The Human Duck Face
D. Barsotti & J.A. James
Social media is not the cause of duck face but it certainly has encouraged it and it is one of the reasons I cannot bear to scroll through Facebook and Instagram anymore. The moment the human race was able to take selfies, it was evident the acceptable facial expression, the new image of beauty, was the duck face — head tilted ever so slightly, lips pursed together causing cheeks to suck in, eyes vapidly staring into the lens of the phone’s camera.
And almost everyone did it and for some reason, no one thought it was unnatural or stupid looking. Now, if you are twelve through sixteen….even through eighteen, sure — you’re young, you’re goofy and posting silly, social media faces is really your domain but after thirty, and definitely beyond forty and fifty, it’s just asinine.
“the unfortunate thing is, in their heart of hearts, people know this but they continue to post and expose themselves to the judgement”
But, “friends” click like and heart and comment with all kinds of uplifting and cutesy decorative emojis, saying how someone is “just beautiful” or “simply gorgeous” and then, in minutes, tell or text others what they really think of a person’s duck face and or body. Their true thoughts are usually unkind and often horrific. The unfortunate thing is, in their heart of hearts, people know this but they continue to post and expose themselves to the judgement because society’s approval has become as vital as air, water and nourishment.
Social media encourages those who could afford it, to take duck face to the next level. The level of permanent duck face which evolves into a disaster of unnaturally tight skin around the eyes and mouth, skeletal noses, perma-surprised eyebrows and swollen lips that make what was once a duck’s bill, a fish mouth. Man, if animals could capitalize on human beings’ need to look like them, they would financially dominate the world.
“We are not meant to stay in the incompleteness of being young“
There are some people I know (and some I used to know) who barely resemble their original selves. Skin pulled tautly over bone, I’m never sure if they are smiling, scared or eternally surprised. Social media fuels this need to be impressive, be the most beautiful and the most popular and it has prevented many of us from seeing just how lovely we are, inside and out. Many humans do not recognize how valuable they are. Many of us are more concerned with our outward appearance and have forgotten about the essence of who we are and how much more we can become as we get older. I truly believe one must take care of oneself. Eating good food, exercising, moisturizing and caring for our skin with good clean natural products; caring for our hair, our teeth and nails is vital to being healthy…but caring for our minds and self-esteem is just as important. Being able to cry, be angry and to laugh without feeling like our face will snap is a wonderful and natural thing. We are intended to age, to grow more experienced and wiser. We are not meant to stay in the incompleteness of being young. It’s not natural and let’s call a spade a spade…it’s freaking weird to see an old person with a face that looks like it is ironed onto their skull. Some humans are beginning to look like walking corpses — face all pulled back, filled in and oddly “perfect” while the body is aged. What is the appeal of looking like twenty when your forty old mind has so much more it can offer if it were less occupied with trying to perpetually look young. Many in the fashion industry are embracing all body types, natural attributes and individual quirkiness to reflect reality. The effort is there but it is such an uphill battle to show people that imperfection is actually …perfection! Skin is not supposed to be flawless. Whatever happened to the saying, “every flaw is a fashion?”
Ironically, it was my vain mother who taught me that I was enough and encouraged me to love myself and own all of me — every bump, every chip, every blemish. I know my mother, even at eighty-two has many things about her face and her body that she has never liked but her words of encouragement juxtaposed with the many times I have watched her be self-dissatisfied, enabled me to accept myself. I love and accept my crooked row of bottom teeth, the big cleft on my chin and the, blue-black birthmark on the left side of my face, close to my ear that is the size of my fingerprint. I lived with constant commentary about it looking like a stain, a sideburn, dripping hair dye, or a black olive on my face but I never hated it and never intentionally tried to cover it up — ever — because it was unique to me. I love the freckles under my eyes and across my nose. I love my thick, dark eyebrows people would relentlessly tease me about. I cherish my bouncy and often unruly, greying curls. I adore my skin tone, dark eyes, small boobs and very present ass that was a favourite topic of conversation among some of my aunts. I love my strong thighs and calves that show my athleticism even at fifty-four and I embrace my stretch marked belly that housed my much wanted and adored two, ten-pound-baby-boys I delivered into this world. I have scars from three kidney surgeries that saved my life and a five inch scar on my right elbow that is the conclusion of a snowboarding run gone horribly wrong. Perhaps I am not as attractive as I was in my teens or twenties but I feel and believe that I am exquisitely, interestingly, splendidly, confidently, intelligently, gracefully, sublimely and elegantly fifty four. I mean, I continue to get my husband’s attention from across a crowded room and in our bed. To me, all I am externally is imperfectly beautiful and I am on a perpetual journey to improve my internal flaws. As I grew older, I have made it a point to separate and discard what I deem frivolous, inconsequential and unneeded in my life. It has been my mission to be nicer, kinder, more patient, more tolerant and more accepting of others and it is imperative I remain informed and continue to learn and improve my mind.
The physical signs of aging, much like scars, are the badges of honour we earn living life. It does not matter what people think of us and it matters less when their true thoughts are masked by fake comments about us online. In order for young people to develop self-esteem, self-worth, and an acceptance and joyful anticipation of ageing, older people have to lead the way. Ageing isn’t a bad thing. When you get older and your children leave home, you get back the gift of time. Time to rediscover yourself, try new things, see new places, meet new people, grow things, cook new thigs, play new sports and learn a couple new languages. There is time to read more, create more, make more of a difference to our endangered planet and pass on what we know to those who will inherit and inhabit her when we are gone.
“You are enough”
And while I understand that for some, when artificial, cosmetic enhancement is started, it cannot or is difficult to stop, I urge those of you who have not succumbed to this ritual to try something simple — Look at your face, your hair and your naked body and smile. Really look at this amazing vessel that houses the essence of who you are. You are enough and if you want to strive for more, if what you see looks unhealthy, or not as fit as it could be, heal it and take care of the vessel in a healthy and safe manner. Cherish your body. Feed your soul. Enhance your mind. True friends, and I mean real people, don’t care about what your vessel looks like but rather care what you think, what you have to say and what you do. There is nothing wrong with looking lovely, stylish or wearing something that makes you feel good but you don’t have to go to painful extremes and you don’t need blue thumbs up, smiley faces or hearts. Unpurse your lips, turn off the filter and smile, really smile from within and show the world just how beautiful you are … because you are and truth be told, you always have been.