It all begins with the baby's cry. The first expression we make is a statement of pure need, designed to get noticed. The square-mouth shape produces a shrill sound more penetrating than that of a relaxed, open mouth. As the lower half of the face opens up, the top half closes down; the reflexive squinting of the eyes in crying is also instinctive in other expressions where quantities of air are expelled: laughing, sneezing, coughing.
THE TIGHTENED EYE
You can't cry with your eyes wide open, nor can you sneeze. When we do either, air is squeezed from the lungs with great force, putting pressure on tiny blood vessels in the eye. The contraction of orbicularis oculi tightens up the skin around the eye; this seems to relieve some of the pres sure. The more energetic the cry, the more tightly the muscle compresses, affecting the rest of the face as well. The full orbicularis oculi contraction in loud crying pulls down the brows, raises the cheeks, and may even help square off the mouth.
The mouth of crying is square-shaped, the result of the upward pull of the sneering muscle, which squares off the upper lip and etches nasolabial folds in the cheeks, and the outward pull of risorius/platysma, which widens the mouth and stretches the lower lip. The square mouth is often framed, as here, by one long crease from nose to chin, like a tear's path.
The signature wrinkles of full orbicularis oculi contraction—smile-shaped fold (A), star wrinkles between the eye (B), and lowered brow—dominate the upper face. A single crow's foot wrinkle (C) is the precursor of more to come. Dimple (D) and bulging (E) are characteristic of contracted corrugator. Puffed cheeks and nasolabial folds (F) are caused by sneering muscle; bracket folds at mouth corner (G) by risorius/platysma.
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