Animated Face Anyone?


Facial expressions are a tool for better communication.

In the Scientific American Magazine you can always be sure to come across a few interesting articles and such was the case with “Facial Expressions,” an article published just this month by Kate Wong. The article discusses the well optimized arrangement of muscles on our face in order to enable us to better find food. However, this arrangement on the face has another role, that of communication. Humans have very expressive faces, which convey a whole array of emotions, and researchers have said that our ability to make facial expressions has to do with the unique facial muscles in that area. 



Primates also have the ability to utilize facial expressions in order to communicate with one another, but there are differences between human and primate facial expressions. We have the distinctive whites around our irises, our lips are darker than our skin to better enable us to evoke the reaction that we’re looking for in our counterparts. The question that scientists have asked is how far back did humans develop the ability to express from the face, and the clues have been found in Endocasts—the impressions the brain leaves behind on the interior of the skull. Other results have shown that Australopithecus Africanus had an anterior temporal region larger than that of an ape, so one can assume that they were better able to process information about faces. The process began a very long time ago. There’s been plenty more research on this very subject, one of which compared the facial expression of determination between children and chimps for instance. When children are frustrated, they tend to have an exaggerated expressions on their face, conveying to us their frustration, a sort of plea for help that has evolved through use of facial expression. However, studies have shown that chimps do not possess that same expression when they’re frustrated.

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A look of contentment on my son’s face.

What I find most interesting of all is how impressed researchers have been with their findings regarding our unique expressiveness—a tool that nature has given us in order to better enable us to communicate—yet these days, there’s an entire industry out there composed of those who would like to rid us of our ability to express from the face, because that ability is now considered obsolete, something that we could do without. I for one have battled with my ability to see beauty beyond the wrinkles, I would say that it has been a direct result of the beauty industry’s monopoly on how the modern woman should look like. They have definitely reinvented the look by promoting images of flawless, wrinkle-less skin. Frown lines and crows feet are a thing of the past, and definitely an image that would get Photoshopped immediately. Wrinkles have become the enemy and the epitome of everything ugly, is seems.

There are days that I still wake up in the morning and wonder whether my decision has been pure conjecture on my ability to stick to what I preach. Have I made a mistake? Perhaps I should have continued with Botox and ridden myself of my wrinkles, to enable me to hold on to my youthful appearance for a little longer, just like everyone else? But then I remember my blog and my book, and even though the option is still there to freeze time, I also feel empowered and soothed by the decision that I have made to be happy just the way I am, and not too obsessed over rubbish of this sort.

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