Teach me how to wink
November 7, 2008 10:50 PM   Subscribe

Teach me how to wink!

Not like winking etiquette, just the mechanics. I simply can't do it! The closest I can get is mashing one side of my face and even then both of my eyes are practically closed.
posted by alitorbati to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's like curling your tongue - if you can't do it, you can't do it.

I mean, you can... I guess, exercise or practice... but in my experience, if a wink doesn't come naturally, you're probably hopeless.

Which isn't a bad thing - speaking as a "winker" winking is definitely on the out. If you wink at a guy he thinks you're gay, if you wink at a woman she thinks you're harassing her. I'm pretty much just stuck winking at women I'm flirting with...
posted by wfrgms at 11:02 PM on November 7, 2008

Well then, you can't wink. No biggie. I can't roll my tongue into a tube.
posted by Aquaman at 11:02 PM on November 7, 2008

D'oh! Beaten by seconds.
posted by Aquaman at 11:03 PM on November 7, 2008

I can wink with my right eye but not my left. It might seem that since I "know" how to do it on one side I should be able to teach myself how to do it on the other side, but ... no, it drives me crazy to try. It might just not be in your genetics. (Still: Maybe try closing your eyes tight and see if you can open just one of them, and work backward from there; you may be a one-sider like me, and this could help determine your stronger eyelid.)
posted by lisa g at 11:13 PM on November 7, 2008

One thing to remember about how the brain works, often times the nerves that control things that usually happen at the same time (like blinking) are actually wired together. Your brain sends a "blink" signal and both eyes close.

So in order to wink, you might have to send two signals, one to blink, and another to keep your other eye open.

Can you open just one eye at a time? Try closing your eyes and opening just one of them. Can you do it?
posted by delmoi at 11:18 PM on November 7, 2008

I bet you can look through a cardboard tube with one eye while closing the other. Now take away the tube.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:38 PM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

You'll have to sit in front of a mirror and practice it for sure. I remember doing the same thing when I found out my Grandpa could wiggle his ears. I sat in front of a mirror for days and days trying to find just the right muscles to do it. Eventually I did.

I also did the same thing to learn how to do that pec bounce thing bodybuilders do. That took months and months (to build them up enough so I could notice).
posted by sanka at 11:40 PM on November 7, 2008

I once worked with an engineer who could do the perfect one-eyebrow raise.

You'd be gibbering some kind of incoherent crap at him, his bullshit detector would go off, and one eyebrow would go up just a bit. And the more bullshit you spouted, the higher it would go. It happened completely independently of everything else he was doing with his face - smiling, frowning, blinking, didn't matter - you knew when this guy thought you were shitting him because that left eyebrow just kept on going up and up until it practically disappeared in his hairline.

I have been in awe of this ability ever since, but no matter how many hours I spend in front of the mirror trying to make my own eyebrow do anything even vaguely similar, it just doesn't happen.

So I have no solution for you, only empathy.
posted by flabdablet at 3:09 AM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

as others have mentioned, winking is something that - like rolling your tongue, wiggling your ears, flaring your nostrils, raising one eyebrow - you just have to be wired for.

Nevertheless, I would be interested to hear the results of weapons-grade pandemonium's suggestion.
posted by namewithoutwords at 3:18 AM on November 8, 2008

Take a look at former threads on:
Raising one eyebrow


Wiggling your ears

Also, take a look at youtube, via searches such as 'how to wink' and see how bad many people are at winking! See? You can lower your expectations a little!

I'd suggest practicing by gently holding the eyebrow of they eye you are *not* winking, and trying to get as little scrunch as possible while closing the other eye - you do *not* need to aim to not close the other eye at the moment, you just want to work on scrunching it closed as little as possible. Do this in front of a mirror.
At first, emphasise the eye that you *are* trying to close. Just scrunch up that side of the face. If it helps, you don't actually have to entirely close that eye! You just want to get the facial effect of winking. Try really exaggerated at first, like you're 'faking' a wink, and then just speed it up, so it's only half a second or so. At that speed, most people won't particularly notice whether you've closed one, both, or no eyes. Once you've got the speed, if it still looks too exaggerated, tone it back a bit. As you practice, it'll be easier and easier to wink correctly, and without excessive scrunching, but you don't need to aim for that in the beginning.

If you've searched youtube, you'll see that many of the people 'winking' are doing very scrunchy faces, not just delicately closing one eye. It means you don't have to aim too high at first.

Good luck!
posted by Elysum at 3:20 AM on November 8, 2008

And, from former posts on eyebrow raising etc -
I'd have to disagree with former posters.
It's probably a combination nature/nurture as to ease, but I think it's primarily something you just have to learn & practice to get conscious control over.

Ie it's not like the muscles in one eye are linked to the other eye - you just have to get used to using them separately.
Watch small children figuring out stuff like independent finger motion, they don't have it at first, and usually just do the thumb-finger pincers motions to initially pick things up etc.

And, huh, it looks like even the tongue rolling thing might not be genetic. http://www.discovery.com/area/skinnyon/skinnyon970226/skinny1.html

I actually thought that might be inheritable, as there could be some weird variation in tongue design between humans, leading to a weak muscle or tendon for achieving the tongue rolling mechanic.
posted by Elysum at 3:33 AM on November 8, 2008

Yes, this can be easily done, but I advise you don't do it, for the reason I'll explain below.

I can still remember where and when I decided to learn to wink. I was about six years old, or maybe a little younger, walking along with my mother at the *** **** Mall in ***, when an old man winked at me. Not a dirty old man at all, just a friendly old codger.

I tried to wink back, but couldn't, and resolved to learn to do it. I got quite good, and soon after and to this day I can wink either eye, or rapidly alternate closed eyes, or even close either eye for minutes at a time. I frequently do the last this when reading books, as alternatively resting one eye allows me to read for hours at a time.

The method is simple, simple enough for a six year old to discover: using a finger, hold one eyelid closed, and then open and close the other eye several times. Then hold the other eye closed, and repeat. Do this several times daily for 10 minutes at a time, and in a few weeks you too will be able to wink at will.

In fact what I did at six was bit more than this; rather than just holding one eye closed, I grasped the eyelid by the eye-lashes and pulled down. While I can't be sure, I suspect this had a deleterious effect, viz, I have low-hanging eyelids, giving the impression that I am perpetually half-asleep or bored or uninterested in whomever I'm talking to. My eyelids actually bisect my pupils unless I make a conscious effort to open my eyes wide, and I can only maintain this wide-eyed posture for a few minutes (and as my vision is habituated to half-obscured pupils, I can't see as well when I do strain to open my eyes wide).

So my advice is that while you can learn to wink, the risk of also causing unattractively heavy eyelids makes it not worth doing.
posted by orthogonality at 4:24 AM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's basically like shutting your eyes, except you're only shutting one. I used to be only able to do one side but now I can do either. My right is not as smooth as my left.

Try shutting your eyes, and then holding one closed with your hand and open the other.
posted by sully75 at 5:38 AM on November 8, 2008

Just a word of warning: I'm male and have a male friend who does this little wink think to let you know he's following the conversation. I was walking down the street thinking about this, and I started practicing winking. Some random guy came over and grabbed my shirt and said he was going to kick my ass for coming on to him.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:00 AM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

I used to not be able to wink AT ALL and it was comically bad. What I was doing (which I thought was the way to wink when I was younger) was closing one eye, then quickly closing the other while opening the first -- except I was not so quick on this, which is where the comical part comes in. I've since been able to speed this up and it's much less noticeable, so I wink at everyone now. (But my dad still makes fun of me because he can see the first eye blink before the actual wink!)
posted by pised at 8:22 AM on November 8, 2008

Practice in front of a mirror. I taught myself to raise both eyebrows sequentially and then flare my nostrils by training myself in the mirror (I was a bored child). You need to find the correct muscle or group of muscles to control that part of your face, and it really helps to have the automatic feedback from a mirror. It's like anything else- juggling, skating, bike riding, martial arts- things that requires muscle memory - train the muscle to do what you want it to do and you won't need to think about it anymore.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:51 AM on November 8, 2008

I learned to raise either of my eyebrows and wink by practicing in a mirror. It takes awhile, but is totally doable if you are patient.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:05 PM on November 8, 2008

I bet you can look through a cardboard tube with one eye while closing the other. Now take away the tube.

Doubt it. I can only close my left eye independently, and no amount of cardboard tube trickery can help.
posted by theyexpectresults at 12:08 AM on November 9, 2008

Try saying 'maverick' at the same time.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:41 AM on November 10, 2008

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