Kanye West has every reason to smile. A beautiful wife. A beautiful daughter. A fortune worth an estimated $130 million. A cultural legacy that will probably outlive anyone alive today. And yet, he is a man who doesn’t smile.

And recently he shared the reason why.

Kanye’s Reasons

Kanye said that he has two reasons he doesn’t smile:

“Back when I was working on Yeezus, I saw this book from the 1800s and it was velvet-covered with brass and everything. I looked at all these people’s photos, and they look so real, and their outfits were incredible, and they weren’t smiling. People, you know, the paparazzi, always come up to me: ‘Why you not smiling?’ And I think, not smiling makes me smile. When you see paintings in an old castle, people are not smiling because it just wouldn’t look as cool.

So, there you have it. It’s partly just being contrary and a way for him to lash out at the paparazzi, but it’s also partly about a misguided sense of why people didn’t used to smile in photos and in paintings.

But although it might look cool to us to see these people in pictures not smiling, people didn’t really do it to look cool.”

Kanye in Context

499px-Grant_DeVolson_Wood_-_American_GothicThe notion of smiling frequently and especially for pictures is an American invention of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is partly born of advertisers who are trying to sell America on the idea of happiness. But it was partly born of dentistry that was giving people the ability to smile and show a mouth that wasn’t empty of teeth, but one that was full of bright, beautiful chompers.

And it was born of the photograph, the wonderful invention that suddenly allowed us to create something that had never been seen before: a candid picture. With an instant camera, you could capture a person in the midst of a moment, unconsciously being themselves and showing their natural expression, which is often a smile.

Of course, people at that time could probably have never imagined the mischief that would be wrought with cameras in the hand of the paparazzi. Perhaps if they could, they might not have smiled, either.

If you do like to show your smile in pictures but wish you had a better one, we can help. Please call 310-275-5325 for an appointment with a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist at Ravon Knopf.