Petty Hates : Duckface

The really, really, ridiculously good looking Derek Zoolander perfected four signature expressions for this pictures, Blue Steel, Magnum, Le Tigre and Ferrari.  All of them were exactly the same, and the most famous was perfected inadvertently while he was brushing his hair or something in the mirror.

Apparently this is something that we all subconsciously do, develop a signature look while checking ourselves in a mirror.  It can be something small but we do it because we think it makes us look better.

What isn’t subconscious, though, is that funny look that is now becoming all too common, and I’m not not sure what to call it.  I believe from my extensive research on the subject that there have been four main selfie poses, each one an evolution of the first, 2009’s “The Smize”.

To achieve The Smize, where one smiles only with their eyes, one would squint, raise their eyebrows and leave their mouth neutral.  I’ve tried, I can’t do that without getting a funny twitch in my cheek.  Instagram helped launch “Duck Face” (the classic pouted lips pose) in 2012 before it’s avian brethren “Sparrow Face” (Duck Face but with lips slightly open, which just screams “sparrow!” to me, obviously) took over in 2013.  Apparently Sparrow Face might actually screw the timeline as the Olsen Twins are thought to maybe have invented it in 2008 by saying “prune” rather than “cheese” before the photo was taken.

In 2015, we were treated to “Fish Gape”.  This is Sparrow Face but with teeth showing.  This is Fish Gape done right (I believe):

And this is Fish Gape done wrong:

(Any excuse to post a picture of a catfish with human teeth, right? And is that the hairiest forearm you’ve ever seen?)

Anyway… In 2010 OK Cupid (that’s a dating site for those of you lucky enough to not have used them) supposedly published a now deleted study to find out which facial expressions elicited the most messages among its male and female users.

The found that a pouty pose (as it was before Duck Face) attracted more attention to a photo of a female than a smile (as long as she was looking at the camera).  Oddly, it doesn’t even turn women off men.

In 2015, Chinese scientists asked the subject of 123 selfies to fill in a questionnaire and analysed their personality traits.   Results showed that those who used Duck Face were more likely to be neurotic.  They then asked university students to describe what they thought to be the personality of the posers, and they suggested that the Duck Facers were less conscientious, less organised and less hardworking (despite their being no obvious scientific link to this conclusion).

So online daters think that Duck Face is sexy, uni students think it shows your lazy and scientists think it shows that you’re emotionally unstable.

Duck Face is my petty hate for none of those reasons exactly, although I possibly sit closer to the scientists’ opinion than the others.  I think the more interesting result, socially speaking, is that of the online daters.  If pouting or pretending to kiss is seen as attractive, one could then question the motives of those posting and appraising.  It might help to explain one of the reasons why online dating is so horrible.

My dislike of Duck Face, though, is how contrived it is.  This is why I don’t like it in the spectrum of circumstances it’s seen in, from celebrities to online daters to now people’s own children.  Unlike the uni students in the research, I can’t really tell anything about the person in the picture.  It’s a non-expression.  I don’t know whether they’re happy or not. It some instances the most complimentary thing I can say about it (especially when it moves to Fish Gape) is that the person looks either gormless or completely caught out, and they’re choosing that.  All I know is that they want to do something that everyone else is doing.

Why not break the mould? Why not do something that no-one else is doing? Maybe something outrageous, like smiling.

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