It was around 2005 when I first saw The Pose. I was researching a book and looking at some family photos. In one of them, a daughter then in her late 20s, was standing on the right of a group with her left hand slung on her hip so her arm formed a 90-degree angle at the elbow. She lived in New York City so I put it down to some affected custom among Upper East Side socialites.
In the years since, The Pose has grown in use all the way from the Red Carpet at the Oscars to local situations. Ask three young women to stand for a photo, as I recently did, and at least one of them will cock an elbow with a hand on her hip, thumb behind and out of sight.
There are various possibilities why they do this: it causes the waist to look thinner, both hands at the sides is boring, or it makes a woman exude confidence. I think The Pose makes a woman appear like she’s singing “I’m a little teapot short and stout.”
Guys have the opposite problem. Watch a group of men at a head table get up and stand as they are introduced, or when they line up for a photo – even macho athletes – and many of them will link their hands in front of their private parts as if they’re about to be attacked and are protecting their manhood.
Interesting, isn’t it? Produce a camera and the supposedly strong male gets all defensive while the supposedly weaker sex goes all sassy.
UPDATE: Here is the link to a New York Times piece that says, “Poses are powerful.”