Listen to your body.
Close your eyes and pay attention to how you’re sitting or standing or lying.
Is your spine upright or do you hug your limbs close to yourself? Are you spreading out or collapsing in?
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, sharing messages about what we portray with or without our knowledge. It’s the books we aren’t fully aware are open for the world to read. And how we carry ourselves determine others’ perceptions of who we are – our strengths, weaknesses, fears and pride.
A Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy touched on this and the idea of ‘powerful poses or stances’.
Cuddy unpacks her past with having to fake it till she became it after having been in an accident that significantly dropped her IQ and affected her college studies.
She also touches on a subject many of us women are familiar with – the gender gap in power and its dynamics.
Often, her studies have found, women are more likely to shrink into themselves in certain social settings while men tend to be more assertive in their body language – assuming dominance and power.
The argument, however, is that many people who portray powerful body languages tend to have higher levels of testosterone, but also lower levels of cortisol – making them poorly equipped to react to stressful situations well.
Her studies also found that those who shrink into themselves in turn have lower testosterone levels but higher cortisol levels – making them better equipped to manage and react to stressful situations.
This can often be seen in people in positions of power. The cycle, Cuddy argues, continues in a perpetual manner.
But what if we could somehow change that?
What if we could enable the individuals who react better to stress to become powerful as well?
This is where we need to take back our power, especially as women in a male-dominated world. Cuddy’s slogan is to ‘fake it till you become it’. She vehemently believes that if you take a few minutes a day to consciously empower yourself, even if just through body language alone, you’ll start to believe and become it.
How it works is to just be more conscious of how we present ourselves through our body language. Adopt more powerful stances or poses. Unclench your jaw, untangle your fists and ankles and sit up straight – don't let the fear of occupying space or being seen make you miss the chance to be a powerful gamechanger.
Similarly, the “Do not move off the sidewalk” challenge, that was initiated by writer Hannah Drake, challenged black people and people of colour to hold their space in a white and patriarchal world.
The rule is simple – it's about recognising where you are, acknowledging your body and being unapologetic about holding your place in this world. And as women it starts by doing away with the shame and stigmas socially attached to femininity, periods and female power.
While the journey of us unlearning decades of socially engrained norms and power dynamics has just begun – we have the chance to start changing it for the women yet to be born.
It starts with us changing that discourse and how we pass on the inheritance of womanhood to our daughters and how we choose to empower them when they do go on their rite of passages and transition from girls to women with the first drop of their periods.
Libresse, a brand promoting women to take back their power when it comes to their bodies, suggests talking to your daughters in an open, comfortable and confident manner about their periods. This, they say, will make all the difference to how they’ll experience menstruation throughout their lives and gives them a chance to be fearless.
So, are you ready to hold your space, take back your power and pass on that power to your daughters?
Tweet us @W24_SA about what makes you feel powerful.
This post is sponsored by Libresse produced by BrandStudio24 for W24.