The Mighty Mouth
You can understand how your mouth plays an important role in general communication, but why is it so important in the study of body language? Like the eyes, people tend to focus on the mouth during face-to-face conversation. The lips also play into romantic fantasies, and have been the focus of attention for many years. Back in the silent-film era, for example, when body language was almost a separate character in each movie, Clara Bow was one of the most famous actresses in the world due in large part to her physical qualities, most notably her lips.
Bow lips have a small dip in the top lip, almost forming a “V” in the middle of the lip. Despite the likeness of the names, “bow lips” weren’t named for Clara Bow’s famous mouth. Rather, the name refers to Cupid’s bow.
Because the mouth is the focal point for chitchat and romantic interludes, men and women alike strive to achieve near perfection in their oral cavities. Americans, in particular, spend millions of dollars each year on whitening their teeth, freshening their breath, and plumping their lips with artificial fillers.
Do any of these things really work in terms of nonverbal communication, or are the natural gestures of the mouth what really count? It’s probably safe to say that anything that makes your mouth look clean and fresh is worthwhile. There’s a fine line, however, between making your mouth look its best and making it look like a plastic factory. In fact, when you start putting too much work into your mouth—when you drastically change your teeth and/or your lips, for example, with dental implants or injections—your mouth will move differently, thus affecting the way the nonverbal messages of your mouth are perceived, for better or for worse. Everyone has seen unfortunate celebrities who have puffed their lips up to super-size and can barely move their mouths when they speak, for example.
A completely different mouth isn’t necessarily a negative thing—maybe you want to change the way your mouth behaves—but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re thinking about having work done on this area.