Feb 272012
Authors: Colleen McSweeney

I was always told it takes twice as many muscles to frown as it does to smile.

Everyone has probably heard the aphorism in one form or another –– the smile-to-frown muscle ratio maybe differing slightly. If it’s less physically trying to smile, then we should of course make it our default facial expression, right? But hey, what about those wanting to lose a few pounds? Is that why the thinnest models always look the angriest –– to burn more calories?

Well, no, probably not. Stick-thin runway models have that “frowny” face because they only ate a single Goldfish cracker for dinner last night, and it’s impossible to be happy when you’re that hungry. (That’s why professional bacon-testers are probably the happiest people on earth.)

But regardless of whether it’s physically easier or not, lately, I’ve noticed something: an abundance of people taking themselves, and their facial expressions, too seriously.

This past Sunday night during the Academy Award’s Red Carpet interviews, “Borat”’s Sacha Baren Cohen –– in character as dictator General Aladeen –– spilled an entire urn of the late Kim Jon Il’s “ashes” on interviewer Ryan Seacrest. I thought it was one of the best moments of the night, but Seacrest looked like he was about to cry.

Seacrest, who is as metro-sexual as they come, was obviously shaken by Cohen’s stunt. He tried to maintain his cool for the cameras, but I’m sure as soon as they stopped rolling, he ran off-stage and demanded that his $5,000 Armani suit be burned and Cohen’s P.R. team be sued. But I say, don’t be such a diva, Ry-Ry.

Celebrities like Seacrest are infamous for taking themselves too seriously, and Cohen has taken full advantage of this by making his livelihood mocking their inflated egos.

But it’s not just celebrities. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people, especially in college, who seemed to be offended at the slightest jab to their ego. I think it may have to with the personal transition phase we’re in. Because really, if you don’t know yourself, how can you make fun of yourself?

Comedian Erin Jackson recently wrote a piece for the New York Times called “Stupidity is Funny, But It’s No Joke.” In it, she partially blames our tech-reliance for our diminishing ability to joke, saying, “Our dependence upon technology has played a huge part in our ‘endumbening’…But beyond that, I believe it’s also resulted in a collective inability to discern nuance, interpret social cues, take a joke. Somewhere in between all the LOL’s and J/K’s, we’ve lost our sense of humor.”

And I agree. The way I see it, the more we “LOL” without actually laughing our loud and “haha” without actually…ha ha-ing, we somewhat taint what we truly find funny.

We need to stop being self-righteous Ryan Seacrest types and realize that laughing –– especially at ourselves –– is the best way to be make it through life happy.

I mean, after years of falling off curbs, accidentally calling my female teachers “Mom” (until middle school, at least), running into low-hanging tree branches and falling asleep atop strangers on airplanes, I’ve learned to laugh at myself as a mode of survival.

And as it turns out, after extensive Google searching and finding the reputable source of information, straightdope.com, I’ve discovered that only one type of smiling actually requires less muscles than frowning –– artificial “beauty queen smiles.”

The real smiles, the ones that wrinkle your eyes and leave your face sore after hours of laughing, use up more muscles than any other facial expression.

But I think most of us can agree –– when the happiness is genuine, what else matters?

Editorial Editor Colleen McSweeney is a junior journalism major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:35 pm

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