The Map Of Emotions: My Personal Encounter With My Own Face

Thoughts About Face - Emotional Map

They say don’t judge a book by its cover. But I don’t know, you know? I don’t think it makes sense.

Are we becoming so overly PC that we are willing to ignore the fact that the way a person looks directly indicates their emotional spectrum, not to mention their eating, drinking, smoking habits? Are we trying to pretend that we don’t notice any of these only because we want others to pretend they don’t notice these signs in us?

I’ve always said (and truly believed, mind you) that I’m very much alright with getting older. I don’t mind getting wrinkles and stuff, I don’t mind getting that baby fat off of my face and have my cheeks get slightly hollowed. Heck, I even prefer older faces, I’ve always found them more substantial, more attractive, more human.

I’ve always found stories more interesting than pretty pictures.

But little did I know that getting older means having your story be written all over your face. And it sure seems that the story my face is telling the world is the story of sorrow.

Your Getting Old Has Nothing to Do with Time

My many bouts of depression have engraved their marks on my face. But the responsibility for it probably doesn’t lie on depression’s shoulders alone. It’s my whole melancholic and introverted nature. I mean, I’ve always been lots of various things and emotions but those darker ones seem to have been more persistent and stronger, as if they’re a foundational layer for all the rest. Early in my life I even went as far as to glamorize the concept of gloom, death, and everything morbid. But it’s somewhat easy to do before life actually sprinkles that nasty glitter on you.

It’s odd but I still like it. My sad sad face, that is.

I often take inspiration from French women who are proud of everything they have: their slender physique, their minimalistic style, the dark circles under their eyes, their long hair at any age with grey strands here and there. It’s gothic, it’s the ultimate gothic beauty to have those dark imperfections and actually own them, be proud of them.

As an alternative teenager, I’ve experimented with dark and gloomy make-up a lot. I’ve tried to show the world the stories that I didn’t yet have. But when I grew up I got somewhat frightened by the way my face has started to actually become my grunge make-up. I used to want to look tough, dark, older, wiser, scarier, stronger only until my face has started to naturally embody that. Now that’s a quirky paradox.

What Do You See in Me?

I wish I knew how I look to other people. Sometimes I don’t understand how can they have such impressively strong positive reactions towards my face. And I believe it’s not just my beauty but the unconventionality of it. Many people have told me time and time again that I am beautiful, but this compliment is usually followed by the explanation that my face is different, unique, nontraditional, exotic, interesting, and so on. When they speak about my face’s unique features, do they appreciate the way my dark emotions have shaped it?

It’s strange, but the few wrinkles that I have and that make me look sad are actually created by my smiling. It’s those two lines running in between my cheeks and lips, from the sides of the nose to chin. Medics call them nasolabial folds. It’s clearly genetic, predisposed, but they’re there. And so, my smiling has probably deepened what I had naturally and now they make my non-smiling face look extra sad. And the only way to hide them (really well and easily, to be honest) is… with a smile!

When I do smile, I look unbelievably radiant! I look so different and, well, I guess I can say better. But what does that imply? That I have to smile all the time to look pretty? Or, rather, that I have to smile all the time to look good to myself, to look the way I want to, the way I imagine myself? But what about sadness and my authentic life story mapped out on my face?

Grooming the Gloom

What does your face look like when you completely let all its muscles go and fall where they please? Do we use the muscles to hide our real face or do we use the muscles to form our real face?

But why are we so pretty when we sleep then? Is it only because we’re harmless?

When I walk around the town I notice how self-conscious I feel about my face. I often walk with my headphones on. And really often I hear something that provokes my smiling. And I do and it’s awesome. People seem to like and respond to it. It’s so much easier to catch an unintentional but true split-second connection with a passer-by than to do it consciously. However, when I don’t smile and simply think about stuff with my normal face, my neutral face, my resting face, I get a sense that I look very sad to others. And I’ve actually been told many times that I look sad even though I didn’t feel like I was, not at all. Now my natural face just looks sad. And then, walking down the street and pondering stuff, I start doing things with my muscles to try and maintain an adequate / normal / neutral facial expression. But I’m not sure how it goes, I have no freakin’ idea how it goes.

Every little thing in life requires work, even your face. And I’m not talking about morning and evening routines and make-up and facials and whatnot else. It’s the way you maintain the muscles every goddamn second of your public being that bothers me. You don’t just groom and go out into the world. You go out and groom yourself all the time simultaneously along with all the other things you do.

Each time you look at yourself in the mirror it’s not really you who sees the reflection and not really you who is seen in the reflection. Your face is an open book of your emotional life story that is reserved only for others to read.

So how about that, hey?..


Featured Image: Audra Bajori , photographer – Liana Sape. Iceland.

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