Can You Smile Well When the Photographer says “Cheese”?

a meme about "say cheese"

The world is full of appreciation for smiles. Talk about literati, pop culture icons, your friendly neighborhood social media influencer, or even a noted political figure; people have much to say about smiles. 

But what you don’t see as ubiquitously are the challenges of mustering a natural smile. 

This is an ode to the folks that know what I mean.

  1. Not everyone has a natural smile-friendly face. We must accept that only some are attuned to delivering on the requirement of a genuine smile. The right length, width, and circumference are not up everyone’s alley.
  2. Not everyone has perfect teeth or the confidence to rock the haphazard teeth ‘devil may care’ smile. There is a unique emotion that courses through you when you are asked to smile for a picture, knowing full well that your front teeth are a picture from the aftermath of a scene of a road roller gone awry.
  3. Not everyone was a good kid growing up. Aka, not everyone listened to their parents when they were told to not disturb their mouth’s ecosystem after they broke their milk teeth. For those few days, the intimate relationship between the tongue and the teeth has to be on hold. These kids decided to play the rebel and make sure vertical teeth growth was impossible (that’ll show my nagging mom, they thought!)
  4. Not everyone brushed their teeth before going to sleep. It is no fun. You know it’s a must as an adult, but we all know that as kids, we live like there is no tomorrow.

For the longest time, I would just shy away from getting my pictures clicked, dreading the 1,2, 3, say cheese part. Some photographs were an absolute must, so I had no option but to conquer my fear, be the bigger person, and SMILE. 

Of course, that smile was toothless, tight-lipped, as distinctively ‘creepy’ and ‘cringeworthy’ as you can imagine. My eyes and lips would never be in synch, and I sometimes picture a psychiatrist analyzing me in one of my class photographs, going, ‘this kid might have grown up to be a psycho.’ 

I can’t say I find that image comforting.

And then there is Yoko Ono,

“Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning, and you’ll see a big difference in your life”.

Yoko Ono has yet to meet me, doesn’t she?


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