Open Wide

Paleo Retiree writes:


Why are so many young women these days going around with their mouths wide open in an expression that seems to be half shock-of-amazement, half giant-smile? I have few memories of this particular expression playing much of a role in the culture in the 1990s, and none whatsoever of girls and young women putting it on in the far-distant days of my youth. Where does it come from? And why has it managed to establish itself as a standard part of today’s stock of poses and expressions?

There’s a little nudity in this posting. It’s of a non-grotty sort, but even so: Click on “Continue Reading” only if you’re someplace where your boss ain’t.

Performers are doing it:

performer_mouth_wide_open01 performer_open_mouth_woman12 performer_open-mouthed_women500

Ads are celebrating it:

ad_mouth_wide_open001 ad_mouth_wide_open10 ad_open_mouthed_woman500

Youngsters sharing selfies can’t resist trying it on:

selfie_mouth_wide_open30 selfie_mouth_wide_open400

That last pic made me wonder if the expression might have something to do with the kind of giddiness many women seem to feel as they walk into a party, or if and when they strip off in public. A minute with Google Image Search turned up a lot of examples:

naked_mouth_open030 naked_mouth_wide_open20 party_mouth_wide_open800

Another hunch I played with was whether the expression might have something to do with the classic “cum in my mouth” pose from porn.

cum_in_my_mouth01 cum_in_my_mouth02

But no, I don’t think that’s quite right. The new open-mouthed pose doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with a woman’s eagerness to fulfill herself by pleasing her lord and master — heaven forbid! Instead, it seems to have to do with a nearly out-of-control, exuberant pleasure in self.

Hmm, pleasure in self … Women beaming with high-on-mood-drugs, hyper-assertive self-amazedness … A general aura of “I’m feeling grrrrrrreat about myself!!!!” … Could it be? My mind raced to what was now occurring to me as a likely source:


Of course, I have no idea if “Sex and the City” is really the ultimate origin of this facial expression, but maybe the show played some role in establishing it as an acceptable and fun way for young women to show off. After all, “SATC” — love it or hate it — has proven been a major culture-shaper in a lot of ways.

Can anyone trace this expression back further than “SATC”? Or to something different entirely? Are our younger visitors even aware that women didn’t always pull this face? Especially curious to hear what our frequent visitor Agnostic has to say.


About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
This entry was posted in Performers, Photography, Sex, Trends, Women men and fashion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Open Wide

  1. For the past few years girls have been calling everything “amazing,” perhaps this is the visual analogue.


    • “I’m totally blown away by the amazingness of this moment!!!!” … That seems like a good reading of the expression. What’s with the love of hyper-emphaticness? (Even given that young people love being emphatic, this wide-open mouth seems to represent some new level of it.) And what to make of the popularity of the word “amazing”? Is it really a great era to be a young woman? Or is there, underlying all the self-pleased exuberance, a massive amount of insecurity? Even a metaphysical Large Emptiness?


  2. Here’s the beautiful Jana Defi doing the open mouth thing. Bonus that she’s also on all fours:


  3. You could aptly caption each of those pictures with “are we having fun yet?!?!!!”


  4. peterike says:

    Just a guess, but did this start with gays? They are the core drivers of fashion today, and of course a major force in “Sex and the City.” Was this some kind of “I’m so fabulous!” look that gays adopted which got picked up by women? Or, taking it back a step, a black thing that got picked up by gays and then by women?

    Underlying it might be that most younger women today have pretty perfect teeth due to ubiquitous orthodontics: braces are cool now, not a source of embarrassment, unlike in the past. It goes along with all the teeth whitening products that seem to be promoted everywhere. Why not show off those perfect pearly whites if you got them?

    Also, of course, the across-the-board decline in modest behavior for anybody.


  5. Will S. says:

    I’ve noticed, whenever two Millennial female friends meet each other out somewhere, they make such a fuss, you’d think they hadn’t seen each other in a year. “OMG! How are you! So good to see you!” blah blah blah fishcakes.

    I think they’re all retards, and I can’t stand them.

    So I’m glad they put on this stupid goofy look, because it allows one to dismiss them as the vapid twats they doubtless are, right away, and waste no time on them.


  6. Gavin Bledsoe says:

    Perhaps it’s simply an attempt to control an *orgasm* moment and live in the moment of open mouth. Yet, then you have to think about Miley now…tongue is different than open mouth?


  7. Tarnished says:

    I have never seen this before today, and am now sad that I have…

    They remind me of the “O Rly?” Owl meme that’s been floating around the internet forever and a day. A look of surprised happiness.

    As in, these women are actually surprised and happy that others are paying attention to them, and this combination creates an odd and slightly disturbing “open smile” reminiscent of a python unhinging it’s jaw to swallow the onlooker whole.

    I’d be very careful around such females, especially if it’s near lunchtime.


  8. ironrailsironweights says:

    You forgot to add the “sorry Peter” tag.



  9. Gareth says:

    Our future president does this a lot unlike Putin who can’t even open his mouth.


    • peterike says:

      Oh dear God you’re right. Half the pictures you ever see of Hillary! she’s got the same absurd open-mouthed howl going on. I don’t know if I can mentally survive a Hillary! presidency. Her strident blowhard nature is even more insufferable than Obama’s patronizing smugness.


  10. Toddy Cat says:

    She looks like a velociraptor with lipstick and a bad wig.


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  19. Mack Schuylkill says:

    Maybe it is an expression one gets when considering the receipt of narcissistic supply


  20. dorsey47 says:

    This is a snap-shot of life at the edge of the orgy to come. The women have adopted a look to show they are both for and against the Dionysian appeal made by the media. This is a safe spot for now, but it’s not stable. When presented with the loss of self to a sinful mob, one must choose outrage or joy, only tragedy contains both. I would call them ‘tragic smiles’. A reminder that there is still joy in the dreadful pit. Life is, after all, good.


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