Monday, July 9, 2012

The sneer - sexy or sad?

Over the last 2 weeks, the tennis courts of Wimbledon have been alight with the fire of the quest for glory, as is the case every summer.
With its conclusion yesterday and my experiencing divided loyalties (country of nationality versus country of residence :-) I find a reason to pose to you all yet another question I didn't see coming...

Until Nadal got knocked out.

In the usual post-mortem by all the newspapers as to how this could ever happen, I came across this article in the Daliy Mail.
(I really do appreciate Boris Becker's attitude when it comes to sporting defeat, I must say. When at 19 years old, he lost in the first round at Wimbledon having won it at 17 and 18, he replied to the press at the press conference:
"Don't wory! No-one died. We didn't lose the war! It's only a tennis match!"
So true. How come one so young had so much sense?)

Anyhow, I digress.
The article above shows a picture (the fifth one) of the famous Nadal 'sneer'.
The first four pictures of course are of no interest whatsoever to me :-)

Now, apart from his bizarre 'rituals' (which actually I believe is common to all top athletes) the one thing we have all grown accustomd to is indeed the Nadal 'sneer'.

Somehow it is very much a part of who he is. Just as much as his muscles...which of course I barely ever noticed :-)

But...the 'sneer' is something I notice more and more as part of the standard 'pose' (for want of a better word) by celebrity women (mostly, but some men do this too) who want to appear 'sexy'.

Is this what we have to do to appear desirable to men?
Then I'm out :-)

Maybe it's a good thing I am not the audience of such women who 'sneer' (because it would be a failing strategy with me lol), but I wonder what their audience really think about this?

Is the 'sneer' ever attractive in a woman?
Or is it a masculine thing, which is why I am confused when I see it in a woman and laud it in Nadal?
Am I just a 'double standards hound', or is there something to this?

If it is designed to be a seductive thing, then why are women encouraged to smile more?
Would Helen Andelin approve of the 'sneer'? Is this ever a part of femininity that I just haven't quite uncovered yet? Believe me, I am trying very hard.

Now, I think I have mentioned before on this blog that in real life, I am not particularly the smiling type.
I do smile when it's necessary, but it's not my default facial expression :-)

It is partly because I am always thinking 'why' and I think that question in one's mind is incompatible with a smile.

But jokes apart, even with my non-smiling self, I do automatically smile when I need to make myself more attractive ;)
It's automatic.

And to me, that makes sense.
All the 'Girl Game' books advise this afterall.
And most women in fact do this, whether it comes 'naturally' or not.

A smile is an effective way of saying 'all is well with the world' - even when it is not.
And those with nice smiles and beautiful teeth have an unfair advantage here :-)

But somehow, the script got flipped whilst I was at the dentist :-)

Someone is telling women that a sneer and a cold stare are the ways to appear attractive to men.
Since when did this become true?

Will the men care to explain why this phenomenon is happening?
Is someone misrepresenting their wishes?

I sincerely hope so, because whilst I don't smile a lot (I am trying to do that more), I can't see myself 'sneering' either.

If men want a 'sneer' I shall be single for life :-(

There is also the 'pout'. Now, whilst I always thought that was an obligatory side effect of too much 'collagen fillers' injected in the lips, (i.e. the 'trout pout'), I see that this also features on the faces of women who swear they haven't had this procedure.
So it's another learned 'technique'.

As is the 'scowl'.

I don't get it.
I am missing a serious trick here.

But maybe I am supposed to.

Is the sexy sneer a secret code for something I wouldn't want to know about?
Am I about to enter a locker-room that is neither male nor female, but a combination of the two with a bold red sign that says 'keep out'?

Who is advising these women?
And what is the motive behind this advice?
Anyone know?

In case you wondered what I mean...
Some examples for your expert perusal...

Victoria Beckham had a smile before she got married.
Um, should it scare me that she has never smiled in public ever since?

 The trout pout...
Lauren Goodger and Jordan do it best. it worth it?

 This facial expression of Kate Bolick's is barely detectable to me as a 'sneer', but several men over at HUS thought it was there. That tells me I don't have a good enough 'radar' on this...but then again, should I? I am never going to be the target of such an expression. Unless I get on a different bus...

 I think this is the worst one of all...what is this? It's not a sneer, it's not a pout...

I guess Eva Longoria is trying to be 'sexy' here. But she still keeps her smile. Do the men think this takes anything away from her 'sexiness'?
(I think not...but as a woman, my opinion on this doesn't count, surely :-)

I notice that in all the examples above (except the last one), the 'sneer' comes later in the woman's life.
Is this what I can look forward to?
I really sincerely hope not!

How to avoid the 'sneer'?
Any useful tips would be most welcome :-)


just visiting said...

I think this is the worst one of all...what is this? It's not a sneer, it's not a pout...

It's a snarl? Feral ferociousness. This one bites,lol.

Bellita said...

I recall Victoria Beckham saying in an interview (way back when she was still Victoria Adams) that she did not like smiling because she did not like the way she looked when she smiled.

Spacetraveller said...

@ JV,

I have no idea why this is 'sexy'. To me it's kind of scary. But then again...I am not the intended target for this sort of thing.

It's interesting that in the battle between the 2 Mrs. Pitts, people are either 'pro-Jennifer' or 'pro-Angelina'.
Based on nothing else but their facial expressions, I would be pro-Jennifer, I must say... only because Angelina scares me lol.

Bell, believe it or not, I do consider Mrs. Beckham to be something of an 'unlikely hero'. How she manages her life I shall never know! But after 4 children, with a figure like hers, and still commanding the respect and love of her husband...I say hats off to her!
To be fair to her she doesn't sneer as such. She just doesn't seem friendly (but I am sure she is to her own family and friends).
I think she had a nice smile when she was a Spice Girl...but I guess no-one is going to succeed in convincing her, huh?
It's a shame.
But in her case, the absence of a smile doesn't really take anything away from her beauty. So she can afford not to smile :-)

What about the rest? Who tells them it's better to frown/pout/sneer? Did I miss the memo?

Bellita said...

I must confess that back in the 90s, Posh Spice was my favorite Spice Girl! :) I still like her very much today, even though I realize that the average woman who hopes for a husband and family probably shouldn't copy her demeanor. :P

Now that you've mentioned Victoria and David's children, ST, let me add that I never thought she would be the type to have so many! ("So many" being relative, as four children is an average sized family to me. Hahahaha!) I just never would have predicted that someone so focused on style, image and luxury brands would have so many children. She certainly goes against type, doesn't she? I can't wait to find out what the Beckhams name their fifth! ;)

As for Jennifer vs. Angelina, I'm afraid that I'm on "Team Angelina" . . . as far as that goes. Hahahaha! Again, it's the children that tip the scale for me. Jennifer doesn't have any nor seem to want them, while Angelina has given birth and adopted. Sneer or no sneer, it's Angelina who seems more feminine to me. (But in all honesty, I was never drawn to Jennifer. Even during the heyday of Friends, I preferred Courtney Cox to her.)

Spacetraveller said...


Yes Victoria Beckham really does go against type! Unusual woman in many ways, even though she appears 'usual' to some because of her penchant for high fashion, etc. I think she actually has some very good principles...

I see what you mean about Angelina Jolie. It's nice that she is so into kids, but I'm afraid I don't think I can ever be persuaded she is a good 'woman' (I don't care how many children from around the world she adopts lol) - I just don't think she has the same good principles that Victoria Beckham has, for example.
Yes Jennifer Anniston is presumed to be 'high maintenance' and not serious about wanting children even though she claims to be, but her demeanor, to me, seems less 'sinister' than Angelina Jolie somehow.
I agree to disagree with you on these two women :-)

There was a blog on femininity that I visited a few months ago, and there was something about 'dark femme' (the seductress, perhaps also the 'mother') and 'light femme' (the 'girl next door, the idealistic one). If these women were to be 'categorised' I would say Jolie probably embodies 'dark femme' and Anniston 'light femme'. I guess they are both feminine in their own different ways...

Spacetraveller said...


Look what I just came across today...

Is this what you were saying earlier?
For the record, her smile IS nice...why can't she see that?

Bellita said...

For the record, I don't think Angelina's love for children "saves" her in the sense that it excuses everything else. I guess I just like seeing large families, and Angelina gets a halo from me. :P But really, my "Team Jolie" membership has more to do with an aversion to Jennifer (whom I never "got") than to any real love for Angelina.

And I must add that even as I wrote that I found her more "feminine" than Jennifer, I wondered at my word choice. Angelina is not very feminine at all! Beautiful and sexy, yes . . . maybe even womanly . . . let's give her maternal . . . but after more careful consideration, I can't describe her as feminine.

As for Victoria's smile . . . I'm sure that mean piece would never have been written if she were more of a smiler! But she smiles so rarely that the tabloid press is bound to pick every new one apart. And I must confess that I'm so used to her serious face that her smile strikes me as strange before it strikes me as appealing.

Spacetraveller said...


"And I must confess that I'm so used to her serious face that her smile strikes me as strange before it strikes me as appealing."

I do know what you mean!

Anonymous said...

The pout is actually called- "the duck face" by us guys. And it's stupid.

amy said...

For more info (pictures) of duckface, please see:

Spacetraveller said...

@ Danny,

Thanks for providing me with the male opinion on this!
Somehow I am relieved to hear what you say. I agree the 'duck face' doesn't exactly look appealing.

@ Amy,

Why do these women do it? Who is telling them that this is a good look?
I really don't know where this trend came from or how it got started. Anyone know?

amy said...

Spacetraveler, most women who adopt these sneers are simply imitating what is perceived as sexy by culture at large without much thought as to why.
(Disclaimer: I know neither if sneering is truly attractive nor if the following explanation is correct.)
When I was a teenager we asked my friend's mom why the supermodels don't smile. She told us that the modeling world (and pornography) aims to objectify the body, whereas smiling reveals personality. The idea is to diminish the perception of personality while increasing the sex appeal. Hence sneer=sexy.

The snarl I think is an imitation of an animal-like sexual aggression.

The duckface is a failed attempt to have big kissy lips (I'm glad that Danny chimed in.)

Spacetraveller said...


These are the best explanations I have received on this matter! Thank you.
This all makes me want to smile more ;)

Bellita said...

Interestingly, the original models--"mannequins" in French--were unattractive women. They were supposed to show off the clothes without distracting from them. I remember reading a historical anecdote about a woman who tried to engage one of the models in conversation. The appalled couturier cried, "Madame! Do not speak to the girls! They are not there!"

These days, I suppose a "sneer" is as good as a "Do not speak to me!" sign.

just visiting said...

I think there might be something to that. I remember for a while there, the "blank" look was all the rage in fashion magazines. Though no doubt helped out by the rampant drug use in the industry at the time.

@ Bellita
The appalled couturier cried, "Madame! Do not speak to the girls! They are not there!"

Gwen Stephani got her self in trouble a few years ago doing that with the Harajuku girls.

Spacetraveller said...


This is all so very interesting!
Amazing how a profession (modeling) has dominated the female (external) persona in recent times.
Amy is right in that there is a lot of 'mindless' copycatting going on.
The reasons for the models acting a certain way in their professional life are valid, I guess.
The spillover into everyday life is absurd and disturbing.
And frankly depressing, because now the younger generation no doubt believe this is the way to go...without knowing exactly why not...
And the men are just thinking (if most men have the same idea about this as Danny): 'this is just stupid'... men will never turn down sex if they can get it, a hapless young woman might associate her 'duck face' with 'success' with men...
How very tragic...

dannyfrom504 said...

just google duckface, then check the "images" section of google.

Spacetraveller said...


Danny, there is clearly more to this phenomenon than I had previously thought.

Something else occurred to me as I perused these photos of 'duckfaced' women (and men, by the way, although I 'get it' that they are only making a parody of the women who do this).

Whilst I liked Amy's explanation very much because it made sense, could the 'duckface' phenomenon (and in this sense we have to separate it from the sneer/snarl) just be the attempt of thin-lipped women to emulate the fuller-lipped races, eg. black, asian?
If so, then I back off. Because that to me seems perfectly reasonable.

So, whilst I admit that 'duckface' might look stupid on certain women (because they may not have the facial structure for it), I can accept that it is a genuine attempt to make themselves more attractive somehow (...ah, I am really clutching at straws here, but I am trying to see something good in this).

But there is no excuse for the sneer or the snarl...
Is my logic a little off here?

dannyfrom504 said...

the duckface is about trying to be sexy.

the sneer/snarl- no clue. as Badger pointed out before- girls are more concerned with "looking hot" than "being pretty".

hot= slut
pretty= relationship material

metak said...


"So, whilst I admit that 'duckface' might look stupid on certain women (because they may not have the facial structure for it), I can accept that it is a genuine attempt to make themselves more attractive somehow (...ah, I am really clutching at straws here, but I am trying to see something good in this)."

I just love it how some women think.. ;-)
"I want to be more attractive so I'll stop smiling.." ;-) the ultimate turn off for most men.. ;-)

I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope that most of women will start imitating the "duck tape over their mouths" expression and maybe we'll have a few moments of silence.. ;-)

p.s. new Tom Leykis follower.. ;-)

Spacetraveller said...


Wouldn't that be a man's ultimate dream?
The 'duck tape over their mouths' expression' indeed!

Love it!

But sorry to break this bad news to you, mate. This won't 'catch on' anytime soon.
But nice idea, Metak!

Speaking of models, and how their poses/facial expressions are influencing how women portray themselves, their exaggerated walks on the catwalk is said to enhance their WHR (of which models actually have a pretty high ratio given that they are usually 'pencil-shaped' rather than 'curvy'). Also the stance at an angle with the hand on hip pose...all designed to give the impression of a WHR of around 70%.
I was thinking - models really need to do that precisely because they often have a high WHR and therefore are androgynous-looking. But most women in the normal weight range don't need to enhance their WHR (as it is already normal) so they don't need to exaggerate their hips when thy walk, nor stand in that strange way...

metak said...


Yes.. from time to time I get crazy idea.. ;-) it reminds me of a TV commercial where a couple are sitting in a bar or something.. she's talking, talking.. and he's pretending that he's listening while watching big TV behind her.. ;-)

Nothing in that industry is normal or natural.. some gay men and women hating men are enjoying themselves in that business. Models might be trying to accomplish something but whatever it is they're failing and the worst thing is that large numbers of women like that crap.

You used V. Beckham as an example.. I never liked her precisely because of her face.. no smile = no fun ;-)

Ceer said...

The duckface is tacky. I've thought that the women doing it were trying to imitate kissing. Your take is equally plausible and equally ridiculous. There are certain types of demeanor that are attractive. Honest smiles, inquisitive questioning glances, sympathetic looks are some big ones. It's not as much the type of facial form (smiling, frowning, etc) that men find attractive; it's more the attitude behind it.

Also, the report about Victoria's assertion that she doesn't like the way she looks when she smiles is plausible. There are some attractive women with terrible looking smiles out there.

Spacetraveller said...

@ Ceer,

"It's not as much the type of facial form (smiling, frowning, etc) that men find attractive; it's more the attitude behind it."

Yes, this makes sense to me. A real smile shows a happy demeanor. A fake smile is easily spotted.

I actually think Mrs. Beckham's 'absence of a smile' is far better than the sneer or the duckface. In this sense, 'neutral' is so much better than 'negative'.