Recently, I read an article “18 body language clues that say he’s interested — definitely,” and I laughed. I laughed because the article assumed every man and/or woman is the same race – of course, this is my assumption of what the article assumed. There are thousands of such articles online, in magazines, books and whatever fora these authors/writers think they can use to attract you (pun intended). Cosmopolitan is especially notorious for such assumptive writing. In fact, their article on the issue raises the number to 20: “20 Body Language Signs That Mean He’s Into You.”
Let’s not talk about what the “he’s into you” in that title conjured up in my mind. I assume you can read the language. Isn’t context a funny mind-warping thing? In a different (context) sentence those words “… into you” will be innocuous, but in the context of an article that talks about attraction … But, again, I laughed. I laughed too, because of the pictorial used in the article – a broken heart and a whole heart – assuming the one (broken) or the other (whole) is the case if you use the wrong body language or if you use the correct body language. And what was with those pictures and memes and gifs? Again, I laughed.
That article assumes everyone you meet would’ve have read it (or similar wasted articles) and as such will understand what you’re saying silently bodily. I laughed. When I read it, I imagined going to Tsabong, and trying to use the sign language(s) on a rural girl who cannot read – a book, talk less of body language. Imagine. Then I thought maybe I will just play her a song, but wait, they do say something in songs – so it’s no longer silent or physical. Ah, what the hell, I will just play her Kid Ink’s song, Body Language, and see what happens. That’s, assuming she is trying to say something.
In the chorus of the song Body Language, Usher and Tinashe sing:
It’s not a lot that you’ve been saying, whoa.
But I can tell from your body language
Let’s talk about it (’bout it)
Is you ’bout it?
Let’s talk about it
Can we talk about it?
You ain’t gotta say too much
Ain’t gotta say too much
I can read your body language
You ain’t gotta say too much
I can read your body language
Is it me or does anyone else notice Tinashe hardly says anything in this song? Is there a hidden language behind her lack of presence/speech in this song? Talk about presumptive subliminal messaging. Smart Kid Ink! And let’s not get into the argument that the guy assumes the girl wants him, “being stuck up is gon’ leave you lonely for the night.” And the refrain, “Let’s talk about it,” needless to say, this song makes me laugh.
Anyway, back to the issue at hand. The first known experts to consider aspects of body language were probably the ancient Greeks, notably Hippocrates and Aristotle, through their interest in human personality and behavior, and the Romans, notably Cicero, relating gestures to feelings and communications. Much of this early interest was in refining ideas about oration – speech making – considering this was important in leadership and government. But body Language has come a long way since Hippocrates (pardon the pun) and his fellow philosophers who thought they could tell what you were saying when you were saying nothing. Anyone who has been in a relationship with a guy that dumps her after two years, and realized the guy had been unhappy since the third month into the relationship will tell you where you can go stuff the article on body language. But, body language has become a significant aspect of modern communications and relationships, and anyone who has been following developing trends on it will know that body language goes both ways – remember Usher says in that song that you cannot “judge a book by it’s cover.”:
- Your own body language reveals your feelings and meanings to others.
- Other people’s body language reveals their feelings and meanings to you.
The sending and receiving of body language signals happens on conscious and unconscious levels. Body language, and more technically the study of body language, is also known as kinesics (pronounced ‘kineesicks’ – pun intended), which is derived from the Greek word kinesis, meaning motion. I am not going to bother myself in this article with how you can attract a man or woman with your body language because it’s an exercise in ironic social skills. I mean, if you can attract your man/woman with these signs, so can anyone else who knows them. So what are you going to do, make sure everyone else doesn’t know a thing about attracting a man/woman silently? I mean you could be sitting with your man/woman and a man/woman is using a body language you haven’t read about to attract your man/woman. Do you recall Usher saying “fuck who you came with … let’s leave before the light’s on.” Damn, he can see without light. Or wait, does “before the light’s on,” mean before your man/woman realizes what’s going on? Let’s assume he means you’re in the dark (about the body language used), what are you going to do, make sure you read every article on body language? Good luck.
One other thing, do you know what (cultural or otherwise) body language the man/woman you’re trying to pick up speaks? In case you missed it, Usher says “now girl keep it G. know you speak a lil freak/I can hear it in yo accent.” That’s why here, my focus will be on the cultural aspects of sign language. Let me put it differently, body language effected by culture. Here goes.
Before you touch your lower eyelid at an international gathering think twice. If there were a Saudi in the crowd he would think you are calling him stupid. But a Spanish lady will rush over to you thinking you are making a pass at her.
Thrust your palm in public and it could cost you your hand if a Greek is around – he would think you are calling him a thief: the thrust of the palm is known as the “Moutza”.
Next time your earlobe itches in public, think very well before you tug at it. This gesture means five different things, four of them very insulting:
- To a Spaniard it means “You rotten parasite”
- To a Maltese it means, “You are a sneaky bastard”
- To an Italian it means, “Get lost you homosexual”
- To a Greek it means, “Watch it mate”
- To a Portuguese it means, “Hang around sweetie”
When you hold your thumb and index finger together to form an “o”:
- In America it means, “Everything is a-ok”
- In France it means, “Zero”
- In Japan it means “Money”
- In Tunisia it means, “I’ll kill you”
- In Colombia it means, “You rogue”
If you hold your nose with a thumb and a finger, you are telling a Syrian to “go to hell” and when you tap your temple with your index finger as we normally do when we pass a bad driver on the road, depending on the situation, it could mean intelligence or stupidity. And next time you stick up a thumb to hitch a ride, you should remember you are telling a Sardinian to “fuck off”
Now, if you think your body language cannot get you bodily harm, read this:
An American rushes into an international airport terminal, for the sake of my safety I will not cite an airport, his fluffy wife closely behind, thinking they are late for their flight. On enquiry, he is told the flight has been delayed for thirty minutes. The relieved American turns to his fluffy, breathless wife, and makes the finger and thumb ring, meaning everything is “ok”. Unfortunately, at the time he is looking at a Colombian, who is enjoying a cup of badly made coffee. The Colombian, enraged by the deadly obscenity, which he assumes is directed at him, chokes on his coffee and catches at his nose with his index finger and thumb. A Syrian sitting close by, trying to sell something to a Greek looks up and sees the Colombian. He is enraged by the Colombian’s gesture – he thinks the Colombian is telling him to “go to hell” the Greek restrains him from getting up and punching the stupid Colombian on his bloody nose. Meanwhile, an efficient airport official hurries over and attempts to calm the situation with two out-thrust palms. This gesture of course is taken by the Greek to be a double “Moutza”, and in his rage, he neatly skewers the unfortunate official’s hand with a long knife.
Copyright © Fani-Kayode Omoregie 2016
 Kid Ink, ft Usher and Tinashe. (2015). Body Language. Full Speed. RCA Records.