One of my good friends once told me that she always wears high heels when she is in online meetings. Although no one ever sees them, she knows they are there, and it just makes her behave differently. The heels also make her aware of her strength and femininity, and they officially feel “dressed up” for the occasion. They make her feel empowered, and she never fails to use that strength. Well, shoes are not the only thing that can have that effect.
In the last 7 months, more people have begun to work online and use electronic conferencing than ever before. Depending on their screen resolution and the nature of the meeting, this can add considerable social pressure to already challenging situations. It is also the reason why many people who used to love it have become slightly less avid fans of HD.
A few months after the COVID shutdown, there was a surge in cosmetic surgery procedures, to the point where this was chronicled in The New York Times. People started to notice the bags under their eyes, their double chins, and the wrinkles between their eyebrows. They spent most of their meetings staring at these features of their own faces and trying to figure out why they never noticed this before. Add to that the fact that most images that we have today of other people are air-brushed impossibilities of nature, and it can be hard to know what you are actually expected to look like. But, while our faces do in fact meet the world first, there is a lot more than just that that makes our impression on others.
Studies in non-verbal behavior will tell you that you say more with your body than you do with your mouth. One key element to how you communicate with others is your posture. Sagging or hanging over your shoulders can suggest that you are unhappy, bored, or lazy. It can also suggest that you are overwhelmed and cannot handle the job. Poor posture automatically defies confidence, ages you, and yes, hurts your neck and back in the process.
Posture is part habit and part anatomy. For example, women with very large breasts will find it almost impossible to achieve or maintain excellent posture, as they feel weighed down by a constant pull around their necks. People with weak core strength will also fall forward, leaving their backs with the disproportionate responsibility of holding up their trunks. Core restoration and breast reduction can help with either of these issues, as can targeted exercise routines where surgery is not indicated.
But posture is also psychological, and you are more likely to hold yourself high when you feel good about yourself. If there is something that makes you uncomfortable about the way you look or feel, it can translate into how you act and how you hold yourself. This is at the foundation of all aesthetics- the fact that feeling good about yourself can actually affect your performance and your general happiness.
One of my favorite things about being a plastic surgeon is watching that transformation occur for my patients. When I look back at some preop and postop photographs, many of them show that the patient is somber in the before, and smiling in the after. I try to be conscious about this so that the photos can effectively be compared to each other, and I never stage those looks, but they happen frequently on their own because of how people feel about themselves before and after their procedures. It is transformative to be constantly bothered by some small nagging detail, and then have it eliminated one day while you take a nap. It is even more empowering when the result is so natural that you can’t tell that anything was done in the first place.
A person’s mood shows on their faces, and their general comfort in their own skin radiates from every pore. Sometimes, confidence comes from the little things that only you know, but that make you feel particularly good about yourself. Sometimes it’s an accomplishment that you carry in your own mind. Sometimes it’s a connection with another person. Other times, it’s feeling amazing in a suit that fits you like a glove, or the first really great hairstyle you ever received. But regardless of where it comes from, confidence is emboldening, and sometimes the most so when it comes from your own little secret.
I once watched a woman buy a three hundred dollar bra while accompanied by her best friend. The friend asked her why she would do that.
“It’s not like people will see it,” the friend questioned.
“Maybe not, but I will know that it’s there.”