Have you ever wondered what it is about professional models that makes their photos so … alluring?
I mean, yeah, they’ve got a killer beauty and makeup team, professional equipment, and photo editors. But even then, good models know how to make their faces look confident, beautiful, and even a little mysterious.
You don’t have to go to modeling school to figure this out, either. It’s called the smize, which is a consolidated way of saying “smiling with your eyes.” It’s the best way to communicate with your eyes without a ton of makeup or fancy edits.
Ready to rock a little model fierceness in your next selfie? Learn what a smize is, where it came from, and nine expert tips for smizing your way to selfie perfection.
What’s a smize?
Smiling with your eyes, or smizing, creates a genuine lift of the lips and intensity in your eyes that people love. It’s the best way to show your personality with your eyes. Instead of blankly looking ahead, you can convey something more meaningful with a quick smize.
Smizing focuses all of the attention on your eyes, but it’s important to lift the corners of the mouth just a smidge so you look more friendly instead of bitchy (or even creepy). And yes, the smize does make a few small crinkles around your eyes, but that’s okay! We’re taught that creases are a no-no, but this is how other people know you’re happy, so crinkle away.
The purpose of the smize is to make you look confident, happy, and genuine. It takes a little practice to nail the perfect smize, but once you crack the code, you’ll feel good every time you snap a pic.
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You can’t go wrong with smizing, honestly. It’s great for just about every selfie occasion, such as:
- Snapping a quick pic at brunch when the light’s hitting you just right.
- Updating your LinkedIn profile pic with a professional selfie that makes you look confident.
- Selfieing with a mask on (smizing lets people know you’re smiling under that mask!).
So yeah, feel free to smize at work, when you’re chilling with your friends, or when you’re updating your Tinder profile. People will gravitate to your picture and you’ll definitely turn more heads with the right smize.
The history of the smize
Where did smizing come from, though? We can all thank our fave supermodel, Tyra Banks, for bringing this word into common parlance. She invented the word during season 13 of America’s Next Top Model, when the models participated in a smizing challenge. It aired in 2009, so smizing has actually been around for decades.
Now, Mama Tyra may have invented the smize, but it’s since taken on a life of its own (and it made Tyra so famous that she launched a line of ice cream called Smize Cream).
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“Smize” has been in Urban Dictionary since 2009, and selfie-lovers have made it famous in the many years since then. I think smizing caught on because it gave us regular people the tools to get an instant “model look” without model training.
Smize tips + poses for selfie lovers
If you’re anything like me, you’ve picked up your fair share of fashion and posing ideas from ANTM. After obsessively watching Tyra for years, here are a few of my fave techniques and poses you can use to master the art of the smize.
1. Use different muscles in your face
To start, keep your face totally blank. You’ll want to change a few features at a time, subtly, to achieve the ultimate smize.
It looks pretty corny if you face the camera and dramatically raise one eyebrow, so remember to use different muscles in your face when you pose. Cameras pick up on small details, so changing how you lift your brows, squint your eyes, and angle your neck can have a big effect on your look. Every muscle in your face plays a role in smizing, so tweak everything as needed for the perfect look.
2. Tilt that chin
#ChinTilt is a must for any smize. When you’re looking at the camera, angle your chin down just a little bit. This is going to bring your eyes towards the camera and give off the illusion that they’re bigger.
Pretend that a string is pulling your chin at an angle. Try to pull back and elongate your neck, though — you’ll give yourself a double chin if you lean forward too much.
3. Watch your mouth
The smize is all about mastering the Mona Lisa smile. Smizing is all about the eyes, but a very slight smile on your lips is a must. You don’t need to bare your teeth or anything; just give a little lift to the sides of your mouth.
And yes, a smile is a must. Pouting is cool on the catwalk, but pouting with a smize makes you look angry. A little smile makes your smize look friendly and powerful, like you’re in on a secret that your followers want to know.
If you forget the subtle smile, don’t worry. A selfie editor app like Facetune2 can add a small lift to the corners of your mouth for the perfect smize.
If you’re looking stiff or robotic, your selfie will look fake, so keeping your cool is a must. Go to your happy place. For real, take a hot bath, watch a funny movie, take a nap. Do something that loosens you up and puts you in a good mood before you smize.
Smizing only looks legit if you’re actually feeling happy. Your followers can def tell a difference between a real smize and a fake one, so emotions matter! Think of a happy memory or something that makes you laugh. My go-to is watching a few minutes of standup comedy on YouTube before snapping a selfie. It’s weird, but inner happiness definitely translates into your selfies!
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5. Focus on one area
Smizing will make you look dead and zombie-ish if you let your eyes glaze over. It’s generally not a good idea to smize into the distance. Instead, choose a specific focal point while you’re snapping the shot.
Some people like to look straight into the camera for a more personal, powerful look. If that’s too direct, try holding something in your hands and looking at it or smizing off to the side.
6. Crinkles versus wrinkles
Why are we so allergic to crinkles around the eyes? The skin around your eyes is supposed to crinkle up a little, especially when you smile. In fact, you need a little crinkle when you smize to show people it’s actually a genuine smile.
Of course, you don’t want to accentuate wrinkles or give yourself crow’s feet. Try squinting with the lower lid of your eye to avoid scrunching your face too much.
And while I think you look great au naturale, you can always smooth over eye wrinkles with a quick swipe of the finger using Facetune2.
7. Accentuate your eyes with a little makeup
I love the natural look, but for the ultimate smize, you want your eyes to pop a little more. The best way to do that is with eye makeup in soft brown tones that aren’t too harsh.
If you go in with a midnight black smoky eye, it’s going to look a little too aggressive with a smize. Do a brown smoky eye with a light coating of mascara. I also like to add a swipe of light brown liner to my lower lid so my eyes look more defined without harsh lines.
8. Open your eyes nice and wide
We want crinkles when we smize, but that doesn’t mean you should squint your eyes closed. You still want people to see your gorgeous eyes! Try to keep your eyes open as wide as possible (without bulging your eyes, of course).
Sometimes it’s hard to smize outside in harsh sunlight, so try to snap a selfie in a shaded area instead. Indoors smizing is much easier, especially if you take a picture with diffused light in front of a window.
— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) November 12, 2012
9. Smize in the mirror
Hey, practice makes perfect. As you can see here, smizing ain’t easy. So put on some good tunes, grab a glass of chardonnay, and practice your signature smize. Feel free to grab your phone and snap a few smize selfies to see how you look. This will help you fine-tune your pose until you’re a smizing diva.
Nailing the smize can be tricky — but it’s worth it
Smizing’s harder than it looks, isn’t it? It might seem a little weird, but it’s good to sit in front of the mirror and practice that smize.
Smizing might have originated with Tyra, but it’s become its own thing. And what’s cool is that everyone’s smize is different. Whether you want to be broody and dark or confident and sexy, feel free to make it your own!
You can always use a selfie editor app like Facetune2 to finesse the little details so you get the perfect smize every time.