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Smiling Victorians: why it's a myth that our ancestors didn't smile for pictures

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https://www.historyextra.com/period/victorian/why-victorians-didnt-smile-pictures-myth-smiling-portraits/

historyextra.com

Smiling Victorians: why it's a myth that our ancestors didn't smile for pictures
Our image of the Victorians is shaped by the photographs we see in history books – stern, austere and relentlessly severe. Yet there was a playful side to our 19th-century ancestors, and Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones has the proof. Here he introduces a selection of portraits that show the sitters doing something entirely unexpected: smiling

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The old Victorian picture style

The old Victorian picture style

If you have a look at Victorian pictures dating from the 19th century, you will soon enough realize that back then people did not really smile. The reason for this involves two elements:

    ...

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The picture called 'A playful smile' (mid-1850s)

The picture called 'A playful smile' (mid-1850s)

This picture is one of the earliest proofs that Victorians could also smile in photos.

The model is a young lady who poses typically for the period, however, letting a smile be seen on her ...

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The 'Giggling gent' picture (c1889)

The 'Giggling gent' picture (c1889)

The picture shows a family who is captured a bit earlier than expected, fact that allows us to see everybody's natural laughter. This is what used to be known as 'Gigglemug' or 'habitually smiling ...

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The 'Three happy boys' picture (c. 1889)

The 'Three happy boys' picture (c. 1889)

The photo was taken after the Kodak had already been launched, which enabled photos of poor people also being taken.

The picture shows three little boys laughing and having the time of thei...

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The 'Childish humour' picture (c1865)

The 'Childish humour' picture (c1865)

The photo shows a happy baby sitting on his mother's lap, as comfortable as possible.

The baby is laughing and the mother is smiling- the mother-child bond was actually at the center o...

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The picture of the 'Smiling Queen Victoria' (July 1887)

The picture of the 'Smiling Queen Victoria' (July 1887)

The photo shows Queen Victoria smiling in her carriage during the celebrations held in honour to her golden jubilee in Newport. The Queen was known for her wicked humour and passion for salacious g...

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The picture of 'A kiss beneath the mistletoe' (c1880)

The photo shows a couple of elderly people posing at Christmas time. Both of them look happy and at peace.

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The 'Goofing around' picture (c1897)

The 'Goofing around' picture (c1897)

The photo illustrates two women and a gentleman, who is making a bit of a fool of himself. Actually the Victorian humour was mostly based on physical slapstick to which one would often add wordplay...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Smile ≠ happy

Smile ≠  happy

Those who smile often are thought of as more likeable, competent, approachable, friendly and attractive.

Of 19 different types of smile, only six occur when we’re having a good time. The r...

Duchenne smile

Duchenne was interested in the mechanics of facial expressions, including how the muscles of the face contract to produce a smile.

The Duchenne‘ smile is long and intense, though it involves the contraction of just two muscles. First the zygomatic major, which resides in the cheek, tugs at the corners of the mouth, then the orbicularis oculi, which surrounds the eye, pulls up the cheeks, leading to the characteristic ‘twinkling eyes’.

Fear smile

“When bonobo chimpanzees are afraid they’ll expose their teeth and draw their lips back so that their gums are exposed,” says Zanna Clay, a primatologist at the University of Birmingham.

In babies, a broad grin can either mean they’re happy or distressed and studies have shown that men tend to smile more around those considered to be higher status.

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Laughter

It is generally considered a positive emotion and is a vital social, emotional and cognitive function. It is a communal activity that encourages bonding, reduces any possible conflict, and e...

Laughter is a Complex Emotion

The complex emotion of laughter has the power to override other emotions. The neurotransmitters (brain circuits) are controlling the facial muscles and vocal architecture, giving priority to positive emotions.

There are several brain pathways that contribute to laughter, like the regions of decision-making, behavior control, and our brains emotional circuitry.

The Underlying Neural Functions

Various studies and research have shed some light on the underlying neural functions of the brain features that result in laughter being expressed by the body.

Pseudobulbar Affect Syndrome is a condition involving an unsettling exhibition of laughter, characterized by frequent, involuntary and uncontrollable outbursts of laughing and crying. This Syndrome is due to a disconnect between the frontal pathways of the brainstem, which control emotional drives, and is associated with several disorders like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and stroke.

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Humor during a crisis

For ancient Greek philosophers, humor was something that had the potential to undermine authority and the good order.

Today, in democratic societies, those in power are mocked and their p...

The power of laughter

  • Humor, in a way, protects us from life's grim reality. We joke because if we didn't, we'd cry.
  • Humor and laughing are also a social vocalization that includes some and excludes others. Jokes establish who is inside the group and who is not. We laugh with people to belong, and at others to exclude.
  • In our current crises, humor is everywhere because fear is too. Laughter binds us together against a common enemy.

When to joke

Poking fun at the ills of the world is only funny if they are considered benign. No one is making memes about child abuse that may increase during periods of enforced domestic isolation.

Observations about people's behavior can be funny if they poke fun at a social norm in a relatively inoffensive way, such as hoarding toilet paper.