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Niamh Greene: Celebs who don't smile? They're just as self-conscious as the rest of us


Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

You'd think that Kanye West would have a lot to smile about, wouldn't you?

He's worth millions and is married to media sensation Kim Kardashian, so by anyone's standards he should be grinning like a Cheshire cat 24/7.

Yet he never fails to look less than completely miserable when he appears in public.

Whether posing on the red carpet or walking down an LA street, Kanye usually sports a face like thunder. Speaking last week, he explained why he favours his a misery-guts look.

"Back when I was working on [his album] Yeezus I saw this book from the 1800s and it was velvet-covered with brass and everything," he said.

"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 asking, 'Why you not smiling?' and I think, not smiling makes me smile.

"When you see paintings in an old castle, people are not smiling 'cause it just wouldn't look as cool.'"

On reading this my first reaction was to laugh out loud. Could a grown man really be so concerned with what people think of him that he tries to wear a mask at all times? That has to be exhausting, not to mention pointless.


But Kayne West isn't alone in thinking this way. Victoria Beckham is another celebrity who has a seemingly zero tolerance policy towards smiling in public.

Despite her wealth and beauty, it seems Victoria can't bring herself to crack a smile.

She recently joked that she feels a responsibility to the fashion industry to maintain her poker face, implying that she's very aware that people think her always sullen expression is strange.

But could there be more to it? Could it be that, in spite of all their glittering successes, Victoria and Kanye are actually too self-conscious to just be themselves when the camera is on them?

Maybe maintaining a surly look is their armour against the world, the sort of act a hormonal teenager would put on when feeling insecure.

If this is the case I can empathise, because I have had my own issues with smiling in the past.

When I was young I had the sort of buck teeth that could have put Bugs Bunny to shame. A few years of orthodontic treatment straightened them out, but it couldn't fix the fact that I was still self conscious about my smile.

I had become so fixated by my teeth that I continued to try to hide them whenever a camera was produced.


The result was countless photos of me looking idiotically wooden compared to beaming friends and family. An unwelcome side effect was developing what's called a resting bitchy face.

I became so used to not smiling that my default mode became a moody and unapproachable glower, something I was totally unaware of until it was pointed out to me by more than one person.

Luckily, I slowly began to understand that smiling was far more attractive than scowling and pictures of me laughing, unaware of the camera, bore this out.

Interestingly, when rare pictures emerge of Victoria Beckham smiling she looks absolutely stunning. Likewise when Kanye is captured grinning at his wife or baby daughter, he glows.

Of course, my theory could be wrong. Maybe Kanye and Victoria aren't self-conscious at all. Perhaps they do genuinely think it's deeply uncool to smile and that people who do are losers.

If that's the case then I guess I'll never be part of their gang, cool or not.