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Fingers and Fumbs - Smiling/Frowning

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Molly Cule
326076.  Sun Apr 27, 2008 2:07 pm Reply with quote

Q14. Why is easier to smile than frown?

[FORFEIT: because it takes less muscles to smile]

A14. Despite what every happy-go-lucky person tells you, it actually takes more muscles to smile than to frown. However, unless you're extremely grumpy, smiling is easier because you exercise those muscles more.


The myth found on greetings cards, email forwards and spread about the press and by word of mouth for years is that is takes more muscles to frown than the smile. The idea is that you may as well smile and be happy as it is much easier than being grumpy. It is also the best option if you are lazy.

However, it actually takes one more muscle to smile than to frown, there are 53 facial muscles, 12 of which are needed to smile a genuine smile (called a zygomatic smile) and 11 of which are needed to frown.

A genuine smile takes two muscles to crinkle the eyes, two to pull up the lip corners and nose, two to elevate the mouth angle, and two to pull the mouth corners sideways. Total to smile: 12.
On the other hand, a frown needs two muscles to pull down the lips and wrinkles in the lower face, three to furrow the brow, one to purse the lips, one to depress the lower lip, and two to pull the mouth corners down. Total to frown: 11.

The reason it is still easiest to smile, despite smiling needing the use of one extra muscle is that the average person's smile muscles will be in better shape than their frowning muscles, that is, of course, unless the subject is a particularly cross sort of person.

These are the names of the muscles used to smile:

Zygomaticus major and minor. lift corners of the mouth.
Orbicularis oculi. Crinkles the eyes.
Levator labii superioris. Pulls up corner of lip and nose each side.
Levator anguli oris. Elevates angle of mouth each side.
Risorius. Pulls corner of mouth to the side.

These are the names of the muscles used to frown:
Orbicularis oculi again
Platysma. Pulls down lips and wrinkles skin of lower face.
Corrugator supercilii (bilateral) and procerus (unilateral). Furrows brow.
Orbicularis oris. Encircles mouth; purses lips.
Mentalis. Depresses lower lip.
Depressor anguli oris. Pulls corner of mouth down.

Incidentally, a deadpan, fake smile only needs the two risorius muscles, so if least effort is what you are truly after then being insincere is the best way to get there.

327142.  Tue Apr 29, 2008 9:21 am Reply with quote

Perhaps add Dr Bob's nice witticism:

annoying sod: "You know, it takes 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 to smile"

witty riposte: "Yeah, but it only takes 6 muscles to punch you in the face, so..."


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