A friend was visiting, and he grabbed his own gut and jiggled it. I laughed and told him never to do that because it’s terribly unattractive. He sat up straight and informed me that he wasn’t trying to attract anyone in the room. Touche!
Attractiveness is subjective, and highly depends on what we are looking to attract. In the case of my friend, our little encounter attracted a laugh.
As women, when we are out and about, we need to think about what we are doing to make ourselves attractive- or preferably unattractive to an attacker. Contrary to popular general ideas, vulnerability is the most attractive attribute to an attacker- not age, not prettiness, not weight, or style, etc. Vulnerability is what attracts bad guys, whether they are going for rape, robbery, or even a nice long abusive relationship.
Remember that every bad guy is a good guy in his own mind and does what he does because he needs a sense of power and control in his life. Also keep the bad guy’s top priorities in mind: He doesn’t want a fight, and he doesn’t want to get caught. Let’s look at what we do to attract or repel this type of person.
Vulnerable (what the potential predator looks for):
- “Small” body language
- Looks down or away
- Quiet voice
- “Busy” with phone, etc.
Empowered (what deters the would-be attacker):
- Not distracted- about her business even if it is just a stroll.
- Sits/stands straight
- Fills own space (no small body language)
- Looks people in the eye
- Strong voice
The woman projecting vulnerability is probably not going to fight or even be able to give a description: attractive. The EMPOWERED woman projects that if he tries anything with her, he will get a fight. She looks him in the eye, which can be a turn-off to him because she has seen his face and wordlessly told him so: unattractive.
Sure, all this sounds easy enough- but what happens when you DO feel nervous or scared? PRETEND. Yup that is the time to try out your acting skills and “fake it ‘till you make it.” Here is a great video on body language- Amy Cuddy on Ted Talks: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are: http://www.youtube.com/
So as you are walking through an area that makes you nervous, or around people that you are nervous about; do the “wonder woman pose” in your head. Force yourself to look them in the eye, and get through. If they say something, use your progressive boundary setting (visual, verbal, and physical) as needed. Have an inner mantra of (I am strong, I am walking strong, my voice is strong) and project confidence.
Lastly, Treat Them Like They’re Two, and Tell Them What to Do! If someone is bothering you- sitting too close, discounting your “No”, etc. Redirect them: 1. Name the behavior (“you are sitting too close to me”). 2. Tell how it affects you (“that makes me uncomfortable”). 3. Direct them to a different behavior (“you need to go sit over there.”).
Now I say “treat them like they’re two” because humans generally know how to speak to a tw0-year old. We use an authoritative voice, and we do not put them down, but we give them clear direction. We do not demean him, we just tell him what to do. It is important to give the guy a way out so he can save face. He may call you a name, or grumble on his way out. That’s okay. Let him go, and you get to safety.