When I was a young girl my mother told me that a person’s eyes were the gateway to their heart. Ten years on, that statement is still safely embedded in my mind. I don’t remember where I was when I heard it, or whether there was anyone else there at the time, but I remember exactly how it made me feel. My judgement of people was never going to be the same again.
Without sounding pitiless, when we meet someone for the first time we will analyse their appearance. Their image, their body language, their manner each gives a lot away about that person. Facial expression, above all, tells us the most. The face shows true characteristics of an individual, conveying a message about something internal within them. It gives the onlooker the privilege to almost see inside one’s mind. Without facial expression it would be significantly difficult to put out and receive real emotion.
How we perceive someone for the first time must be very dependent on the individual and their tastes, but is it possible for certain facial features to say something about ones personality? As stated at the beginning, I believe a lot is given away through the eyes. The eyes have a way of giving out a lot of information about how a person is feeling, without doing very much.
Non-verbal communication is one of the most powerful tools we use to convey a feeling, emotion or mood and the amount which is conveyed through the face is extensive. Interestingly, hidden emotion/expression can be just as powerful. Many photographers and film makers experiment with this idea, in order to create mystery and to shift focus. Toyin, the London based fashion photographer and director, often uses young models who look natural and have very vacant expressions. This has a lot to do with the focus being shifted away from the model, so that the attention is on something else. In terms of fashion filming, the lack of expression enhances the clothes. When an expression is so strong it can often overrule everything else.
Whether or not emotion rightly parallels its physical signifier is an on-going question. The way I see it, everyone is individual, no freckle is the same and therefore we must portray and receive expressions in different ways. We are all aware of the obvious signifiers to particular emotions. Big bright eyes will often signify happiness, and small sloping eyes will usually show sadness, but what happens when certain lines cross, or when people try to hide their emotions? Any subject that relates to the human mind is going to be a complex one. Psychologists are still trying to work it out. All of us are still trying to work it out. Hopefully soon we’ll come to terms with the fact that we’ll never really know. Our faces, just like our minds, are unique to every individual.