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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Smiles Interpreted

A human smile is a universal means of communication, customarily an expression of pleasure or amusement, but the smile can be an involuntary expression of anxiety known as a grimace. A smile is most often motivated by happiness. Among many animal species though, an exposure of teeth is used as a warning display (snarl) or a sign of submission. Doesn't the Homo sapien also exhibit a smile of warning? Research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has shown that smiles that reflect actual enjoyment include the activity of the outer muscle that circles the eye more often than when enjoyment is feigned. The smiles intended to conceal strong negative emotions frequently include muscular action around the lips and eyes linked to disgust, fear, contempt or sadness. In essence, this fake smile is one human body signal used to issue a warning. Interestingly, women tend to fake smiles more than men do and are more aware of these smiles. The reason a woman tends to fake more smiles is believed to be that when women become uncomfortable, they put on a smile to show they will do whatever they need to get through a situation. Women smile more to appease. This explanation certainly echoes an animal's teeth-baring submissions. So, yes, a woman's smile can mean, "You're a lucky man," or it can mean, "I'm just about ready to open up a can of whoop ass!" To confuse the issue of a smile's intended body language, research has shown women rate a man as more attractive after they've seen another woman smiling at him. By contrast, being a jealous bunch, male observers rate a man as less attractive after they’ve seen a woman smiling at him. Attractive male competition, for most men, means "three is a crowd." Yet, women are shooting those lovely smiles out like friendly and unfriendly rounds from a machine gun. So, guys, is she smiling to attract you, smiling to repel you, or simply smiling because some other woman has already dumbfounded you with her smile? And, if more than one woman smiles at you, are they all genuine, all faking, or all in a mixed bag of contact and avoidance? Further more, should we even care about a woman's smile or simply study her eyes for the answers? When we think of smiling, we think of the mouth, but many wise heads say that the eyes may actually be more essential to a warm, genuine smile. Smiling with the eyes is difficult to describe--in general the cheekbones lift slightly and the eyebrows dip a little. A woman would likely tell a man this advice about feminine eyes, "When you see it, you know it: it's that look of the eyes "lighting up" or "twinkling." Now, I'm not disputing the powerful attraction of a woman's eyes, but with mascara, eyeliner, false eyelashes, eyebrow pencils, colored contact lenses, foundations, and exotic eye shadow, how the heck are men supposed to judge deception and truth in a woman's eyes? Besides, how many males really remember even the color of an attractive woman's eyes? Especially after the guy has consumed a half dozen Miller Lites? We're pretty sure her eyes are fairly round and pretty confident that she possesses two of them. Other than that, the majority of us seem to get stuck on other parts of her anatomy. Then, often today, men notice a pretty girl's "twinkling" eyes "twinkling" at another pretty, smiling female. Sometimes PDA activity begins, and we men feel like ordering a double shot of oestrogen and Coke or a progesterone martini. Feeling unable to compete with all other "girly men" and all other women, we often feel like the Geico Cavemen. So, ladies, why not give us one huge frown when your first impression of us is negative? That way, we can turn away silently, drop our shoulders in rejection, return to the lonesome corner we came from, and gulp down another six pack. After all, we've already had to slam several drinks to get the courage up to get close to you. Then, right around closing time, we can survey the leftovers who now look better (if we can still see), decide we'd be better off without STD's or further humiliation, and walk home alone.
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