SMILING FROM THE HEART
City expats talk about genuine and fake smiles following World Smile Day
Although many countries celebrate the World Smile Day on the first Friday of October every year, there is another version of this festival in China which is celebrated annually on May 8. It encourages people to maintain a healthy lifestyle physically and mentally, and to build a friendly and harmonious society.
Smiles everyone, smiles!
Smiling is very important in a person’s daily life. The human face has 44 muscles which allow us to make more than 5,000 different types of expressions, most of which are smiles.
When something good happens or someone is having fun, one grins without much thought. Smiling is a natural response to share happiness with others. A genuine smile pleases not only people around them but also the person themselves. When a person smiles for happiness, his or her body pumps out more feel-good endorphins, which benefits one’s health.
But smiling can also be a simple courtesy. One has to fake a smile in some situations to please others who they actually dislike. In today’s electronic product-dominated society, even fake smiles can be precious, when most people keep looking down at their screen. The Global Times recently asked some foreigners in Shanghai about World Smile Day.
Most of our interviewees told the Global Times that they were not aware of it.
Larisa from Russia said she knows of the day, but her boyfriend Stepan had no idea what the festival is about. Both Pedro and Juliet from Mexico said they’ve never heard about it. Austin from the US, Ramon from Spain and Maya from Romania do not know either. Max from Turkey and Eva from Kyrghyzstan know the festival.
Most interviewees agree with each other that it is easy to tell a fake smile from a genuine smile by the body language, but some think it’s too hard.
“You can see the difference in the face of people and we can understand if it’s a fake smile or not. But sometimes I don’t understand. Sometimes I can’t understand which
smile in Asian people’s face is genuine,” Larisa said.
Juliet thinks we can tell if one smiles from his heart by the wrinkles on his face. “When it’s genuine you get wrinkles in your eyes.” And Pedro recognizes a genuine smile if their whole face makes a gesture. “When it’s a fake smile it’s just in the mouth,” he said. Both Juliet and Pedro said they have seen more genuine smiles than fake ones.
Austin believes a fake smile occurs when a person is being polite and wants other people to feel good, but a genuine smile appears when a person actually feels it. “I think you can see it and hear it in a person’s laugh or in their face,” he added.
“You feel a genuine smile on their skin. It’s very different. I have seen more polite smiles than genuine ones,” Ramon said.
Smiling is lucky
Maya said a real smile comes from the heart and she makes a fake smile when she wants to please other people but is not pleased herself. “I see more fake smiles. Smiling
means happiness but people just smile ungenuinely,” Maya said.
Max agrees that one can easily tell a genuine smile by their body language in their eyes and face and that he has seen more genuine smiles in China. “When I ask someone, even though he doesn’t know what I’m talking about he just gives me this kind of smile.”
Eva said she had not seen many fake smiles. “People around me always smile to me and it comes from the heart. Every person is different, so is the smile. I think Chinese people are really honest and very kind. I’m trying to be the same.”
Smiling has a magic power which can draw strangers closer and dissolve embarrassment and awkwardness. Like a popular saying goes “A smiling person will always be lucky.” Most smiles will make communications between strangers easier.
“Some people smile to me and I also smile to them,” Larisa said. “When I’m just walking by and I’m thinking, I look up and I see someone looking at me, I will smile to them,” said Juliet.
Austin said he usually smiles at someone who is doing something nice, to let them know it is nice. Maya said she smiles to strangers as much as possible. When walking on the street and making eye contacts with strangers, she will smile at them. She also likes to smile when buying things from a shop to give a bit of happiness to others.
Sometimes a smile is even more powerful than language. “I’m not good with Chinese language, so when someone tries to speak with me in Chinese and I don’t know, I give him the deep smile,” Max said.
“Of course I smile to strangers a lot. Like just now, I smile to the camera,” said Eva.