The other day in the paper I saw a photograph of a politician, an older man. It wasn’t a posed picture; it looked like he didn’t know he was being captured on film. The snapshot was anything but flattering. Every facial feature pointed downward. His eyes were cast downward. But more than that, his wrinkles and creases seemed to be weighed down, sagging, and his chin, in a giant flattened pout, had rutted into a circle of wrinkled flesh.
The picture was so bad that I felt sorry for him. Not being particularly photogenic myself, I could empathize. Though politicians aren’t held to the same impossible beauty standards as Hollywood, politicians’ faces and public demeanor are scrutinized. It must be difficult. And this guy is older than me so it has to be even harder for him to adjust to these times when image is so important.
It’s even worse for women; even when we weren’t all on the Internet, female politicians had to deal with this scrutiny of their physical appearance, and it’s exponentially intensified in this day and age. Just think of how Hilary Clinton’s looks have been described. Cankles really aren’t a problem for men.
Years ago I had an insight into my own image when Oprah Winfrey discussed “resting face” on her TV show. It made me go to the mirror and check out how I looked when my face was relaxed. It was scary.
I looked like a bitch. I wouldn’t want to approach me. I was a grumpy old lady, not the hip chick we all know I am. What once may have been haughty was crabby now.
Google the phrase “resting bitch face” and you’ll find lots of writing on the subject.
Since that Oprah show I have made a conscious effort to change my resting face, to have my usual facial expression be one with upturned lips, not so much raised in a grin, as a gentle smile, with lips closed. It hasn’t been easy to change something automatic, but I try. Sometimes I overdo it, which leads people to ask, “What’s so funny?” But to me this is preferable to people asking, “What’s the matter?”
Upward readjustment of your expression can lift your face better than make-up and certainly more easily than surgery.
But make no mistake, I am not telling you to smile. I know people get offended when they are told how to look. Women have been told to smile in demeaning and unhelpful ways for ages. I’m just writing so you’re aware. You choose how you want to come off.
Peace, love, and solace