Good looks… good presentations… are an ensemble of structure and animation.

When things “go pear-shaped,” it means that they are going awry, horribly wrong. I heard this usage several years ago. But there’s a prior usage where pear-shaped simply refers to a body wider at the hips and narrower at the shoulders. I heard this usage from my mother about her body.

Kids study the adults they depend on. Kids learn by absorption. As I grew, my mother became my hero. I adored the pictures of her when she was young – in college, with my dad, etc. I thought she was beautiful.

Contrasting with that I remember, when my sister and I were in grade school, how my mother hated to be seen in a bathing suit. She said she’d gone pear-shaped, you see, in both senses of the word.

Now I am older and I too have gone pear-shaped, at least in body. Is it nature (genes)? Is it nurture (unconscious emulation of my hero)?

I noticed these last several years that I’ve had to push myself to go out to be seen in public. Most especially for conferences and presentations. Of course, you don’t usually make conference presentations while wearing a bathing suit, but the principal was the same: showing yourself to a bunch of strangers. For the good of the cause I did it, wincing at pictures taken of me.

Then an interesting thing happened. I had renewed a connection with a prior instructor who’d worked with me when I was more svelte and with whom I am working now, a decade later.  Of course she saw the extra pounds and even chided me a bit to push away from the table for my exercise. But then, god bless her, she told me I was handsome and that, sure I could lose a few tens of pounds, but that it in no way hindered my looks. Hmm…

Recently I’ve been using a webcam in some of my Skype meetings. It’s interesting to be able to watch YOUR body presentation as well as your colleague’s.

I use a lot of facial animation and vocal expression together when I speak. I remember my dad’s brother who used to do the same. I realized this creates energy and attraction. Lately I’ve started moving my arms more, and watching how other people move; their hands as well as their upper body and facial features. The way they stand. I interject the occasional humming tune or whistled theme, or lord help my audience, a corny joke once in a while. It sustains the energy. It entertains the attention. It communicates.

Good looks… good presentation… are an ensemble of structure and animation, I think.

So back to pear-shaped… I looked it up in Wikipedia and it turns out pear-shaped has multiple meanings including, “rich and sonorous.” In fact, the real distinction is simply that “pear-shaped” is different from “perfect-circle-shaped.” So if you want a perfect circle, pear-shaped is bad. But if you want an interesting, rich shape, pear-shaped is good.

So on this little odyssey we’ve discovered that pear-shaped can be good. Also that it’s good to listen to your friends as well as emulate your heroes.

May we all have the ability to be pear-shaped and perfect-circle-shaped as the occasion demands…

PS My mother is still my hero, and of course she went pear-shaped in the best senses of the word – rich and sonorous and wonderful.


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