Facial expressions in photos change with the times, don't they? My stoic great great grandparents look like statues, their eyes staring into the middle distance like shell-shocked soliders. There's not a wandering eye or disobedient child in sight... just utter, eerie stillness.
In the twentieth century, the smile crept into photos, notably the ginormous toothy (top and bottom, baby) grin that so demarcates an American in any photo. Even -- shock, horror! -- models eventually caved into the smile (Christie, Cheryl, Farrah et al... However that trend's long gone. I bet you've never seen Kate Moss's snaggle teeth).
Poses, though, have evolved in a strange way over the last 15 years (or 10 years, if you use Zoolander as year zero in the era of Duckface) that begs a good analysis from a thorough cultural anthropologist.
We've taken our lips in pictures to extreme -- patently ridiculous -- levels of poutiness, creating The Duckface. Lips are pushed out in such an exaggerated idiotic manner as to mimic the beak of Daffy Duck himself. And daffy it is.
When on earth did this facial rendition of a puckered a**ehole become considered sexy? No, you don't look like you have naturally big lips when you do this. Nor do your cheekbones look more defined (at least not in a good way). In fact, no one's even looking at your cheekbones. They're memerized by your too-horrible-to-look-away-from mouth, like an oral car crash. Yes, people are gaping at you like they do a five-car pile up on the side of the highway.
A generation (probably several now) will have nothing but digital portraits of Duckface snapped with a camera phone held at an arm's length to remember (and shudder at) their youthful follies in (one hopes although one starts to get more skeptical the more self-portraits one sees) wiser, older times.
Poster child for the vacuous vanity of the Millenials – Megan "surgery is my hobby" Fox – even contorted her pointless features into said mess for a Super Bowl advert (in jest, we hope (however we gloomily suspect not)).
Sure, people have been snapping self-portraits since cameras existed, but it's sad to think that this cocked-head, arm-in-the-air, duck-billed mess will be the trademark of our era. It is the aesthetic legacy we're leaving the world. Fitting, since the world's pretty much now populated with self-loving morons (you happy, Ayn Rand?)... It's a modern-day Dark Age as far as I'm concerned.
Personally, I would kill to see an anti-Duckface petition started and distributed on a global scale because this is a problem that has no national allegiance. Our narcissism sweeps across oceans and continents, capturing entire vain, gadget-loving, navel-gazing populations in a moment of bad decision making forever.
In an ideal world, perhaps we, the self-appointed Duckface police, could gain access to things like MySpace and Facebook to swap all Duckface photos of the world with generic, pleasant profile pics (or, perhaps a medical image of an arsehole, since that what the Duckfacers look like anyway...). Surely we'd be given access to such personal information as log-ins and passwords in the name of The Greater Good (of our retinas). I think it's a worthy cause.
What really irks me, though, is that girls do these pouts to mimic the accidental (accidental being the key word here) trout pouts plastered across the sad faces of porn stars, reality television actors (hell, even real actors) and glamour models, not understanding that, for example, Jenna Jameson's lips were not meant to look like that after she had them done. And these stars so admired by younger generations continue to go to ever extremer measures in order to get noticed in our of fickle and constant media (bigger boobs, deeper tans, taller platform heels, bigger lips, tighter jowls, raunchier songs and stage shows...). These stars are DESPERATE and/or delusional and/or cosmetic surgery junkies (going and going like collagen Energizer Bunniers), kiddos, not to be looked up to just because they're in the limelight.
Which brings me back to a theory I often come back to, which is that looking like a prostitute seems to be more and more what normal girls want -- prostitution and pornography have been mainstreamed to such an extent that girls no only want to be like that, they think it's the only way to be and be accepted/sexy/cool/noticed by boys. Scary.
Although it's (opportunistically speaking) GREAT for those of us who don't walk the porn chic path in life (and pictures). I mean, who would you, as an employer, rather hire after researching potential candidates online? The girl who's grinding against another girl like she's doing it for a living (or her next fix), wearing next to nothing, and making a Duckface or the one who looks like a dressed, respectable (and self-respecting), educated (because, yes, Duckface and embracing a porn aesthetic do make you look stupid) person? I know who I'd be biased towards, and I don't feel bad saying it. You know who you would too, and don't even try that 'don't judge a book by it's cover' BS on me with this. You as an employee represent a company and unless that company is owned by Larry Flint, I'm pretty sure it won't embrace your antics. And what the hell are you broadcasting to the world about Brand You if you do the former? That you charge $50 for a quickie?
What do you think about the Duckface? Are you guilty of it? Sure, I bet we've all done it at least once but what separates the self-aware and reformed from the consumate duckfacer?
To get a glimpse of some of the best (read: worst) Duckface out there, visit Stop Making That Duckface... one of the funniest chronicles of this pop culture trend. Mostly because it's (sadly) true.