Our third grade teacher, Ms. Schmid always used to say that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. Ms. Schmid was the best* - she bore a slight resemblance to the Muppet character Miss Piggy BUT she fully embraced it - she had a Miss Piggy doll in her classroom. She also used to have a jar of pretzels on top of a cabinet by her hallway door and all of the teachers would swing by, even while we were in class, to grab some pretzels and say hi.
We have always wondered if that saying was true, especially because smiles are something we love here at VHQ. So we tasked our crack investigative team (aka, the "V-Team"), fresh off of their soon-to-be-released investigation of whether it is better to be lucky than good** and before heading off on their expedition to figure out why some people put ketchup on a hot dog, to answer this age-old question. The V-Team finished their exhaustive research,*** and came up with the following answer: No. There is no evidence supporting this. While some articles seemed to imply you could determine the exact number of muscles it takes to smile or frown, the interconnectedness of human facial muscles makes it really difficult to determine exactly how many and which muscles are used when smiling or frowning. That said, we know that smiling generally exercises the upper cheek and eye area more, while frowning uses the muscles around the lower mouth and chin. Some research hypotheses that since humans tend to smile more than we frown, the muscles used to smile are stronger and as a result, it does not seem as hard to smile. But the fact that we can't tell for sure how many muscles are needed to smile or frown doesn't mean that there aren't other meaningful differences between the two.
For example, smiling does tend to create "smile lines" around the corners of the mouth and "laugh lines" around the corners of the eye, while frowns tend to create wrinkles between the eyes and at the edges of the mouth (resulting in a "perma-frown"). Thus, those who smile more and those who frown more are likely to have those expressions etched permanently across their face!**** Some studies seemed to have found that the "smilers" among us also feel happier, even if there are no other changes to their situation or environment. Smilers are also more approachable and contribute to the happiness of those around them. People who frown a lot tend to be more crabby and we can attest that no one likes to be around Don & Debby Downers.
Though smiling may not necessarily take fewer muscles than frowning, smiling looks way better and makes you and the people around you feel better (which, of course, reminds us of a Velomino tracksuit!).
Let's keep those smiles coming, People!
* Footnote - Unlike our sixth grade teacher, Ms. N who was famous for chain smoking in the teachers' lounge (this was the 80s!).
** Footnote - Lucky.
*** Footnote - meaning, they did some internet searches on their phones before they spent 20 minutes doom-scrolling through IG/TikTok at bed time because they clearly have way more important things to do than to help us out with this blog post.
****Footnote - just like your mom warned you!