(Figure: "Wave Hill. American Rod PattersonMore work at http://home.mindspring.com/~mandali/index.html)

You’ve seen her. The mature woman entering a restaurant with an elegance you thought died with Grace Kelly. You’ve noticed her buying flowers or at the gym. She’s as old as you are, or even older, but there’s something about her that is graceful and slender in a way you don’t think possible for you.

It’s her posture.

It is said that good posture makes a woman look 10 years younger and 10 pounds lighter, and while that may be a bold claim, it is close enough to the truth to kiss it on the lips. Slumping shoulders cause rounded backs, stooped gait, and bubble bellies—and that’s just for starters. That trio alone would make a 25-year-old look older and pudgier. On someone over 40, they are the highway to low self-esteem.

The cascade can continue. You slump and you look as though you are protecting yourself from a hailstorm or an impending fatal blow. Those around you are naturally warded off. You feel disregarded. You slump some more.

Whether you feel defeated, you have gotten into a bad habit, or you are still rebelling against your parent’s endless admonishments to “Stand up straight!,” it is time you got over it and stood up for yourself.

There are endless posture exercises online, like these from Women’s Health magazine, but if you know yourself and know you’ll probably forget to do anything but the simplest thing, try this.

SpanishprowStand straight, with your knees slightly bent. Imagine yourself a figurehead on the bow of the most beautiful and seaworthy ship you have ever seen. The ship is moving quickly, the wind is gentle but steady in your hair. Your gaze is on the horizon, your arms are soaring behind you. You are magnificent.

Release and repeat four more times.

 

Do at least twice a day, but more is better. Do it faithfully, and take a look in the mirror a month from now.

That lighter-, younger-looking woman is you.

(Top image: “Wave Hill,” by Rod Patterson. More work at http://home.mindspring.com/~mandali/index.html. Bottom image: Ship’s figure head: America., Anonymous.18 cBaroque, France.” San Jose State University: http://gallery.sjsu.edu/cartography/gallery/gallery-thumb.00002.html)