Scientists Have Found We Have 21 Facial Expressions - So Why Is Smiling The Only Valid One For Women?

14/08/2014 16:42 | Updated 20 May 2015

This week scientists discovered 15 more facial expressions human beings use to convey emotion than they previously believed existed. So now we can add "disgustedly surprised" to the usual list of happy, sad, angry and so on. Great news I reckon.

But the truth is - while I'm a massive fan of my own "get the ef out of my personal space" snarl on the daily commute to work - most people I know would be happier if I just smiled a bit more.

Scientists Map Facial Expressions For 21 Different Emotions But Us Girls Are Still Confined To A Smile

We've all heard of (and are frankly sick of hearing about) "bitchy resting face" and I'll be the first to admit my go-to facial expression is of the not-so attractive, droopy-eyed, lips pursed variety. I've mastered the delicate balance between looking both bored out of my mind and somewhat pained. And as a young person living in times of austerity I rate that as an achievement.

I've seen plenty of men who wear a similar look on their face... But when was the last time a builder told them to "cheer up love"? Or a server at Itsu wrote "smile" on their napkin when they were just trying to buy sushi in peace (true story)? Or their mum reminded them they're "much prettier" when they smile? Yeah, I thought as much.

Just last week when I was walking alone on a fairly busy street, a bloke about my age was riding towards me on his bike. I didn't take much notice of him but as he cycled past he stood up on the pedals, leaned over the handle bars and yelled: "You need to cheer up! Smiiiile!"

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I really didn't feel like smiling after that... And d'you know what? That guy f*cking ruined my day. I felt harassed and it was a reminder women face this sort of catcalling on the street every single day - reinforcing the idea women are always expected to look like everything's hunky dory. Grin like an idiot, girl.

I don't owe anyone a smile. Especially some random dude on the street unconsciously embodying The Joker who feels the need to dictate what he thinks my face should look like. "Why so serious?" he might as well have said while threatening to cut a grin across my cheeks (okay, so it wasn't that bad).

21 facial expressions

"Smile, it might never happen," is another one I hear a lot... What if it already has happen? What if I'm Miley Cyrus, on stage, squealing through one of my upbeat pop hits, and I don't feel like smiling? I feel like crying because my dog died, what then?

On the other hand, perhaps they're right and "it" hasn't happened yet. I've just got face on because I'm tired, I've had a long day, or maybe this is just what my eyes, nose, lips look like. I should probably think about the implications my face has on the people around me, grin like a Cheshire cat and stop being so goddamn selfish.

It's not just strange men who're the problem... The worst culprits can be found in your very own backyard - yep, it's your friends and family.

I know I'm not the first girl to have their mother tell them they look more attractive when they smile, or be asked by a friend (and fellow female, might I add): "What's up? Are you angry at me?" No I'm not freakin' angry at you, I'm just not overwhelmingly joyful right now, so I'm not beaming at you like someone who probably need their head checked. Although, actually I am pretty angry at you now, so well done.

I guess the only solution is... to go about day-to-day life with a wild grin on your face. That's how to get people off your back, I suppose, but it's not me. Be reassured everyone - inside I'm dancing. Well, sometimes.

MORE! Find out more about the study in the video below...


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