Monday 16 December 2019

Why does Victoria Beckham never smile?

Most of the royal box at Wimbledon was hollering and cheering at the great final, with one notable exception - Victoria Beckham

Victoria and David Beckham
Victoria and David Beckham
David and Victoria Beckham yesterday

The men’s final at Wimbledon 2014 will go down as one of the finest ever, with a celebrity-packed Centre Court cheering on the gripping five-set battle between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

But there was one person in the royal box who did not crack a smile; who never appeared to wince when Djokovic slid dangerously along the baseline; who failed to cheer when Federer fought back to take it into a fifth set: Victoria Beckham.

Beckham sat dispassionately, with her lips pursed, throughout the three hours and 56 minutes, and managed to make Prince Michael of Kent look positively relaxed - an impressive feat.

Judy James, a body-language expert, says Beckham’s pout is now a trademark: “With her, life is one big selfie. She has rehearsed that look and she likes it. Come hell and high water, she’s not going to change it. It’s the same with her standing pose, with the pelvis jutting out and her hand on hip - 'the Vogue pose' - she’d do that in a fire drill.

In the royal box, Beckham sat next to her husband, David (the first man since Alan Whicker to make the double-breasted naval blazer look chic) and Samuel L Jackson, the actor. Both of them seemed to be enjoying the match enormously, along with the rest of the crowd, packed with a Hollywood studio's worth of actors on their day off: Hugh Jackman, Orlando Bloom, Kates Winslet and Beckinsale, and a very bushy Guy Ritchie.

Cheering, groaning, gasping and cheering along with them were Bear Grylls, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and an entire Bucklebury of Middletons, including Pippa, who had her head in her hands, unable to watch the drama at some points.

But Mrs Beckham, who has made a habit of rarely smiling in public, remained imperiously unmoved throughout.

Though her husband grinned and nodded throughout, Mrs Beckham remained dour-faced

James says it is unnatural not to crack a smile and Beckham will have had to have trained herself to maintain such a sour look. “You would pretty much have to teach yourself not to smile. It’s very unusual.”

Beckham herself is aware that it can sometimes come across as odd, but last year she claimed she’d look “daft” if she smiled the whole time.

"When you're in a position to be paparazzi-ed just walking down the street, you'd look a little daft if you were smiling all the time," she told The New York Times T Magazine. "[But] I smile in family photos."

James believes her lack of smiling is a sign that she has never been able to shake off a childhood lack of confidence. Early footage of the Spice Girls, when they auditioned, show Beckham to be endlessly “self-touching” -- particularly touching her face - which body language experts believe are signs of acute self-consciousness.

“We lug around baggage from childhood and teenage years. Even though you can learn a veneer of confidence, all the old baggage is there. We are on the wrong side of our eyeballs; we tend to see the world through the body we grew up with, rather than how we know we now look,” says James.

“She may be super famous, married to one of the most gorgeous men in the world and have fabulous kids, but she will be comparing herself all the time to other women she meets.”

Some have speculated that Beckham has crooked teeth and her almost permanent pout is an attempt to hide these.

“But that’s the strange thing: she genuinely looks lovely when she smiles. Her teeth are very nice. When she is being self-conscious, she tends to smile with her teeth clenched, which can look like a snarl. But you occasionally catch her smiling naturally, especially with her kids, and it’s a lovely sweet smile.”

The joy of great sport, as a spectator, is that - famous or not - you can become swept up in the collective emotions of the crowd. As James says: “To sit there and not join in with that, requires unbelievable levels of willpower.”

Almost as much as that shown by Djokovic to hold on to beat his great rival.

Online Editors

Also in this section