Smiles are the best, aren't they? When you get a really good, genuine smile from someone, it can totally change your day for the better. And I suppose it's no surprise that what your smile reveals about you might have a lot to do with how you're feeling at any given time, and other people's smiles similarly indicate how they might be feeling, too. Like, when you think about it, the way your waiter smiles at you might be a surefire way to interpret how stressed they might be, and you can definitely tell when your mom is smiling through gritted teeth about you not coming home for the holidays. (Sorry, ma.) But is there anything concrete to back up the "meaning" behind a smile? Or is it all up for interpretation?
Well, first of all, what is generally recognized as a person's genuine smile, is something called your "Duchenne smile," according to Psychology Today. Here, "genuine" means a smile that really does indicate a real, live connection with being happy, pleased, or feeling warm.
Your Duchenne smile is named after a French guy who studied facial expressions and their physiology in the 19th century, Psychology Today reports.
He found that a genuine smile involves involuntary and voluntary contractions from two different muscles in your face. These are the orbicularis oculi (cheeks and eyes) and the zygomatic major (corners of your mouth).
According to the above National Geographic video, you can tell if someone is smiling for real by noticing whether they get crinkles around their eyes. That's right, y'all: Crow's feet means you're just living a genuinely happy life, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise about those lines.
Moreover, research has shown that smiles and general facial expressions can reveal a ton of interesting things about you, potentially even future life successes, according to a 2001 study published in the journal Personality Processes and Individual Differences. But what else, exactly, can you learn about a person based on the way they smile?
Ashleigh Edelstein, LMFTA, a Texas-based therapist who works with teens, couples, and young adults, tells Elite Daily that, as part of her profession, she's trained to pick up on certain visual cues, and that definitely includes smiles.
"Some people wear their heart on their sleeve, while others are naturally more introverted or less outwardly revealing," she explains. "Some are better at hiding their true feelings behind a smile, but we're usually astute enough to sense the incongruity."
A natural smile extends well beyond just your mouth to include other facial muscles, Edelstein tells Elite Daily. The eyes, she says, are a dead giveaway.
This is partially why you can almost always tell when someone is faking a smile, Edelstein explains.
"We all recognize that fake smile: pursed lips and clenched teeth, no 'smile' in the eyes," she says, adding that this type of facial expression may also give the impression of a phony or uptight temperament.
A natural, open-mouth smile conveys warmth and likability, often showing a lighter, more relaxed temperament, Edelstein says, and a closed smile can convey politeness and professionalism at work, but could give off a negative, closed-off vibe in social situations. A wide, open-mouth smile can convey a go-getter, confident attitude, she tells Elite Daily.
She also says a mischievous half-smile can reveal a playful temperament. Wink, wink.
But hey, don't let all these revelations consume you too much. You don't need to overthink the way you're smiling, or how it looks to other people. This information is definitely not intended to make you change your smile by any means, because whatever it looks like naturally is uniquely you, and undoubtedly, totally gorgeous.
If there's anything to walk away with after you're done reading this article, it's this piece of advice from Danielle Radin, author of the book Become a Networking Ninja: Don't ever hold back those positive smile vibes, no matter where you are, or who you're talking to.
Letting your genuine smile shine is always going to send people a good message, Radin tells Elite Daily, especially when you're in a professional setting. Giving a big smile also exudes the level of confidence that you want to have when you're in a work environment, she says.
"A lot of people think they shouldn't smile too much during job interviews, for example, but this couldn't be further from the truth," Radin tells Elite Daily. "Smiling shows the interviewer that you are friendly and will work well with others."
So show them chompers, girl! After all, as the song goes, you're never fully dressed without a smile.