Teaching your daughter how to pose like a girl

Yesterday was picture day at my children’s school and, according to my kids, the girls were told to tilt their heads while boys were told to sit up straight.

Why is posing for school pictures an issue we ought to care about?

First of all, why is a kid taught to position her head according to what gender she is? How stupid is that?

Secondly, the classic female head tilt is one of the most annoying qualities of the ubiquitous, submissive princess. In coloring books, toy figures, and on diapers, female figures are most often positioned smiling, eyes lowered, and head tilted.

Imagine you are standing next to someone you love and admire, and that person is giving an important talk. How might you pose? Smiling with a head tilt? That would show you are attentive, supportive, and proud of him. Classic First Lady.

Now if you were the speaker delivering the talk, how might you pose? We’ve made those power positions into figures of speech: “Chin up!” or “Hold your head high” and even “Looking down your nose at someone.” That would be the opposite of a head tilt.

Say you’re Ann Romney and you’ve got to make a speech at the Republican convention. How might you pose to show how grateful, sweet, and non-threatening you still are?

Can you imagine Mitt doing this?

On Reel Girl, I’ve posted about gendered posing from the art of Edouard Manet to Wonder Woman. Ever wonder where our kids get trained to stand like a girl or a boy, besides by museums, toys, and politicians? Apparently, authority figures in America’s schools.

Update: I communicated with my kids’ school and was told by the principal that boys and adults were included in the head tilt, that he was asked to tilt his head ‘ever so slightly,’ but appreciates my concern, and will talk to them about it.

I’m psyched he got back to me right away and is talking to them about it. From what I heard from my kids, it wasn’t a slight head tilt, more like the princess kind, and they were telling me about the individual, not group, photos. Here is the web site from the photoform. What do you think of these images? (After you click, wait a second for them to come up)

35 thoughts on “Teaching your daughter how to pose like a girl

  1. Pingback: Links On Body Language | Lynley Stace

  2. Admittedly it’s been a long time since I had to take an individual school picture day photo but I remember everyone having to do the head tilt. I always found it awkward because I could sense that the photographer was lining up the shot… or more accurately trying to get my head to fit the frame he had already set up. I think our heads naturally tilt as we talk sometimes but it’s odd to force a head tilt in a picture. Another awkward part? The three-quarter turn. What does it matter what my body is doing if the picture is cut off at the shoulders?

  3. Aerial wolf hunting is as good as murder as a way to judge morality by me. I believe Sarah Palin IS a horrible person.
    And Hitler was an ‘embarrassment’ to humanity (very poor analogy) as a whole. Thank God Palin did not make it anywhere near the Whitehouse where she might have had enough power (if McCain had died) to ‘rise’ to his level.

      • Fine, we disagree, this thread isn’t about SP; I believe it’s about programming young girls to tilt their heads.. After hearing “Isn’t she beautiful”, ” Isn’t she pretty”, “Isn’t she cute” ad nauseum. Obviously, I believe boys hear ‘strong’, ‘smart’ and occasionally ‘adorable’ instead. And I don’t think this is without effect.
        The ‘head tilt’ later becomes ‘cross your legs’ (if sitting), kinda pigeon toe your feet and/or twist your legs unnaturally (look at the respective sexes in ads) in photos. Though I think these messages are conveyed as often, or more often by copying what we see. And then, if you’re really lucky, you’ll get all the way to – forget ’tilt your head’ – try ‘bedroom eyes’ and your mouth open (just enough…).
        And, please, teach your daughters a decent handshake too!

    • So Hitler is an embarresment to men? Regardless of what you think of Sarah Palin she is not a murderer (i.e. not a borrible person) and therefor your hate can not even be slightly justified.

      Your comment is not only hateful, but unreasonable.

  4. I have to say the Ann Romney comment was a bit unfair. You can catch anybody in a pose like that. Most politicians choose to do that creepy cold laugh.

    Also. What do you think of Sarah Palin? (Not politics wise)

  5. Every day my daughter comes home frustrated at how dumb girls act. Boys are supposed to think for themselves and girls are supposed to act like idiots.

    In my family photos both my boys and girls did the head tilt, perhaps the school should do that too.

    Not that my daughter doesn’t prance around in the way I suppose a princess would.

    My daughter’s boyfriend thought it was disgusting how Chris Brown is allowed to be played on the radio, and yet people say they are not going to watch Kristen Stewarts movies.

  6. Fight back! Teach your daughter to cuss, spit, and whistle between her teeth. Then take her out in the woods to kill some furry woodland creature that she has seen in a Disney movie. Dad will be happy to cook it, if an open fire is involved.
    Boys and girls are different. Deal with it.

  7. Oh my God…does the UN know about this? Maybe we can get them to issue a joint resolution. Something must be done to stop this horror.

  8. Drat, we were hoping no one would notice. Last week at the Patriarchy Club meeting we resolved to make sure girls tilt their heads when posing for pictures. Even if it’s only one degree different than a boy’s pose, that can mean the difference between a strong and independent woman (which we can’t stand) and a brutally oppressed one (which we love). But hats off to you for sniffing us out. Thanks to you, we’ll have to try ever more subtle tactics!

  9. Wow, I have honestly never thought of that. My daughter is starting to do that head tilt. When she dances, she puts her arms to the side and points her hands and fingers out with that head tilt. She said says thats how a princess dances.

    I’ve been talking to her about this princess crap. At first I told her she can not be a princess bc they go to school for a very long time and work hard, but it’s just getting worse. Her lovly grannie is showing her all these movies and I have no idea how many times she has watched them. She even buys her princess bowls and forks and knifes. :( it is SO frustrating.

    I sometimes think, I have to wait until she is older. She’s turning 4 in early Nov. but I don’t know. Most of my family is aware of how I feel about this, but my mother in law is clueless!
    From “boy clothes” to ” you’re so cute!” all the time makes me gag and is unfair.

    Any advice for a VERY frustrated mom?? Any special talks I should have with her? Thank you so much in advance!!

    • Hi Deborah,

      The head tilt is key to the princess pose! All the kids know that.

      Best strategy: instead of focusing on “anti-princess” trying to explain to your kid why they are not so great, bring other role models into your kids life. Look at Reel Girl’s movie and book recs. Look under categories “Reel GIrl recommends” and “GGG” and “HHH ratings,” and “books” and “movies.” Buy them or rent them. Get excited about them. I have found it makes a huge difference. Kids want your attention, so give it to them around cool role models.

      Please report back.

      MM

      • I teach college girls. To me, they are women in college; to them, they are girls who are having “Nights we won’t remember, with people we can’t/won’t forget”.

        College women, mostly, divide into classes, and the most popular class of women among the women themselves is the dress wearing women who ALL tilt their head. There is even Research, isn’t there always research?, that tilting one’s head = hot. And for many college women and their cohort, whom they call all varieties of names that are sexually demeaning, being hot or being considered hot, better yet, is a necessity.

        (http://www.cosmopolitan.com/celebrity/news/tilted-head-makes-women-attractive-study)

        I do not despair because I figure that some things are just generational, but…

    • I communicated with my kids’ school and was told by the principal that boys and adults were included in the head tilt, that he was asked to tilt his head ‘ever so slightly,’ but appreciates my concern, and will talk to them about it.

      I’m psyched he got back to me right away and is talking to them about it. From what I heard from my kids, it wasn’t a slight head tilt but more like the princess kind. Here is the web site from the photoform. What do you think of these images? (After you click, wait a second for them to come up)

  10. You’re kidding, right? ( actually I know you’re not… ). I must say, though, astonishing. I’d love to known the name of the photography studio. I know numerous mothers that would like to known the name. What a load of BS.