Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Red Carpet Looks Say More Than Stars Think

We speak to one another with our bodies. You can picture it: arms across our chests, or hands on hips, or head down and turned away. All these postures say a lot. In fact, body language often belies the words that come from our mouths.

In a television drama titled Lie to Me, professionals were hired to determine the truth in a situation by observing body language. The first season was particularly good because it used photos of real celebrities to illustrate its point. 

I thought about that show on Sunday as I watched the Oscar red carpet. A lot of attention is focused on the female stars and what they wear. This public appearance is hard work. After hours of preparation, the women will be mercilessly critiqued if they made a bad choice and they don't want to win the Worst Dressed title.

This year, I paid more attention to body language than in prior years, probably due to remarks made by Adele and Jennifer Hudson about their desire to be comfortable. It was obvious that they were pleased with their choices. They stood erect and owned their space. Their smiles were relaxed and genuine. Whether or not you personally liked the Dior dress worn by Charlize Theron, it was obvious that she did. By contrast, watch Kerry Washington. Lovely dress but it didn't fit. On exiting her limo, she pulled the dress up repeatedly. Once in front of the cameras, she moved very carefully and there was often a worried look on her face.

Probably half the women made poor selections and they knew it. Dresses didn't fit properly, were too revealing, or had other design flaws. Folded in on themselves, arms clamped tightly to their bodies, shoulders rounded, these stars looked and sounded like they would welcome a "do-over." In a couple of cases, I felt sorry for them.

The Oscars red carpet is a light-weight example. The same observations apply to all aspects of our lives. Subliminally aware of body language, we react to it more than we realize. It might improve our communication ability if we became consciously attune to it, responding to what we see in a person in addition to what we hear from them. No doubt our relationships would improve as a result. 

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