From the Angelina Jolie leg to Lady Gaga's 'toothache', celebrity red carpet poses decoded

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer
We asked a body language expert to decode the meaning behind the most popular celebrity red carpet poses [Photo: Getty]

Awards season is well underway with Hollywood’s starriest names hopping from one red carpet to another in a bid to promote their latest project (whilst demonstrating their fashion know-how of course).

But it can prove difficult to know which pose to strike when attempting a ‘candid’ Instagram snap let alone a photocall. So how do A-listers navigate the camera flashes so effortlessly?

From Lady Gaga‘s now-viral ‘toothache’ pose to the classic Angelina Jolie-inspired leg, we asked author and body language expert, Judi James, to decode famous celebrity red carpet poses and the secret meanings behind them. 

Lady Gaga’s ‘toothache’ poses

It seems Lady Gaga has perfected her go-to red carpet pose [Photo: Getty]

Coined by Garage magazine, Lady Gaga’s go-to pose is the ‘toothache’. First spotted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018, the singer posed for a photocall with her left hand across her mouth while pulling a faux shocked expression.

A few weeks later, the ‘A Star is Born’ actress carried out the pose once more at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. Fast forward to the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 27, 2019 and surprise, the 32-year-old was clutching her face yet again.

But what is the meaning behind her newfound pose?

According to body language expert Judi James, Lady Gaga has perfected the art of a “chatty” pose which suggests “more intellect and less cheese” in comparison to the classic hands-on-hip stance.

“The poser implies she’s sharing an ironic joke about the whole red carpet posing ritual with the viewer,” she explains. “It’s jokily bashful and very slightly self-effacing to suggest the star doesn’t really take herself too seriously.”

Lady Gaga posed with her engagement ring at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s 3rd Annual Patron Of The Artists Awards in November 2018 [Photo: Getty]

It’s also interesting to note, that Lady Gaga first started posing with her left hand in full view of the camera shutters shortly after getting engaged to longterm boyfriend Christian Carino.

“The pose can also double as a public announcement about relationship status to the fans,” James explains. “If the left hand is the one being raised up near the face for maximum exposure it’s often that ring or lack of it on the ring finger that’s the real message being promoted.”

Interestingly, the singer swapped hands in the run-up to calling off her engagement [Photo: Getty]

However, the couple recently called off the forthcoming marriage and the most recent images show the singer using her right hand to strike the pose instead – perhaps a subtle sign that she knew the relationship was coming to an end?

The Angelina Jolie pose

Ever since Angelina Jolie’s leg went viral in 2012, a number of A-listers have followed suit [Photo: Getty]

As soon as Angelina Jolie graced the red carpet at the 2012 Oscars, the actress went viral courtesy of her now-famous erm, leg.

A Twitter account dedicated to the celebrity limb and seven years worth of star-studded events later,  A-listers continue to follow in her footsteps.

According to body language expert Judi James, the now-popular pose is a demonstration of confidence and could hint at a star’s desire to pursue bigger dreams within the industry.

“The thrusting elbow in the style of Angelina suggests a partial state of aggressive arousal, which in turn signals confidence, assertiveness and possibly a hint that you don’t mess with this star,” James tells Yahoo UK.

“If the elbow is held lower it can be all about old-fashioned glamour but the higher and more acute the angle of the elbow the more the celebrity might be suggesting a desire to move into Hollywood leadership roles, like directing.”

Interestingly, Jolie has gone on to direct a number of films since that leg moment from ‘Unbroken’ to ‘First They Killed My Father’.

The red carpet air kiss

What does it mean when A-listers blow kisses to the camera? [Photo: Getty]

The air kiss has long reigned the red carpet and was commonplace among Disney alumni such as Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande.

Although it’s no longer a go-to move for a lot of A-listers, Judi James emphasises that it’s a move utilised by celebrities who want to “create a cheeky tie-sign that will communicate with their fans via the camera lens”.

“This is all about retro, Monroe-esque glamour and cheese,” she explains to Yahoo UK. “If the star bends forward to blow an exaggerated kiss it can suggest above-average levels of attention-seeking but as a smaller kiss-blowing gesture it will look like a desire to be cute and rather sweet.”

After close inspection, it seems Hollywood starlets are more likely to adopt the pose while Lady Gaga is famous for thanking her ‘little monsters’ at prestigious events.

The bump cradle pose

Why do pregnant celebrities cradle their baby bumps on the red carpet? [Photo: Getty]

In recent months, the Duchess of Sussex‘s blossoming baby bump has been closely documented by the media with fans questioning why the royal is frequently photographed clutching her stomach.

“Thanks to Meghan Markle, the baby bump is the ultimate style accessory on this year’s red carpets,” Judi James explains. “And like Meghan, it’s all about presenting the bump with pride and excitement – using both hands when possible.”

But what about when the celebrity’s partner is captured stroking the baby bump?

“Being pregnant and having your partner alongside can be a massive power statement in Hollywood, where celeb marriages rarely last to the end of the vows,” she adds. “It’s an achievement thing that suggests success even if the celebrity doesn’t manage to win an actual award on the night.”

The over-the-shoulder stance

The over the shoulder stance is a red carpet move favoured by the model pack [Photo: Getty]

A red carpet pose favoured by the millennial set – we’re talking Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin – the over-the-shoulder stance is performed in a bid to “look sexy but in a classy, non-obvious or desperate way”, according to Judi James.

“This way, the cleavage gets swapped for some shoulder blades but it’s the lingering and often smouldering backward glance that nails it in terms of flirtatious sexuality and impact,” she explains.

The red carpet twirl

Why do some A-listers decide to twirl on the red carpet? [Photo: Getty]

Who could forget that well-Instagrammed moment when actress Lupita Nyong’o let her Gucci gown feel the breeze by twirling across the Cannes Film Festival red carpet back in 2015?

Ever since, the exaggerated pose has become commonplace with A-listers flaunting their designer clobber in front of the cameras. But it well could be a sign of competition.

“This pose tends to trump all the others during a competitive red carpet parade of celebrities as the dress flares out to encompass maximum space – preventing other stars from getting too close and stealing the moment,” Judi James tells Yahoo UK.

“Photographers love movement too so the shots win on impact when other stars might be trawling their more static and traditional looks.”

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Read more from Yahoo Style UK:

Brits 2019: The best dressed celebrities – and those who missed the mark

The Golden Globes 2019: All the celebrity red carpet fashion

Academy Awards: Best Oscars dresses of all time