The other day when I was defending having better superheroes for girls (this needs defending? apparently) over at a favorite blog of mine, avc.com, someone there linked me to this amazing Ted Talk. He sent it to me because of the speaker’s references to the “Wonder Woman pose.” Here’s the description from the Ted website:
Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.
I wasn’t too surprised to learn that my body language can change how I feel inside, because as a former actress I know that changing the expression on my face can literally trigger an emotion (yes, a lot of acting really is just ‘making faces’). What really nailed me though was the revelation that changing your body language actually changes the amounts of testosterone (good) and cortisol (bad – stress!) in your system. Wow.
Now, I don’t think it’s news to you that our media does not frequently reflect power postures back to females. Those slouchy underfed Calvin Klein ad models are like poster-children for everything I don’t want my daughter to feel. If Cuddy is right, getting our girls to strike power postures, instead, by instinct may be one of the most important things we can do for them.
What a fabulous opportunity!
This is one of those things where we get to help someone by helping ourselves. If you’re a woman, stand proud, stand tall, put your hands on your hips and take up space (if you’re a man, it’s likely you already do that). Plant yourself solidly with your feet apart. You’ll feel more confident and powerful, less stressed. Our kids do nothing if mirror us, so it follows that they’ll do likewise.
Practice striking the “Wonder Woman pose” with the girl in your life before she’s about to do something challenging, intimidating or daunting. If it worked for Cuddy (spoiler alert – there’s a real grab-the-tissues moment in this about her personal experience with feeling no-enough), it most certainly will work for our girls – and us.