If yous’ve ever experienced the misfortune of taking a photograph of yourself that will end up on the internet, you accept contemplated the weight of the following question: How should I move the muscles in my face up to communicate my identity in the nearly socially right manner possible?
For many of us, the respond is clear: a smile, with teeth! And nonetheless thanks to the proliferation of social media, dating apps, and technology that makes taking selfies infuriatingly addicting (curse yous, portrait mode), human beings are now forced to pose for more than photos than at any other point in history. And in that span of time, we’ve had to introduce.
Selfie trends are non new, exactly. Since the dawn of duckface in the mid-2000s — the act of pursing i’southward lips and pushing them forward as if leaning in for a especially theatrical kiss — we’ve replaced information technology with “sparrow confront,” “migraine confront,” belfies, T-rex easily, Bambi-ing, and that weird affair where teens encompass their entire face with one hand, thus eliminating the purpose of a selfie in the first place.
Nearly all of said selfie crazes are performed by women, and nosotros rarely talk over the ones percolating among men. Merely all along, there has been a single face that’due south gone entirely unnoticed for the by decade-plus of its existence. It is this: raised eyebrows, and tightened lips.
This face is everywhere. Though I have surely washed it at 1 bespeak or another, it is especially prevalent amidst guys who are somewhere in between teenagehood and center age, the menstruation of life virtually fraught with questions and doubts about ane’s identify in the earth. It is a face that expresses this uncertainty — it is both happy and sorry, surprised and indifferent, hopeful and contemptuous, studied and spontaneous.
And for a very long time, I despised it. Every time I’d see a beat out doing it on Instagram (a lot!) I would experience a deep, full-bodied pang of cringiness. To me, it always recalled the fraudulent “who, me?” poses of early 2000s pop-punk lead singers, an expression of nice-guyness reserved for dudes who would later on ask you for nudes via MySpace.
Today, though, I retrieve the face communicates a certain earth-weariness that I detect incredibly relatable. The bewilderment of the raised eyebrows is offset by a tautness in the mouth that reads equally disappointment. The eyes, too, often have a sure deadness about them. Which, same!
According to body language expert Traci Brown, what the confront is really broadcasting is that the person doesn’t really want to be taking the photo in the first place. “There’s no smile — their eyes are kind of broad. They’re doing it considering they have to, similar they’re forced into information technology,” she told me over the telephone recently. It makes sense, and then, that men might be more likely to brand a face that screams, “I am uncomfortable!” while participating in an deed that is frequently coded as feminine.
When I showed her a photo of professionally abrasive 20-yr-old social media phenom Nash Grier making the face up, Chocolate-brown described information technology: “He’southward not showing emotion like he really wants to exist there. He’s like, ‘Ah, I gotta take this picture show.’ When his eyebrows are raised, that shows emphasis on a certain point. So he’s only trying to emphasize that he doesn’t want to exercise it.”
To find out why so many youngish men who are non former teen Vine stars are making this face, I asked a diverseness of them. Every bit information technology turns out, at that place are a lot of reasons, from a want to hibernate 1’southward “jacked-up teeth” to an attempt to erase all the sadness from one’southward face and create a facsimile of happiness. Spoiler: A lot of the reasons are sort of dark!
They don’t know how to make whatsoever other faces
“First, it avoids crazy eyes — not all of u.s. can smize like Tyra. Second, information technology’south hard to get a real grin (with teeth!) right without looking similar a goober. It took me roughly 1,500 selfies during my trip to Peru to get my easy, breezy, and convincing selfie smiling down. Third, information technology mimics the face you make when you lot see someone and recollect, ‘Ah, what a nice surprise!’ Last but not to the lowest degree, it’south exactly what comes up when you Google ‘Confident Face.’ Try it.”
—Max Garelick, 26, works in finance
“You start off wanting to become a selfie where y’all wait natural, happy, and attractive, but in every flick, your eyes are airtight or you lot grinning like a series killer. Afterward, similar, five attempts, you just do the face up and so at to the lowest degree you take a shoot with your eyes open [and] you don’t look totally pissed off at the globe, and call it a day. Guys but don’t take the patience to have a good selfie.”
—C.J. Martinez, 26, producer
“Why do I make the face? A few reasons:
- When I force a smiling, information technology looks like an conflicting trying to replicate a human grinning for the beginning time.
- When I printing my lips together, my eyebrows kind of naturally ascension, which does give an added do good of reducing my fivehead dorsum downward to a forehead.
- Unsure why I regularly include some sort of hand gesture. Thumbs-up, peace sign, hang loose, I’m also working on reclaiming the ‘OK’ mitt sign. I think the hand just kind of helps fill out some of the negative space in the photo, or perhaps it distracts the viewer from my confront (another bonus).
“All of this is probably just made upward to make myself feel good and I do it totally subconsciously.”
—Kyle Jackson, 29, project manager
It screams “fun guy!”
“This is a confront that says, ‘I’m kind of fun!’ only still reminds you, the viewer, ‘I am a tough, serious dude, and I barely have time to engage in such trivial things every bit selfies.’ It’southward the pictorial equivalent of putting exactly 1 foot in the pool, so I’one thousand participating but not vulnerable in whatsoever real manner, considering who cares about looks? I need to grow up.”
—Alex Kirshner, 24, higher football writer
“This face is a male equivalent of the duckface. It’south an entry-level, go-to, easy-to-pull-off pose for a man to utilize in a photograph without much effort or take chances. I commonly choose not to make this face in any photo taken of me. Instead, I opt for a laugh/smile that instead makes me and then squinty it looks like my eyes are closed because I’m blinded past the sunday. Besides not a expert look, but information technology’s really all I’ve got. I think bros make this face considering they believe information technology gives off a combination of mysteriousness and quirkiness at the same time. The raised eyebrows signal, ‘Oh, wow, you caught me off guard! Ha! Oh, a photo of me?’ which deep down is a way for the subject area to justify the fact that they’re taking a selfie. The smirk is like, ‘I’chiliad likewise absurd for school but I’ll nonetheless take this selfie because hey, I’m a fun guy.’
“Sidebar: For some reason, I think it’s fairly accustomed that women have selfies — just if you lot grab a guy trying to get a fit moving picture off in a public bathroom, it usually makes anybody feel awkward. I believe we should work together to reverse this trend and support the dude that’s merely trying to flex a flake to feel good about himself.”
—Max Levitzke, 27, works in solar energy
“I don’t commonly take these types of selfies very often, but I feel like what it’due south communicating is, ‘I wanna send you lot a pic of me smiling, but I don’t want to fully smile considering that’south too cheesy, so hither’south a film of me with somewhat of a half-smirk so y’all know that I’m excited about what you’re talking well-nigh but don’t desire to come across equally overly excited.’ I know that probably doesn’t make any blazon of sense, only the male encephalon tin be strange. I feel like I’ve sent these type of selfies ordinarily through Snapchat so they can disappear. Also maybe men but aren’t skilful at taking selfies? I know personally I’m quite trash at it.”
—Joe Ali, 25, shooter/editor
It’south because grin equals weakness
“Some combination of shyness and plain quondam male lizard brain control me not to smile. It’s something I’ve increasingly tried to override — smiling is good and makes everyone feel good! — merely my instincts don’t want me to. I guess smiling feels like it’s too much? Or maybe I’d just feel exposed. I’ve got pretty jacked-upwards teeth.”
—Seth Rosenthal, 29, video producer
“Ugh, I have fabricated the selfie face you are referring to but I’m not certain I e’er realized I was doing it until at present. Add it to the pile of things to be insecure about. I think it happens a lot more when you have to take information technology for a dating app. I think the raising of the eyebrows is meant to, like, soften your face up? Similar, eyebrows upward means ‘hey! :)’ and eyebrows down or neutral means ‘hey.’ As far equally the tight-lipped matter, that’s only dudes not wanting to smile because it makes you vulnerable or whatever.”
—Ryan Simmons, 30, video producer
It straddles the fence of masculine acceptability
“I feel like this may exist inherently a wait with a hint of shame among u.s.a. men, because in the traditional sense, dudes aren’t fifty-fifty really supposed to be taking selfies, are we? When the selfie really started taking off in the Myspace 2009-ish days, duckface was all the rage thank you to the mirror picture show and there was no fashion in hell 16-yr-old me was going to be caught dead doing duckface (because that was for girls, of course).
“Fast-forwards a decade or so and maybe I’m however a fiddling held back past the imitation adulthood prepubescent me subscribed to in regards to the selfie. Besides that, I think the confront is also pretty neutral. I’m not gonna frown in a selfie because that would await dumb. But then again, if I wink some toothy grin in a solo selfie, that looks kinda dumb likewise. I hateful, how happy am I really supposed to be almost taking a selfie? The tightening of the face muscles you have to do to make the face in question here also comes with, like, a 5 percent smirk, almost a hint of a hint of a smirk. I’m too absurd for schoolhouse (and by school, I hateful emoting in a tangible mode).”
—Richard Johnson, 25, sports writer
“Something to do with the perceived masculinity of selfies. Grin naturally would imply that I enjoy this teenage girl ritual manner too much. The eyebrow heighten and nonchalant smirk gives the appearance that I don’t care about my appearance and that I didn’t retake this five or ten times — even though they did.”
—Zach French, 32, business development manager
“I remember (generally) guys are less comfy taking photos than girls. Merely I think
has a game plan when it comes to photos. Instead of having to wing it, you lot only have your go-to because you lot mostly know the effect, the same fashion girls exercise the cantankerous leg/arm aptitude on the waist/lean-in formula. (I tend to do this open mouth grin thing like I’m doing a big express mirth.)
“Guys likewise potentially feel a certain vulnerability, or perceived vulnerability, when it comes to photos. Like, information technology’south uncool to bask being photographed. So the more y’all downplay it, the more comfortable you feel (similar how guys follow
they text with ‘haha’ or ‘lol’ in text, fifty-fifty when they’re not even attempting to be funny).
—Mark Topel, 30, senior copywriter
Information technology masks the pain of being alive
“I would say it’s the equivalent of unnecessarily crumpling and eating a periodical entry just because someone walked in the room. You need to hurry upward and go all that deep sadness out of your face earlier the photographic camera goes off. Is this what happiness looks like?”
—Mike Imhoff, 30, senior director
As I expected, men have a lot of very dissimilar reasons for performing this item facial expression. All of them, however, support the idea that being a person with a face who sometimes has to mail service photos of that confront on the internet tin can exist a very fraught action — even for men. Who knew!