Gratuitous grimaces

Why do we smile for photos? Picture your latest family reunion or gathering. Your estranged aunt whom you haven’t spoken to in years has just assembled you and a handful of your cousins, and is demanding you all “smile for the camera!” so she can capture the memory of you all together. You are trying your best to smile, as that is what social norms suggest is customary in family photos, yet the expression on your face is the farthest thing from a smile as you could possibly get. A sneering goat more accurately describes you. The same goes for the rest of your cousins, and together you all look like the bleakest kind of happy.

In old family photographs from the 19th century, rarely do you see anyone smiling, yet we prize these as the beautiful and classy images of our past. Similarly, high fashion models in magazines are still considered dazzling when sporting disinterested pouts. So, why do our great-great-grandmother and Kate Moss get to remain emotionless in portraits, but we are forced to produce the most embarrassing of images? I move to make comfortable and natural expressions in photos a thing again in 2018. Who seconds my motion?
Image: Amara Gelaude