master how to look confident, beautiful and happy in their own bodies. Learning how to appear confident is no different from taking an acting class, working with a dialogue coach or taking photograph after photograph in order to figure out your best angle for a selfie.
Fake It Until You Become It
You don’t have to hire an instructor to learn how to look and feel like your best. Practice makes perfect and, as Cuddy says, you can “fake it until you become it.” Willi Ninja didn’t become a highly sought-after coach overnight. In addition to his lifelong dance training, he devoted hours to watching runway footage of the supermodel Iman and practicing her walk. Everyone can study walks on YouTube and find the one that suits them best. Anyone can feel more like a highly trained model using the five keys I outlined in my book SupermodelYOU.
Being more self-aware (Key 1) could entail checking your posture before you walk into a room or introducing yourself to someone new. I also recommend setting regular alarms on your phone or tablet to remind you to check your posture at intervals during the day. If you find yourself feeling down at certain points, it’s likely that your mental state is being reflected and perpetuated by your posture. Getting enough sleep (Key 2), de-stressing regularly (Key 3), eating intuitively (Key 4) and keeping your body moving (Key 5) will also help you feel empowered, balanced, and strong.
Your Most Important Accessory Is
Confidence is not only something that you can feel within yourself, it’s also the most important accessory that others can see. By maintaining powerful body language, wearing comfortable clothes that make you feel amazing and keeping your negative self-talk in check, even if you don’t feel confident all the time—and no one does— you can fake it until you become it. Smile, keep a positive attitude, learn to laugh at your nervousness and don’t freak out if you see one bad photograph of yourself (models take hundreds of shots just to get a single great one).
Happy Person = Beautiful
Remember that a happy person is always a beautiful person, and that happiness is all in our heads. As Cuddy said in her TED talk, “Our bodies change our minds and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” Own your unique type of beauty. You can start letting it shine by standing up straight.
By Sarah Deanna