Bullish: Should You Act More Confident By Making Yourself Larger (Like a Blowfish)?


Jennifer Dziura writes career and life advice on TheGloss and headquartered on GetBullish.com.

The post 5 Body Language Poses That Can Sabotage Success keeps popping up on websites I visit, accompanied by a lovely stock photo of a woman’s lower legs and ankles.

The woman is wearing a sweet pair of black heels. Her ankles are crossed. You can see the flounce of her dress. There’s a little bit of an Alice in Wonderland feel to it. I’m glad women in business are no longer told to wear power suits and shoulder pads.

The post itself contains the following:

“Businesswomen will ask why they aren’t being taken seriously … and it’s often because their body language communicates ‘little girl,’” Sayler says. “Many of these poses, while acceptable in social situations, make women in the business world look small and unimposing.”

Also this:

“Little-girl poses elevate the stress hormone, cortisol, making a woman feel less confident, whereas a power stance like the ‘Wonder Woman’ pose changes her body chemistry so that she feels more confident and successful,” says Sayler, who doesn’t suggest using the Wonder Woman stance in public, as it’s too aggressive.

And this:

Women cross their ankles while standing because it is more comfortable, especially if they’re wearing high heels, but it is not a good idea, because it sends the message that you are shy and insignificant, says Sayler.

So should you enhance your career by trying to make yourself larger and more physically intimidating?

(Note: The phrase “body language poses” is redundant, no? Like … “facial movement expressions.” Or “dance move positions.”)

Personally, I think this is some pre-Nineties-level BS. I am really tired of business advice that, if followed precisely, allows women to attempt to compete to be second place at best. Let’s make our voices deeper! Let’s take up more space when we sit! Let’s clench our fists when we walk into a room, as though we’re ready for a fistfight! I have actual boxing experience (see Bullish Life: What I Learned From Being Captain of My College Debate and Boxing Teams at the Same Time), and I am not going to win any kind of fistfight, ever. This is a losing game.

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    • Tania

      I never before thought of my ability to curl up in chairs as an advantage, but now that I think of it, it totally is. I am way more comfortable than my friends are, usually.

      I would still like to be able to reach higher than the second shelf without a chair, though.

      • Jennifer Dziura

        I am about one inch too tall to sleep comfortably while faceplanted on my airline tray table. So if you’re 5’4 or under, I think that would be a bonus.

      • Tania

        If ever I’m in a long flight, I will keep that in mind.

    • BobV

      Newt has hardly been given a free pass for being named “Newt”.

    • http://www.millicentnankivell.com/ Millicent Nankivell

      Being a tall woman means that I’ve often tried to hide myself because I feel grossly out of place – I wanted so badly to be small because I think being small has so many advantages. Easier to sneak up on people and take them by surprise at the very least!

    • quintessajazz

      “I am beginning to suspect that the constant flow of advice to women to
      act larger and deepen our voices is just propaganda from men who can’t
      conceive of — or are terrified by — female success that doesn’t look
      anything like male success.” Perfect, just perfect.

    • Helen

      The “little girl” comments in that article are ridiculous. But on the other hand, I’ve heard about at least one study having shown that big, powerful poses can make you feel more confident, regardless of gender. Of course, in the TED talk I was watching, the speaker suggested doing the Wonder Woman/Superman poses in the bathroom before a meeting or interview.