Did COVID Masking Screw-Up Your Smile?

Many people in Japan say that wearing a mask for three years of the COVID pandemic has made it difficult for them to crack a smile — so they’re paying for smile lessons. There are actually “smile educators” offering classes on how to smile without looking awkward. Students are taught how to stretch and flex various parts of their faces and even their neck muscles to smile properly and convey happiness, because they’ve forgotten how. Keiko Kawano, a smile educator who has so far taught 4,000 people how to smile, says, “A smile is only a smile if it’s conveyed. Even if you’re thinking about smiling or that you’re happy, if you have no expression, it won’t reach the audience.” Believe it or not, smile classes have been a thing in Japan for decades, but only recently became popular when people stopped wearing masks.