Do You Know When to Smile and When to Smize?

May 06, 2015, by Dr. Becky Coats

A lot of people don’t know what a smize is, but it’s actually a useful expression to be able to pull off when the moment calls for it. Tyra Banks coined the word in 2009 when she was trying to explain her look to contestants on America’s Next Top Model. Like all Tyra Banks coinages–what is sometimes called “Tyraspeak”–the smize has gone through high and low points in popularity, though now it seems to be coming back into its own, and it might just be here to stay.

And if smize is going to be part of our linguistic vocabulary, it should become part of your expressive vocabulary as well. If you don’t know how and when to smize, we’ll help you out.

What Is a Smize?

Tyra Banks describes a smize as a smile with the eyes, but it’s actually a subtler variation on the Duchenne smile, sometimes described as a "genuine" smile.

  1. Tyra Banks SmizeA smize begins with a relaxed facial expression. Although this isn’t a real smile, Tyra says you can’t smize if you’re unhappy.
  2. Next, open your eyes wide and focus an intense gaze on your target. Since this is an expression for modeling, you’re normally looking at a camera, but you can focus your smize on people, too. By opening your eyes wide, you are engaging the muscles that are key to the Duchenne smile, but you’re utilizing them differently.
  3. Next, crack a little bit of a smile. It should have a little rise at the corners of the mouth without opening the lips. This is easier if you’re a person with a commissure smile as opposed to a cuspid smile.
  4. To give your smize the proper look, you have to properly position your shoulders, neck, and head. The main key is to elongate the neck by pulling your shoulders down and imagining your head is being pulled up by a string.

Smizing doesn’t come naturally to all people. If you’re not sure you’re doing it right, practice it regularly in the mirror. Then take a few selfies and see how you and your friends feel about it.

Smizing Up the Situation

But how do you know when to break out your smize? Here are a few good opportunities.

  • If selfies aren’t for having fun, what are they for? Break out your smize and show the world you can pose with the best of them.
  • When someone says something irritating, but social convention doesn’t let you call them out right then and there, a smize is a great diplomatic expression. It lets you smile with your mouth while fixing your adversary with your fiercest gaze.
  • But the smize isn’t just for selfies and frenemies, it’s an important tool for professionals who want to look their best in pictures. A smize is midway between a full smile (which can undermine your seriousness) and a neutral expression (which can look angry or distant.
  • And, of course, if you find yourself on the red carpet and want to burn it up like J.Lo did at last week’s Latin American Music Awards, a smize is an essential tool.

Otherwise, you’ll want to lean on your smile. It’s important to know that a smize is not a real substitute for a smile, so if  you’re hoping it will make it easier for you to hide a smile you’re not comfortable with, we have bad news for you.

On the other hand, if you are uncomfortable with your smile, we have good news: cosmetic dentistry can give you a smile you’ll be happy to share in the right situations. To learn more, please call (817) 481-6888 for an appointment with a Grapevine cosmetic dentist at Grapevine Dental Care.