Which gesture is used in the following situations: the young child arguing with his parent, the athlete waiting for his event to begin and the boxer in the dressing-room waiting for the bout to start?
In each instance, the individual is seen standing with the hands-on-hips pose, for this is one of the most common gestures used by man to communicate an aggressive attitude.
Some observers have labelled this gesture 'readiness' which in the right context is correct, but the basic meaning is aggression. It has also been called the achiever stance, related to the goal-directed individual who uses this position when he is ready to tackle his objectives. These observations are correct because in both cases the person is ready to take action about something, but it still remains an aggressive, forward-moving gesture. Men often use this gesture in the presence of women to show an aggressive, dominant male attitude.
It is interesting to note that birds fluff their feathers to make themselves appear bigger when they are fighting or courting; humans use the hands-on-hips gesture for the same purpose, that is, to make themselves appear bigger. Males will use it as a non-verbal challenge to other males who enter their territory.
It is also important to consider the circumstances and gestures immediately preceding the hands-on-hips pose to make a correct assessment of the person's attitude. Several other gestures can further support your conclusion. For example, is the coat
open and pushed back on to the hips, or is it buttoned when the aggressive pose is taken? Closed coat readiness shows aggressive frustration, whereas coat open and pushed back (Figure 98) is a directly aggressive pose because the person is openly exposing his heart and throat in a non-verbal display of fearlessness. This position can be further reinforced by placing the - feet evenly apart on the ground or by adding clenched fists to the gesture cluster.
The aggressive-readiness clusters are used by professional models to give the impression that their clothing is for the modem, aggressive, forward-thinking woman. Occasionally the gesture may be done with only one hand on the hip and the other displaying another gesture (Figure 99). Critical evaluation gestures are often seen with the hands-on-hips pose.
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