Rebooting the smile for 2013
If you’re like me, you’ve gotten really tired of the same old facial expressions over and over again. It’s 2013, and I find it hard to believe that we still rely on the same social cues that people employed 50,000 years ago. Take the smile, for instance — I understand that it’s pretty much involuntary, but with a little work, we can change some details about smiles to really kick them into high gear for the 21st century.
First let’s look at the old 2012 smile.
Nothing special here. Soft eyes, broad grin. Certainly it has a lot going for it — it’s no wonder it’s been used for this long. But it’s become a cliche. It’s not a challenging smile. It’s not a smile that pushes any boundaries. Frankly, we only have one life, and one face to smile with. We’re missing a huge opportunity on a daily basis to do something special with it.
The 2012 smile doesn’t create much engagement, and I think that’s because it’s so commonplace — it’s very mild, unassuming. This is a smile that’s stared back at you from a million family photos. Notice the lack of tension in the lip: tension isn’t needed for a natural smile, but the musculature of the mouth is so precise and so complex. Why waste it like this?
Here’s my solution.
Look at the sudden brightness, the clarity in the eye. There’s an exactingness to it that really captures the viewer. It’s not about changing the opening of the eyelids, either — flexing the small muscles in the orbit completely redefine the appearance.
There’s a lot more going on in the lip area. That plain, soft smirk needed a major overhaul. Here you can now see a hint of tooth — not necessarily aggression but presence. This also changes the lip action from comfortable complacence to laser focus. We’re moving well out of the revisiting of 1970s fashion and its soft organic curves, and are now into the modern hard lines of the 1980s. This should be reflected on the face and mouth.
The result is a sharper, bolder smile for 2013. It takes a little work (even I forget to do it sometimes!), but the extra attention is well worth it.