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The Impact of a Smile

As a kid, I remember walking down the second floor hallway of my grandparents house and noticing some pictures on their wall. In fact, they were a bit scary because they just looked like angry people. A few years later I learned that the “pictures” were portraits of my ancestors, who simply were not smiling.

When I walked on the Virginia Beach boardwalk yesterday, I noticed that several people smiled at me and some even waved and it made me feel good. I think that we all shared the common experience of the sunrise, and the joy of just being outside.

Which brings me to the question of why those old portraits always had people that looked angry. Angry enough to scare a kid!

In the “old days” of the 18th and 19th century or so, smiling was considered to be poor etiquette. That’s why our friendliest of politicians were never smiling in a photograph.


In 1703, St. Jean-Baptiste De La Salle wrote The Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility. He stated that, There are some people who raise their upper lip so high… that their teeth are almost entirely visible. This is entirely contradictory to decorum, which forbids you to allow your teeth to be uncovered, since nature gave us lips to conceal them.

Mark Twain even expressed that, A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever.

Supposedly, photographers would ask people to say prunes instead of cheese, to get the correct serious look. Thankfully, we now smile. Kodak is credited with changing the mindset of smiling in photos, because of their marketing campaigns for their Brownie cameras.

When we smile… we can help others smile. Although, I am uncertain what Mark Twain would now say about the advancement of a smile… to the selfie!

Have a great weekend!!!

And for our Friday pic o’ day…


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