VP hopeful Kamala Harris has a nickname, given to her by her stepchildren, that the public has latched onto: “Momala,” which, in addition to rhyming with her first name, is Yiddish for “little mama” (per Parents). Harris’ stern, displeased mother demeanor was the punchline in a Saturday Night Live parody last weekend of the first presidential debate; Maya Rudolph, portraying Harris, instructed her running mate and the president to behave themselves, before she offered them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In fact, Harris’ Momala routine has made her a force to be reckoned with in the Democratic primary debates; referring to herself as being disappointed by her current running mate’s record on race made her the clear winner of the evening (per The New Yorker).
So how will Harris’ maternal instincts play out this week, when she faces off against incumbent Mike Pence at the vice presidential debate? According to body language expert and psychologist Dr. Reneé Carr, who is also a political and corporate advisor, the California senator has a facial expression that every mother watching will recognize as a sign that, “It’s about to go down!” she told The List.
Body language expert breaks down Kamala Harris' "mom moves"
According to Carr, Harris has an instinctive tendency to go into what she calls her “oh no sister mode” when she’s gearing up to pounce on her opponent. This is a tendency that she tries to tone down. “If she catches herself doing that subconsciously, you’ll see her at the very next time probably amplifying the enunciation of her words to try to cover the, oh, I went back into my little ‘around the way girl’ mode for a second,” said Carr. Moms who are about to set things straight will see themselves in Harris’ facial expression, she added. “Also, when she gets frustrated, her nose flares, so you can tell that she’s getting irritated — which is another mom move. When I see her being emotional, she does stereotypical mom-based movements.”
That being said, some viewers will be turned off by the toughness of Momala Kamala Harris. “Not every female wants to see a female who’s just so pro-femininity or so pro-female,” Carr pointed out. “Not every minority wants you to focus on just minority issues. So before, when she was opposing Joe Biden, she would say, ‘You got to go, Joe,’ and talking more of a rough language,” she explained. “And if she were to do that, that would not fare well for her.”
Why Kamala Harris' 'Momala' spells trouble for Mike Pence
While Harris has the ability and opportunity to portray confidence and aggressiveness, Pence — because of his boisterous running mate — is forced to take a more deferential role, which may not project the same degree of strength to debate watchers as Harris. The vice president can’t get away with being so forceful, particularly after Trump’s performance last week, Carr noted. “What I would expect from him is for him [is to use] demonstrative body language to show that he is giving way to his opponent. He may go like, ‘Sure. Kamala, what do you think?’ He’ll do this as a way to show that ‘I’m giving you the floor, I’m being respectful,'” Carr explained. “And he will probably use language — ‘if I could just say something here’ — so that he’s showing that ‘I’m going to say something, but I’m not being too aggressive,'” she added.
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