How do you present yourself to the world? Do you stand upright, chin held high, eyes straight ahead? Or are you counting the lines in the sidewalk, wishing you had your invisibility cloak? Do you assert yourself with your body language and eye contact or avoid the world like the plague?
The way you walk through your day matters.
Try this: Shrug your shoulders and look at your feet. Now walk across the room. How do you feel? Strong? Powerful? Probably not. Now, stand with your shoulders up, chin up, and eyes straight ahead. Now walk back. Do you feel the difference?
For many reasons, it’s important to stand tall.
First, it feels good to own our power. It just does. Standing tall helps our breathing and balance. It can also change our emotional and mental state. When we stand straight, with pelvis forward, shoulders high, and head up, our body releases a hormone – testosterone - which can increase our feelings of strength and confidence. And, it can actually help us to perform better!
Another reason to stand tall is our safety.
Let’s just imagine you were looking for trouble. If you wanted to choose a person to bully, catcall, attack, rob, or assault, would you pick? Would you want to start something with a person who appears strong, alert, and capable? Would you pick someone you thought would give you a hard time? Or would you choose someone you believed you could easily overcome? Well, this is how an offender chooses their victim.
As discussed in the girl safety guide Taking Flight For Girls Going Places, “Offenders seek to demonstrate their power over potential victims, so they need someone who will offer little resistance. In choosing their victims, they usually watch several girls and pick one.”
So, how can you not be the one they pick? “Appear confident, alert, and attentive in your body language and your voice. Stand tall and strong, chin up, and walk forward, showing that you are completely aware and confident in your journey. This body language will show a would-be offender that with you, there will be resistance.”
The world sees you. It responds to what you show them. So, let’s stand tall! Even if you’re not feeling like the superhero that you are, fake it til you make it! It could change your attitude and it will show the world just how powerful you are!
Kathy Greene Lahey, LMSW, AC, is the author of Taking Flight For Girls Going Places, a preventive tool to help independence-bound girls stay safe, confident, and empowered.