(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)


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  • BigLittleWolf January 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Could not agree more – and thank you for the reminder. Also “height challenged,” and not wanting to be more so, this is a reminder I give myself periodically!


  • ellen sue spicer-jacobson January 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    BEing short forced me to stand tall!

  • Sharon January 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Being tall (and growing to my full height of 5’10” at fourteen years of age), having great posture would have been a big challenge – except for one thing: competitive sports. It really made a difference for me to be an athlete and you learn to look at your body differently: standing, moving, carrying yourself, being physically strong and graceful. I wish every girl had that opportunity: it’s priceless to learn to know and love and take care of your body… and to like yourself just the way you are. Great advice and article, and I am still standing tall…

  • Toni Myers January 26, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    You are talking about moi! No, not the Grace Kelly person, the sloucher. First it was discomfort and shyness about growing so fast and tall. Now that I am shorter, it’s those giant breasts that appeared after menopause and extra pounds.
    Sloucher no more thanks to this piece. I am sitting really really straight as I type, imagining myself a beautiful figurehead on the ocean. I look younger already!

  • b.elliott January 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Went to the Women’s Health site and reviewed all the exercises. Absolutely great! I am incorporating these into my new workout program. And no excuses since many can be done during spare minutes during the day, too!

  • Diane Dettmann January 26, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Me too, Roz! I find myself “slumping” over my laptop a lot. 🙁

  • rozwarren January 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I’m sitting up straighter right now! Thanks for the reminder.

  • Diane Dettmann January 26, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Growing up, my mother was a stickler on posture. Sometimes in the evening we even balanced books on our heads and walked around the dining room, laughing as the books hit the floor. As the years have passed, I feel a slight stoop moving in, but my mother’s advice continues to echo in my head, “Stand up straight.” Now I have both my mother’s voice and the image of the figure head on the ship’s bow to straighten me out. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. January 26, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Standing tall, even for those of us who are height challenged in real life, can make us feel almost six feet tall. We soar above those around us and our clothes fit the way they were meant to fit. Others certainly notice and that comes full circle back to woman who is moving through the day and through her life projecting self assurance and appearing to move toward her life goals with purpose. This was a wonderful way to begin my Saturday here at WVFC. Thank you for this gift. I am sailing off to the kitchen now where I will make my coffee, drink it sitting tall looking out at the urban scape and being grateful that I can always find words of beauty and truth here.