Body and Image #1
If you have read my blog’s description, you must’ve noticed the emphasis I place on image. Despite everything we hear about shallow and superficial people who only take into account looks and appearance, or the old saying “don’t jugde a book by its cover”, the cold hard truth is that we all make judgments based on appearances. Don’t get this the wrong way but simply put, first impressions are crucial: we all know the true “value” of a person lies inside and consists of character, feelings and emotions, but on your everyday life this is the second step when you meet someone. Before talking and getting to know more about a person, your very first impression is sensorial: your brain absorbs and processes all the information projected by that person’s image, unconsciously constructing your perception of it. That judgement is what will primarily draw you to or away from that person.
Your image plays a most important role in how you are perceived and interpreted in the society you live in. The signs your body sends out for other people to read (based on posture and body language) can make or break other people’s impression of you, no matter what you are wearing. Even if you are the best dressed man in the world, if your posture isn’t according, your overall image will be but a fraction of its full potential.
Photos from “Le chaines musculaires et articulaires” by Godelieve Denys-Struyf.
Due to the importance of this subject I found it necessary to have someone who knows best teach us more about it. As such, I asked Caroline Prufer, a physioterapist specialized in Labor Health and postural re-education to colaborate with me in periodical posts regarding Body and Image. Due to the vast nature of the topic we will focus on posture and its influence, as well as the interpretation/reflection of how the body affects one’s style and image.
Here are some basic concepts she found important, as a very brief and informal introduction:
Regarding Body and Image, one can consider the existence of two main aspects of psychology :
- Physiological Aspect
- Social Significance
Despite the complex and different interpretations, these aspects can be simplified through the Silent Messages Chart . Based on this chart, it’s possible to translate and ponder about the impact of the first (or second, etc.) impression we portray and perceive on our everyday life, focusing mainly on:
- Tone of voice
- Body language
To give you a taste of what’s to come, here is the first tip to enhance your image during meetings, presentations or casual conversations: avoid the arm-cross. Crossing your arms may have a negative impact on personal traits you are trying to express such as receptivity or interest. While in this posture, there’s an increase of the gravity tension which bends your shoulders forward and diminishes the overall strength of your image. Along with the shoulders, your torso also leans forward affecting your breathing and voice tone, again compromising your image. This posture is usually an unconscious way to seek relief from stressful situations and might suggest self-importance, arrogance or disagreement.
Photo from Primer Magazine
Remember: reading body signs is subliminal and subjective, but it happens every minute and the higher your postural consciousness, the more advantages you will get from the role your image plays in your life.
I would like to invite you all to follow our periodical posts and place your questions/opinions.
References:  - Paul Shilder ;  - Albert Mehrabian, 1981