You might have noticed that rarely anyone is smiling in old-timey photographs and paintings. I’ve always chalked it up to the fact that there was no running water back then. I’d look pretty dour too if I had to bathe in a bucket. Well, it turns out that, up until the 20th century, smiling in a portrait was only for those meant to be frowned upon. According to Nicholas Jeeves of the Public Domain, portraiture was meant to capture a “moral certainty” rather than a moment:
“By the 17th century in Europe, it was a well-established fact that the only people who smiled broadly, in life and in art, were the poor, the lewd, the drunk, the innocent, and the entertainment.”
In one of his letters, Mark Twain echoed Jeeves’ sentiment:
“A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever.”
If only the people posting selfies on Facebook and Instragram still abided by these rules. [The Atlantic]
After that mild controversy we stirred up over strangers telling us to smile, this graphic, from illustrator Kris Atomic perfectly illuminates my feelings on the subject. If you feel like this applies to you, Ms. Atomic even offers this illustration as a poster – one which could be easily stapled to your forehead, or worn as a hat. Click through to see the poster enlarged.
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Once upon a time, the highest paid actor or actress in Hollywood was someone who had a bit more gravitas than “Twilight.” But Kristen Stewart has topped Forbes magazine’s list of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, cashing in with $34.5 million in the past year.
This doesn’t sit well with Kathie Lee Gifford, who just doesn’t understand why the Kristen won’t smile. Join the club, KLG. And she even goes so far as to offer smiling lessons, although I think we can agree Tyra does it better. Now, what’s this about K-Stew’s “back end”?
Don’t tell Hayley to turn her frown upside down. She’s not trying to be a Debbie Downer, she is just incapable of smiling or moving her face at all for that matter. The 14-year-old suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Moebius Syndrome. People with this disorder are born missing vital nerves and sometimes limbs. This often impairs their ability to speak, blink, chew, or move their face. In Hayley’s case, her speech is very limited, her face is paralyzed, she has no hands, sleeps with her eyes open, and suffers with severe digestive issues. I dare you to try to complain about your problems now. [The Sun] Continue reading
How many times a day do you smile? Chances are it might not be enough. Smiling can change your mood, making you feel happy even when you didn’t think you could. Think about it — people are always busy, whether they’re late to work, shopping around, or running errands. We often forget how easy it is to smile and the significant effect it can have on improving your perspetive. If happiness is not enough of an incentive to start smiling, well, for the hell of it, then maybe getting a beach bod is. While smiling may not directly burn calories, it might lead to a good laugh, which could burn anywhere from 10 to 40 calories per day! Science, people! After the jump, find out five more reasons to smile just because. Continue reading
People with ugly driver’s license photos, the state of Virginia feels your pain. The Department of Motor Vehicles in Virginia banned smiles—yes, smiles—and ordered all new photo-takers to make a “neutral expression” in their portraits. The DMV would like to develop a facial recognition system to standardize documentation and thwart fraudsters and identity thieves. OK, Big Brother, whatever you say.
Just a cranky DMV clerk barking “No smiling!” isn’t enough, though! The DMV’s software can detect and reject “attempts at exuberance or human warmth,” meaning if you flash some dimples or let your pearly whites crack through your lips, a computer will make you take your picture again.
Even though Virginia is just one of 37 DMV agencies nationwide to use the facial recognition software, Virginian drivers aren’t pleased. Groused one driver, “It makes everyone look like criminals.” [Washington Post]