Why Am I So Into Faces?

Now there's a title that makes me sound like I'm one bad customer service experience away from building an evil lair. 

But seriously - why am I so into faces (in prints)?  I'm one dress, one shirt, one tshirt, one brooch, one pair of socks and one pair of earrings deep, with no end in sight.  It all started with a Kowtow dress (this exact one), which as well as starting a love affair with Kowtow that has been awesome for my wardrobe but terrible for both my wallet and my sex appeal, also started a love affair with faces. 

Then Kate Sylvester did her Muse collection and I bought the face pin (this one), and suddenly fashion land caught up with itself and there were faces everywhere.  Initially it was all Picasso and Matisse inspired, but the designs did eventually diverge.  And thus I find myself here, wearing this shirt from Chilli here in Wellington (it's on Cuba Mall).

IMG_9174.JPG

I was pretty sure I wasn't on the slippery slope to crazy here, so I did some quick research (okay, I Googled "why do humans like looking at faces").  Y'all know what time it is *puts on lab coat* - it's science time. 

Apparently, we like looking at faces so much that even third trimester foetuses - which to recap, have never seen a face - are "more likely to move their heads to track facelike configurations of light projected into the womb than nonfacelike shapes" (source).  Putting aside how rude it is to disrupt those babies' quiet time that they were enjoying, jeez, that's pretty amazing. 

IMG_9187.JPG

OR IS IT?  Babies need to understand faces really quickly in order to survive.  A coffee table isn't going to respond to you being deliberately cute, now is it?  In slightly horrifying science, it turns out that even two month old babies will spend more time looking at attractive faces when these are shown pair with faces judged by adults to be unattractive (source).  At this point I stopped Googling "babies faces learning" and moved on.  I don't need to feel judged by babies.  I thought babies were the only humans I could definitely win over with personality and charm. 

IMG_9186.JPG

Humans also have a propensity for seeing faces in things that do not have faces.  We see Jesus' face in our toast, we think cars have faces (and many people have become rich from making movies for children basically exploiting that premise) and if I gave you two circles and a semi-circle right now, you'd probably make either a smiley face or a sad face (or a misshapen set of men's genitals, depending on whether or not you are a 14 year old boy).  

This extremely interesting and not at all painfully dry paper I found proposes that "the adult brain is equipped with a neural circuitry specialized for preferentially processing faces".  So, having devoted three paragraphs to this point - it turns out it's hardwired into my brain, along with my belief there is only one right way to fold a towel and the recipe for my grandmother's excellent chicken and vegetable soup. 

IMG_9172.JPG

I was attracted to this particular shirt because of the particular faces (especially the two at the front smoking cigarettes with a surly expression) and because I will buy any button-down shirt that (a) doesn't gape and (b) has sleeves that are the right length for my wee arms.  I knotted it with these pants to exaggerate the nipped in waist of the pants and the pleat front of the legs even further - for work, it'll just get tucked in since "ready for a hoe down" is not a look I choose to rock in the office.  Also I don't want to have to tell any of my team that crop tops are not appropriate, so...role modelling. 

This shirt is available in three other colours at Chilli, for my local ladies.  For those further afield, take a quick look at Etsy for some other face options here, here and here

IMG_9191.JPG