One of the grands sent a self-portrait she created for art class. The top half of the portrait shows her hair parted in the middle with one of her signature hairbows perched on the side of her head. Her big brown eyes peer through her glasses.
The bottom half of the self-portrait is a bright blue facemask with colorful flowers, cheerful like she is. It is a clever art project; the facemask is an overlay. The mask is removable, but we received her picture with the mask on. Such a sensible child, protecting her grandparents.
Her eyes look a touch bewildered. Who hasn’t looked a touch bewildered in recent months? Fortunately, I think I know what the problem is. The child needs to work on her smize.
Fashion model Tyra Banks coined the term “smize” several years ago. A smize is a combination of smile and eyes; meaning to smile with your eyes. Models can make their eyes smile without moving their mouths. Of course, models can also pound concrete in stilettos.
Smizing is big right now. It’s hard to convey friendliness when the smiling half of your face is covered. Restaurants are coaching wait staffs to perfect the smize behind facemasks, and retailers are coaching sales staffs.
Two exercises can help improve your smize. First, practice crinkling your eyes.
Go ahead, try it. Hold your mouth still and squint so your eyes crinkle.
No. That looks like you need you find your reading glasses.
Try it again.
No, not that either. That looks like you just took off your sunglasses and are waiting for your eyes to adjust.
Better, but it looks like you don’t understand what is being said.
I had on a facemask and tried my smize on the husband. He asked why I was glaring at him.
The problem is intersectionality — of wrinkles and crinkles. It is hard to crinkle when you already have wrinkles.
There are fundamental differences between crinkles and wrinkles. A crinkle is self-made; a wrinkle is time-made. A crinkle is temporary; a wrinkle is permanent. Well, unless you intervene with needles and chemicals.
The second part of a smize is to use cheek fat to help push your eyes up from the bottom to create a smiling effect.
I have cheek fat, but for several years now it has been bent on a slow downward movement, not upward. My cheek fat attempts to respond to my facial commands and only serves to intensify the glare.
Like most people, I can mask and smile at the same time, but my eyes can’t smile without my mouth. They have an unbreakable bond.
Too bad we often can’t see one another smiling these days because smiling is like yawning: highly contagious. Contagions of smiling, kindly acknowledging one another as fellow human beings, wouldn’t be the worst thing to sweep the nation. Go ahead, smize or smile, whatever you can muster. Spread it around.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at email@example.com.