Smizing – Smiling with your eyes is the secret
By Wendy Steele, Keys CEO
Human ingenuity always amazes me, and I am seeing great things “here and there” now that our society is trying to move forward. Many things have changed and will never return to normal. The new normal is 2 meters of separation, avoiding crowds and wearing masks. Whether you agree or disagree with how things are being handled, change is inevitable, and growth is optional.
Masks are probably one change that will stick with us and make sense in many ways. In Japan, if you have a cold, you wear a mask. In Bejing, if you are exposed to allergens, you wear a mask. In San Francisco, if you ride a bike through the industrial areas, you wear a mask. Now, if you shop at Costco or the grocery store, you should wear a mask. I get that.
Our friends at Jams World have some cool looking masks. Theirs is the one I am wearing. I have also seen some super fashion statement masks that are very cute, and some are very cool. If we have to wear them, we might as well have some FUN. I am taking life’s changes in stride because it is more comfortable.
I have to admit that I have worn buffs and neck gaters for years. I wear them to protect my neck from the sun, and occasionally I would pull it up over my face as a sort of joke for friends. Not much fun these days, but it is a good option as well. People would ask me what I was wearing and why in a sort of judgemental way. I wrote them off as muggles. What I do and what I wear is my business, and people’s insecurities are theirs. Not mine. Yesterday, I went to pick up lunch from my favorite Southwestern restaurant, and when Monica walked out to my car with our lunch, she was wearing a very cute “bandito” neckerchief hiked up over her mouth and nose. It was damned cute, and I knew that I had made the new order transition because I felt like asking her where she bought it. So, I am back to wearing my neck gaters because they are so much more fun than a surgical mask.
IMS – Get Over It.
I have seen some very terrifying masks, which is what inspired this article. Sometimes, it is not the mask that bothers me; it is the eyes of the wearer.
So the topic of this article is a kind of RBF story or to be more specific, IMS. Irritable Mask Syndrome is genuine and seems to be caused by various things. Some have told me that masks are an invasion of identity or uncomfortable. One said having to wear one is unconstitutional. Some feel self-conscious while others seem to like that they can hide behind one.
I was out walking, which I do a lot. Most of the time, I don’t see anyone, and sometimes, these days, when I do see people, they have their masks on. One day, just recently, I saw someone who was wearing a mask and stressed at having to wear it. Even though her mask covered most of her face, it was a clear case of IMS. I thought, how is that possible. How can her negative appearance scream out so much that I noticed her temperament wearing a big mask? We passed quite away from each other, and there was no attempt at a gesture or acknowledging of me. In some ways, it reminded me of being in New York City three weeks after 9.11. It stunned me a bit that this ‘no-no’ bothered me so much. Usually, I do not let people annoy me, but she did. I was mad at me for having the feelings, not her. About a mile down the road, I saw another masked woman headed toward me. As she passed, her eyes glistened and sparkled. Her eyes were smiling, and with my eyes, I smiled back and waved to acknowledge her. It suddenly dawned on me that the first woman had terror or anger in her eyes, which affected me, and this second woman made me feel good. All with their eyes only.
Oh No, I thought, do I have IMS? So when I got back home, I kept my mask on and looked into the bathroom mirror. Thankfully, I did not have IMS, but I wondered, “Could I practice smiling with my eyes?” What would that look like, and how hard could it be. Damned hard, I found out.
Smizing – The Duchenne Smile
The second woman started it with her smiling eyes, and I mirrored her. That was easy. It was automatic. What I discovered is that it is both an art and talent to be able to initiate smiling eyes. So, I grabbed my iPad and looked up “how to smile with your eyes” and surprise-surprise; there were many articles with most talking about something called a Duchenne smile.
A Duchenne smile involves contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle (which raises the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi muscle (which raises the cheeks and forms crow’s feet around the eyes). The Duchenne smile has been described as “smizing,” as in “smiling with the eyes.”
So, I texted an actress friend of mine and asked her if she knew about the Duchenne smile. She laughed at me and told me she spent almost a year in an acting class trying to learn to smile with her eyes, and it was quite hard to master until she stopped trying. She said it comes from the soul, and when you smile naturally, your eyes squint and raise a bit. Little bags form under the eyes, and there you have it. She said it is the opposite of Instagram’s face because you don’t look perfect. You look happy and excited to be alive as opposed to trying to impress. Her best lesson for me was to be comfortable at smiling at everyone all the time. She said you would get better at it.
So, I tried it in the mirror, and it was true. That little squint made my eyes sparkle, and I was even happier feeling. So, I tried it with my mask, and it worked. I just made up that I did not have a mask, and my eyes do all the work since my face was covered.
So try smiling at your cellphone and do a bunch of selfies before and afters. You will be amazed. Now do the same thing with your mask on and notice how you feel. Then go out and practice on everyone you walk by to see what their reaction is.
So if you are like me, you have to believe that the world would be a better place if everyone smiled at each other. Now we have to wear masks, so we have to work a bit harder at it.
Lastly, here is a link to a great how-to article about how to master the Duchenne smile. https://www.wikihow.com/Smile-With-the-Eyes
Also, here is a good short video I found that describes the Duchenne smile that was a help for me.