Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 10, 2013

The habit of the bad vogue


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Please drop the chicken wing pose, ladies. The trick with a trend is recognizing when it’s over. And when bloggers start saying a pose that’s supposed to make you look super cute makes you look like you are airing out your underarm— it’s over.

You know what I’m talking about: the pose with a hand stuck saucily on your hip, synching in your waist so it looks its smallest and angling your arm so it looks its thinnest. All women, all shapes, sizes and ages are doing this pose. I call it the chicken wing pose but it’s also known as the sorority girl pose, the hand-on-hip pageant pose, and the sassy arm triangle of insecurity, as one male blogger called it.

It’s impossible to click through billions of online photos to find the inception of this vogue pose. But we might assume it started on the red carpet. At least that’s where Jezebel.com, a website geared toward women, went to research the blog, “The Hand-On-Hip Pose: An Anthropological Study.” The writer said after looking at an “unending stream of event” photos as part of her job, she decided, “This pose is ridiculous. It’s supposed to make you look thinner, but really it makes everyone look like a little teapot!”

She said there were no signs of the teapot arm until the 2005 Oscars. I found a regular non-red carpet blogger simply commenting on her photographic history and saying she struck that pose back around that time, as well.

So it’s taken a few years but the pose has swept from the red carpet to high school proms to college parties and maybe even to a country club dance. But I’m not the only one calling for an end to this overexposed pose. A year and a half ago, designer Rachel Roy apparently advised starlets Gabrielle Union and Sanaa Lathan to keep their well-toned arms at their sides at an event where they were wearing Roy’s fashions. I think Roy probably felt the beautiful lines of the dresses, which both had synched waists, were lovely without bent arms.

Everyone is striking this pose so often that it is nearly impossible to find a Facebook page or People Magazine that isn’t littered with chicken wing arms. It has begun to look, I’m sorry to say, silly. Do you stand around at a party with your hand propped on your hip? When you are waiting in line at the grocery store or Forever 21, do you have that triangle arm out?

The pose just looks so unnatural, so like you are ... posing.

I know because I went through an odd posing phase as well a few years ago. You might call it the hand-on-my-husband’s-chest phase. We’d stand close in pictures, angled toward each other and I would instinctively place my hand on his chest — as if he was going to run away and I had to hold him there or like I wanted photographic proof that ‘He’s mine!’ I started noticing there were all these photos with my hand centered on his chest and I thought, “That looks goofy.” But it became such a habit that I had to consciously stop doing it. He doesn’t love taking photos but I didn’t need to press him in place. He didn’t seem to notice or mind one way or the other, but I think I’ve almost broken the habit of the bad vogue.

Asked about the designer Rachel Roy’s hand-on-hip-ban by InStyle.com, Gabrielle Union said, “This was our first time on the carpet without our hand on our hip. I felt a little less confident. I’d gotten used to posing that way.” Her co-poser agreed. “It was so hard,” said Sanaa Lathan. “I went through withdrawal!”

It may take a few photos to work this habit out of your system. But with a little concentration and confidence, you’ll soon realize you still look pretty as a picture without your arms framing your body.

At least, the chicken wing or teapot pose is a big improvement over the duck face, which was the picture trend a few years ago. My computer is packed with hundreds of them — my daughter and her friends posing with their lips pushed out like ... well ... a duck beak. If you have a high school age girl, you know what I’m talking about. They laughingly regret that pose. They’ll likely be laughing at the chicken wing pose soon, if they aren’t already.

I’m just grateful it didn’t become a big trend to stick your right leg out two feet from your body as Angelina Jolie did at the Oscars a couple of years ago. Although I did see a few starlets strike a similar pose recently.

Just remember the paraphrased words of a woman who knows all about posing: “All you need is your own imagination/So use it that’s what it’s for/Go inside, for your finest inspiration/Your dreams will open the door/ Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it/Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it/Vogue.”

Jaletta Albright Desmond is a columnist who writes about faith, family, and the fascinatingly mundane aspects of daily life. She lives in North Carolina with her family. Contact her at jdesmond@bdtonline.com.