Today I want to discuss the red and juicy part of our face- the lips. Along with the eyes they make the main features of our face, meaning that they participate in many different expressions and attract a lot of attention.
Since we have a whole section focused on eye contact, it's only appropriate that we dedicate time to learn what the mouth can tell us too, non-verbally.
So, what do we need lips for?
First of all, let's acknowledge the fact that the lips are actually a part of your skin. Only in our case it's a very special part. It's thin, moveable and sensitive - tucked with massive amount of nerve endings, perfect for other utilities other than just covering our teeth.
Note: by the way, the reason we get chapped lips are due to the fact they lack sweat glands. (Who would want sweaty lips anyway?) But this absence means it lacks the lubrication the body oils provide, and in dry weather it kinda sucks...
If we look at other animals, we'll find different kind of lips, which are quite unlike ours – Birds and turtles have beaks, and in many other animals the lips are just a cover of skin over their mouth.
Mammals have the closest resemblance to ours, especially in primates, and have specific muscles that control the lips. But even then, they're not as prominent or distinguished as ours.
Unlike in other animals, our lips seem to have more "attractive" features. They are red, luscious, and pretty much anything about them yells: "look at me! Taste me!". This is a big hint to the difference in utility between us and other animals. They don't use the lips to communicate, except when they snarl to threat others by revealing their teeth, or in some rare species, kiss each other.
We humans have a variety of uses for them. We use them to verbalize words, and perhaps more importantly, we also use them to communicate non-verbally. In fact, lips play a big part in our sexual communication and one of our erogenous zones. Their shape, color and size easily create attraction, and their sensitivity makes them perfect for kissing, for example.
Now that we've cleared their importance, let's look at some mouth expressions and see how they convey emotions:
As an erogenous part, the lips are packed with many nerve endings and are very sensitive to touch. Even a slight brush can stimulate them and an intense kissing has an exhilarating effect in your whole body.
I won't elaborate here more because I already wrote this series.
A biological match-test?
This one pretty much speaks for itself. The lips pressed together to create a thin line. The jaw is often locked, what gives an overall tense, tight and solid image. Sometime the lips are even swallowed (more on that in the next page).
Keep it cool
This mouth expression indicates some sort of emotional tension or self-restraint. It can be anger, sadness, anxiety and\or frustration – depends on the context. I always imagine it as if the lips act like a dam, holding someone from bursting and flushing out their true feelings.
So while it's associated with negative feelings, this type of restraint can be viewed as admirable - the stiff upper lip, an expression most familiar with the British people, is seen as personal strength, the will to maintain composure even in face of bad news. It's actually synonymous with another phrase and expression - "keep your chin up"
Of course, not all view this as a good quality as it appears cold and somewhat snobbish.
Slightly parted lips, on the contrary, are evident in more exciting occasions - In courtship. When a couple is about to kiss, or one desires it, one of the telltale signs is that they keep their lips slightly loose and dart glances to their partner's lips. It's a preparation step for the actual kiss, after all, you want to be sure and ready, and not to accidently bump into a wall of teeth!