The Art of Smizing

Read time: 2.5 minutes

Have you ever heard of “smizing”? If not, it might be something to add to your social repertoire in this mask-wearing era! 

Supermodel Tyra Banks coined the term “smizing,” which, as defined by the Oxford Languages Dictionary, is “a playful or alluring expression of the eyes.” Originally a posing technique Banks taught to hundreds of models, smizing has gained new relevance during the pandemic as a way to “smile” when your mouth is covered. As Banks said last year on The Drew Barrymore Show, “Now, a smize doesn’t just mean you’re fierce. A smize today means ‘thank you,’ or a smize means, ‘you go first,’ or a smize means, ‘I’m going to be here for you.’”  

Here are Banks’ tips to achieve a winning smize:  

  • Think of something that delights you. Let your eyes communicate that happiness.  
  • Engage the muscles around your eyes even more than you engage the muscles around your mouth. 
  • Direct your energy and concentration to the upper half of your face. Envision positivity beaming out of your eyes. 

If that seems like something you need to practice for a while, here are other ways to communicate friendliness and respect while wearing a mask: Image of Korean finger hearts on a beach. The thumb and index finger are crossed to form a heart.

  • Make eye contact. One way to make eye contact friendly is to slightly tilt your head to one side and raise your eyebrows slightly, which gives you an “open” expression. Think of a wide-eyed baby. That’s the expression you’re going for. 
  • Borrow from Japanese business culture and try an intentional head nod (make eye contact, nod while letting your eyes close, hold the nod for a half-second before raising your head and opening your eyes) or even a slight, respectful bow. 
  • Use hand gestures: wave, give a thumbs-up, gesture for someone to go ahead of you, etc. Or, throw some love around by making a heart shape with both of your hands or by throwing some Korean “finger hearts.”