When I was in 5th grade, I was head-over-heels for a boy named Jeremy. I’d like to say that I liked him so much because he’d defended me from bullies, or something noble like that… but the truth is that it was all because of his dimples. Who here hasn’t swooned over a charming set of dimples?
Mothers coo over their baby’s dimples, and hope that they’ll stay for good. However, most babies will grow out of their dimples as the baby fat recedes. Perhaps this is why dimples are a subconscious attribute of youth and charm to most people; we relate them to the innocence that we lost when we left childhood behind.
Is It a Genetic Defect?
A lot of clinical literature will refer to dimples as a genetic defect (albeit a very desirable one.) While the presence of dimples will rely on a variety of factors, they’re usually ultimately determined by genetics. Adults with dimples have an abnormally shaped zygomaticus major, which is a muscle on the cheek. With dimple genes, one will have a shorter-than-usual zygomaticus major, causing it to pull differently on the tissues of the cheek when you smile.
Dimples are a dominant genetic trait, which means that if a child inherits the dimple trait from just one parent, it will manifest itself. But then… why is it that a parent with dimples doesn’t always have a child with dimples too? Well, as cut-and-dry as High School Bio made it seem, genetic traits are actually very complex in people, especially when it comes to appearance. Many other factors can interact, causing someone to have dimples or not. In fact, some scientists say that dimples are actually an irregular dominant trait, which can vary its manifestation greatly.
Fat and Dimples
While dimples and cellulite are two different things, they do both relate to how your body stores fat. When larger amounts of fat are stored, it stretches and strains the connective tissue under the skin, which is why it can appear as bumps and dimples on the skin. That’s why many coolsculpting fat-loss techniques look to a study done years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine. In this study, it was hypothesized that children who sucked popsicles might be more likely to develop dimples because of a method called cryolipolysis. This process says that fat tissues can be killed with exposure to concentrated freezing temperatures, without hurting the skin. It seems that fat reacts more quickly to the freezing temperatures than other, more vital tissues. In children eating popsicles, this means that the fat on their childish cheeks was being rearranged in unique ways, which made dimples more likely.
This theory has given rise to a variety of coolsculpting methods, which claim to contour your body in a gentle, non-invasive way. Often, it’s advertised as an alternative to liposuction for patients who only have a few pounds that they want to lift.
Can You Force Dimples?
So, if kids could form dimples just by eating popsicles, it should be easy to get your own dimples using a box of rocket pops, right? Well, that’s not usually the case. As adults, we simply don’t have the same levels of fat that are stored on our cheeks. Think about children, and the reason you love to pinch their cheeks.
In 1936, a peculiar invention called the “dimple machine” came out in the United States. This machine capitalized on the popular idea that you could manufacture dimples simply by putting pressure to the point in question regularly. This machine featured a headdress for you to wear during your off-hours that put pressure on the points in question. However, the invention was a misguided attempt. Pressure alone will not create dimples.
Some people actually seek out cosmetic surgery that creates custom-made dimples, or a “dimpleplasty.” This procedure pins the skin of the cheek to underlying tissues. Although the sutures dissolve, a scar is left on the face that mimics natural dimples. Unfortunately, this procedure is, as yet, largely untested, and it’s hard to tell how the effect will evolve as the skin ages and moves differently.
It’s no surprise that in our youth-obsessed society, we’re preoccupied with replicating the marks of youth. After all, the percentage of celebrities with dimples far outweighs the percentage of dimples in the general populace, and who doesn’t want to look a little more like Miranda Kerr? However, another theory about the appeal of dimples states that their value might be in social evolution. Dimples deepen with a smile, helping us to gauge at a glance someone’s sincerity and joy. Perhaps, then, our approach should not be to replicate outward signs, but rather to go to the source: the thing that’s really so appealing to us is a genuine smile! If you have dimples, flaunt them. But if not, consider the marks of your true joy, and share them with the world whenever possible!
Guest post by Christine Hill