THE POWER OF FACIAL EXPRESSION
There are 44 muscles in the face. These muscles are not attached to the bones of the face but rather the skin. This means that they can float freely to create facial expression. The human face is capable of making many different expressions to convey emotion, although I have seen figures ranging from 21 different facial expressions to 7,000.
Whatever the figure, the musculature of the face not only performs many physical functions such as opening the mouth, helping us chew and close our eyes for example, but is a mobile structure that allows us to enhance other expressions of emotion we might use such as voice pitch or other body language.
Sometimes through frequent use, we can notice that a person may have certain set expressions, especially when the face is at rest. A common one is the creases between the eyebrows that pulls the eyebrows in slightly which might be an expression of confusion, apprehension or uncertainty. The muscles have become habituated to the expression and have stored the tension which they no longer release.
In many cultures, facial expression is considered an important part of social interaction. When we meet another person, we “read” their facial expression and make some decision about what they are feeling, whether we are acceptable to them and so on. However, we don’t always read another person’s facial expression correctly. We may also “read” in their expression what we expect to see, in other words we may project on to them and see emotions the other person is not expressing at all. This is common where people feel insecure about themselves for example. They might perhaps read “rejection” of them on the other person’s face.
Use of facial expression is also cultural. In some, it is not necessarily considered appropriate to show your feelings on your face and so we need to be aware that this when interacting with those from other cultures.
Difficulty in the reading of others’ facial expression and indeed using facial expression is commonly associated with conditions on the autism spectrum. In a documentary called “The Human Face” which you can view on youtube, John Cleese interviews a young man with Aspergers’ Syndrome who has taught himself to read facial expressions knowing that this does not come naturally to him.
Facial mobility so that we can use our faces as part of our communication with others, is a beautiful thing. The more clear our faces are of tension, the more expressive our faces will be. Face muscles are connected to the skin. This means that when the muscles lack tone, they are unable to properly support the skin giving our faces a droopy look. When toxins are held in the skin and muscles, they will reduce the radiance of our expression. If there is excess fluid in the tissues of the face too, this will hide the full appearance of the facial musculature that gives your face its individuality and uniqueness.
There’s a lot to be said for looking after our face by detoxing it, toning it and reducing held tensions. When we come face to face with another person, not only will we look and feel attractive, but we will show more of our true face and have the freedom and mobility of the musculature to express ourselves.