Tyga and Kylie Jenner aren’t too shy for this common red carpet pose. (Photo: Getty)
Things in Hollywood are changing for the better. The number of female protagonists in films is rising, and female-driven movies are enjoying strong box office results (Hat tip to Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck and Lily James in Cinderella). Plus 2015 was the year that Jennifer Lawrence spoke out about being paid less, so maybe that will finally change too.
Why, then, are some powerful young women striking a pose on the Red Carpet that positions them as anything but? With their bodies turned toward their partners, plus their partners’ presumptuous hand positions and smug smirks, the women who are posing like this are compromising their empowered status—and sending a troubling message to their fans.
Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds give an affectionate display. (Photo: Getty)
“The body doesn’t lie,” Lillian Glass, PhD, a body language expert and author of He Says, She Says: Closing the Communication Gap Between the Sexes, tells Yahoo Beauty. “And when a man poses like this, he’s marking his territory.” He’s also making sure, according to Dr. Glass, that some attention stays focused on him by acting in a private, confidential way out in public. “He’s boasting that he gets to be intimate with a woman that’s considered valuable and attractive. For him, it’s a power trip.”
While it’s not fair to pin the guys’ bad behavior on their ladies, the women who strike this pose aren’t blameless either. “Women who stand like this are acting coquettish, or in a flirtatious manner,” explains Dr. Glass. And of course there’s nothing wrong with that. “But they’re also acquiescing. They’re ultimately reinforcing a pretty conventional notion of gender roles.” In fact, by standing facing in—instead of facing the camera and addressing their audiences directly—they put themselves in a supporting role. It’s as if they’re saying whatever they’ve accomplished isn’t as important as shoring up someone else and their relationship. Plus, in the case of Kylie Jenner, it seems as if she’s also boasting about her perfect booty—the body part that for the past few years plenty of people have spent serious time, money and effort to get. And showing off just to create envy in others? That’s not cool.
Russell Brand and Katy Perry send the wrong message to young fans. (Photo: Getty)
Another questionable aspect of this pose: The message it sends to younger female fans. Because with Katy Perry being the world’s richest female celebrity (beating out Beyoncé and Taylor Swift for the title) and Kylie’s lip kits selling out in seconds, these women are bona fide power brokers. So how about a pose that conveys that instead? “Instead of being portrayed as the incredibly smart, talented, wealthy and powerful women they are, these starlets are relating to their men through submission,” says Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D, a Los Angeles-based therapist who treats issues relating to celebrity, power and success. Worse still, “they’re selling the same aspirational beauty standards that dictate who and what women should be. Subtly and not so subtly, the message young women get from these images is that women are only accessories that enhance men’s power.”
Kanye is the master of the booty grab. (Photo: Getty)
Whether we (or they) like it or not, celebrities are role models in our culture. With their ubiquitous media exposure we’re constantly exposed to their behaviors and decisions. And given that they wield such power, it doesn’t seem too much to hope that they’d think about their influence on their fans. Of course, everyone makes mistakes and no one can look perfect in front of the camera all of time, but if these women don’t upend some of the tired, outdated definitions of female power and beauty, who will?