Can you read a face?

by phil on Sunday Mar 30, 2003 10:35 AM
facial expressiveness

Can you read a face? "Oh come on Phil, don't be superficial, don't judge a book by its cover." Yeah, yeah, but we DO read faces all the time. An Aryan femme fatale is walking idyllically around and a grumpy/disheveled looking old man, let's say, like some punk Chomsky comes around. He says, "Miss, could you point me to the nearest Museum of Post-Modern Art." Ms. Fatale, upon a split-second processing of Mr. Fomsky, scurries off, kind of pissed. Then, later that same night, a chiseled Kennedy-faced frat boy offers Ms. Marilyn a "special" drink. She accepts, and is worse off with the Kennedy.

Wait? That shows that she read the face, but read poorly, so didn't really read at all. But, I digress (always wanted to say that). No really, I think you can read a face. I look around, and I see certain faces and besides the initial pre-judgment that I'm programmed to eject, I start to think. I think, "Looking at this face, there's just certain things that this man just cannot express." Things such as a giggle + bawl. Or what about a sly smirk + resigned brooding. Or what about coyness + arrogance. Just some faces can NEVER express certain things. Some people have never said certain things or experienced certain feelings. The older they get, the more their face molds itself to suit whatever it has consistently communicated. After a while, it appears to cement so that the face limits the range of its expression to precisely what its owner habitually expresses.

In High School, it was more difficult to make such quick conclusions. Our faces were still fresh clay, waiting to specialize into the annoying pigeon holes of expression that we were waddling into. Hence, maybe that's why it's easier to mistake certain people for certain characters when they're younger, while as older people you can easily bubble-sort.

Creative Commons License