Tess Christian

Tess Christian

A 50-year-old British woman who has not consciously smiled or laughed for about 40 years
Country: Great Britain

Tess Christian: A Woman Who Doesn't Smile for 40 Years

Tess Christian, a 50-year-old British woman, confidently claims that she has purposefully not smiled for a whopping forty years – and managed to avoid the appearance of wrinkles. While champagne flows and laughter fills the air when Tess goes out with her friends to a local restaurant, she remains stone-faced. Not a hint of a smile graces her lips. Christian is not devoid of a sense of humor; she has simply chosen not to laugh or smile for almost four decades. She even refrained from smiling when her daughter was born. Tess firmly believes that keeping a serious expression is the optimal way to maintain her youthful appearance. "I have no wrinkles," says Tess. "Because I have taught myself to control the muscles in my face. Everyone asks if I have had Botox, but there's been nothing of the sort. I know it's all down to the fact I didn't smile or laugh from a very young age. My efforts have paid off – there isn't a single wrinkle on my face." Tess admits, "Yes, I am a vain person. I want to stay young. My strategy is much more natural than Botox and far more effective than any other expensive cosmetic cream or procedure for the face." In fact, Tess is not alone in her quest to suppress facial movements in an attempt to stop wrinkles from forming. Socialite Kim Kardashian, 34, has admitted that she tries not to smile or laugh because "it causes wrinkles." Some experts today are convinced that this strange trick might actually work. However, Tess's story didn't begin with a sudden desire to stay forever young. Her expressionless face was a reaction to her strict upbringing in a Catholic school where she was taught. She explains, "The stern nuns didn't like it when children smiled. I was always told to wipe the smile off my face, so instead, I would smirk." As she grew older, Tess realized that the somber expression suited her. She says, "If I smiled, I would have chubby cheeks and look mentally ill. For inspiration, I turned to old Hollywood icons like Marlene Dietrich. She never smiled, and I loved her smoldering charm." Tess was ecstatic when she gave birth to her daughter and when she got married, but none of that could be seen on her impassive face. Maintaining a pleasant demeanor, however, required tremendous effort. "Whenever something amused me, whenever I felt the urge to laugh (which happened every day), I learned to control the muscles in my face, keeping them still." She met her now ex-husband, photographer Nigel, in a bar in 1990. In March 1991, the couple welcomed their daughter, Stevie. Tess stated, "Nigel never minded my lack of smile because I was always entertaining him. I am the life of the party. Spend a day with me, and you wouldn't even suspect anything." Nigel and Tess got married in February 1993. She recalls, "Of course, the photographer would encourage me to smile in pictures, but I refused. It just wouldn't have been me." By the time she got divorced, when she was in her forties, Tess realized that she stood out from her friends, whose lips were adorned with unsightly wrinkles, while she had none. "It dawned on me that I looked younger because I had never smiled," she said.
Learning to Laugh on the Inside

Tess Christian

Tess mastered the art of laughing on the inside, using sitcoms like "Absolutely Fabulous" for inspiration. But even after years of practice in withholding her emotions, especially in public, it isn't always easy. "My friends nicknamed me the Mona Lisa, after Leonardo da Vinci's painting," Tess said. "Mona Lisa said she was quietly rejoicing – just like me. I just don't show it." London psychologist Amanda Hills claims that a smile is crucial for a person's mental well-being. She says, "When you smile, you release endorphins known as 'happiness hormones.' They make you feel better. But it's not just that. You become happier because, by smiling, you send a signal to the pathways in your brain that you are happy, even if you're not." Hills continues, "Your brain doesn't know if your smile is genuine or fake because it's just a muscle movement. Studies have shown that you can lift your mood by smiling, even if you feel unhappy. That's why some depression treatment techniques involve practicing smiling in front of a mirror." "If you don't smile, the opposite effect will occur," says Amanda. "An expressionless face, devoid of emotions, won't send a signal to your brain that you're happy. A smiling face will attract others, while a sad appearance is likely to repel. A gloomy face certainly increases the risk of making yourself feel unhappy, even if you were perfectly content." Julia Anastasiou, a face yoga specialist, firmly believes that the "physical act of smiling" helps maintain youthfulness. She says, "Keeping your face stone-faced to avoid wrinkles is incorrect, and it doesn't work for everyone. Wrinkles occur due to the lack of tone and elasticity in the facial muscles. Massaging the facial muscles with a smile improves blood circulation and helps maintain the elasticity of the skin's connective tissue." While Tess Christian refuses to smile and laugh, 70-year-old Briton Christina Remnant decided at the tender age of eight never to frown. She recalls, "I vividly remember looking at my grandmother and her group of friends, all around 60 years old. Their foreheads were covered in wrinkles. When they frowned, they looked even more unattractive." Frightened by what she saw, Remnant has "kept her brows from furrowing" ever since, and today she easily passes for someone in their early 50s.

Tess Christian

© BIOGRAPHS