Walk Like An Angel
Each year, hundreds of women send me pictures of their favorite date outfits and their online dating profiles, so that I can help them present themselves in the most attractive way possible. While your hairstyle and clothing definitely deserve a thorough assessment, don't overlook another important X factor — key to your entire presentation of yourself — that doesn't always show up in a photo: your posture.
WHAT MEN THINK
How you stand and carry yourself is a critical part of your overall appeal. While most men won't consciously evaluate your posture — it's not a detail they're going to comment on or discuss — it absolutely colors how they (and others) perceive you. Are you a potential girlfriend or a "buddy"? Your posture — along with how you dress and take care of yourself — signals how you expect others to treat you, and has an impact on your workplace relationships, family relationships, and romance.
Here's an excerpt from the Rules Revisited blog that illustrates the male perspective. It's worth reading the entire post but in this passage, Andrew describes how a female friend (one he typically rates “between a 7 and a 10") transforms their power dynamic simply by standing up straight. Now that she exhibits Beauty Queen poise, she seems out of his league, and he can't take her interest in him for granted:
“But here is perhaps the most interesting and telling part: when this girl corrected her posture, I felt a distinct pang of intimidation. It surprised and dismayed me, because I was sure until that moment that I had this girl wrapped around my finger. Suddenly the roles were decidedly reversed.... What if she had appeared that way when I first met her? And if she had maintained it, would I have ever been able to gain the upper hand? This is the power of posture.”
If you're willing to invest time, effort, and money in your clothing, hair, and makeup, wouldn't it be smart to make sure you rock those outfits at full potential?
YOUR PHONE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND WHEN IT COMES TO MAINTAINING GOOD POSTURE
- Shoulders that slump forward
- A head that bows down
- A tummy that pooches out
- Pain in the lower back and neck; headaches
- Low-energy feeling, even after 8 hours of sleep
These are all signs that it's time to take a break from texting and put away your phone or whatever kind of screen you're using.
Notice that in this before/after photo, the corrected posture shows a healthy curve in the lower back (c-curve), shoulder blades that are "activated" toward the center of the back, and an engaged core (the abdominal area).
QUICK TIP FOR SLUMPED SHOULDERS
If your shoulders are a problem area, you've probably been told to "relax" them down and back. The result is not usually long-lasting because that cue doesn't teach you how to engage the right muscles. For the moment, forget about your shoulders. Instead, try to "activate" the center of your back — the part in between your shoulder blades (Lower Trapezius muscles, in case you want to research this a bit further). Visualize those back muscles pulling your shoulder blades down and together, as if they could touch at the spine. If you can practice this sensation throughout the day, you will begin to "warm up" an area of the back that often becomes frozen during screen-time, driving, and office work. Direct massage, chest-opening yoga postures like upward dog, and training with hand-held weights are all good ways to target that middle back area.
Another prop you might try is a soft fabric posture corrector. There are many different brands available — comb through the reviews on Amazon — ranging from around $15 to $75. I road-tested the EquiFit "Shoulders Back" Lite for one of my daughters. (I wanted to make sure it was comfortable enough to wear at least an hour a day before I recommended it to her.) I liked the Shoulders Back so much that I ended up ordering a second one for myself, just to wear during computer time. If you try out one of these braces, please make sure you wear it over a T-shirt; no corrector is comfortable enough to wear over bare skin. Bonus: You can even wear one under a sweater or jacket, while you run errands! Wearing it several hours at a time can help you feel and activate that key middle back area. Hint: These braces do not cover your breasts, so bra cup size is not an issue; an EquiFit Medium will fit a woman wearing a 34-38 bra.
Watching This Victoria's Secret Runway Video Could Save You $2,100 In Bodywork
HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR CORE
After the birth of my first child, I could tell that my spine was out of whack. Even though my weight was back to normal I just didn't look right in my work clothes — everything hung differently. A friend who worked for Vogue suggested that I visit a massage therapist named Mike Bulger who practiced something called structural integration; the magazine had just featured him in their health section and apparently Oprah was one of his happy clients. I agreed to try 10 sessions. Two months later — at at a cost of roughly $2,100 — I was realigned and pain-free. Yes, the structural manipulation had been very beneficial, and I am eternally grateful to Mike. But, also, a tip that Mike shared with me somewhere in our first session was the breakthrough concept that I had needed to incorporate into my day-to-day life.
Mike told me that during all activities — whether sitting, standing, or walking — you should lead with your pelvis. (He truly meant "lead with your core" — which includes the abdominal region as well — but for beginners the pelvic area is easier to identify.) That's it: lead with your core.
And if you watch these Victoria's Secret models strut down the runway, you will see this principle in action. Leading with the pelvis does cause your chest to pop out a little (because of that lovely c-curve in your spine) but it's very different from consciously trying to thrust your breasts forward in a forced way, or yanking your shoulders down and back, which can be painful and difficult to maintain.
Of course, models walking a runway are amplifying and exaggerating each movement for effect; it's theater. That's not exactly how you're going to parade around the office. But if you've been having trouble maintaining "straight" posture while you walk, move, and do everyday activities, then shifting your focus southward may help.
CHANGE YOUR POSTURE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Did you know that consciously addressing your posture can have a deep impact on every area of your life? If you are feeling stuck in your career, your relationships, or with your family, I encourage you to watch this 20-minute TED talk from social psychologist Amy Cuddy. She talks about how “power posing” can affect how your brain functions and, ultimately, your chances for satisfying employment, interpersonal relationships, and success in general. Her research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions—and even our own body chemistry—simply by changing body positions.
NO PRETZEL POSES, PLEASE
Finally, if you're looking for a fun and pleasurable way to improve your posture, yoga is both inexpensive and effective. Foundation postures like cobra and the sun salutation flow are a wonderful way to wring out the tension and help build up that sexy core. Don't worry about doing them perfectly. These flows are about lengthening and strengthening your muscles, and should feel good. And if your body becomes more toned and graceful as a result, what's not to like?
Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.