Friday, November 06, 2015

How to squint without scaring people

Most of my life I went around feeling afraid of many things: friendship, male attention, physical pain, family members, children, people being nice to me, etc. It made sense for me to try to look intimidating and stand-offish, so people would leave me alone. I kept a serious expression when I walked down the street or entered a public place and in bright light I squinted like this:

In the past few years, I've become less afraid of several of those things and I no longer want to look intimidating to strangers as they pass me on the street. Several months ago, I began to think about how I squint in harsh light. Most people do a frowning squint, but my father and others on his side of the family squint more like this:

I used to think that was an unusual way to hold one's face. I think of my father and my Aunt Rosemary in particular. Since childhood, I've noticed that they almost look like they're smiling when they squint into the sun. But now that I no longer feel the fear that made me want to intimidate people, this way of squinting appeals to me. I look nicer (and goofier, but that's okay). So I'm now training myself to squint in the Rodríguez way instead of the upset-looking way. When I notice that my eyes are straining against light, I carefully smooth my forehead and raise my cheeks, pulling my eyes half-closed and bringing the corners of my mouth up.

Why not? It softens my expression and keeps my frown lines from deepening. I see people with completely relaxed faces who look angry because the frown lines between their eyes never go away. My mother frowned a lot and had deep lines between her eyes. I want frown lines that only show when I'm actually frowning. I've heard that before the age of 40 you wear the face God made, and after 40 you wear the face you made. I'm 49 and I'm carefully working on a face I want to wear.

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