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What The Candidates' Faces Reveal

11/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Mar 25, 2015

The Governor of Alaska has "bossy woman cheeks." The message of her "politician's jaw?" My way or the highway!

According to the ancient Chinese art of face reading, our faces contain maps of our personality traits. It may sound like a parlor game, but face reading is considered a branch of Chinese medicine that began about 3,000 years ago. As their medicine developed, Chinese doctors came to see how the health of every organ in the body is reflected in a certain facial feature. Even today, some doctors in China today can diagnose illness simply by looking at the face.

From a pragmatic point of view, wouldn't it be great if we could look at someone right away and say, "Oh, he's got the 'angry eye?' Or she's got the 'slippery lip?'"

We might not always heed the signals to beware, but at least we could identify them. At least, that's the theory. To a skilled observer, it is more important to read a face than to listen to words coming out of someone's mouth. "Our faces give messages that we read unconsciously. If our words match our facial expressions, people believe we are sincere," says Jean Haner, author of The Wisdom of Your Face.

Since our faces express our respective inner blueprints, I asked Jean Haner and my colleague Janice Pastorek for their interpretations of what the candidates' faces reveal. "65% of what we communicate is symbolic. Certain facial characteristics carry emotional messages," says Pastorek.

In Chinese face reading, the jaw is compared to the roots of a tree. A strong jaw indicates someone who cannot be blown over. According to Haner, Governor Sarah Palin has a "politician's jaw." While this is indicative of her firm values, she says, "A very strong jaw like Governor Palin's indicates that she can be rigid or judgmental." When emphasizing her point of view, the Governor often extends her lower jaw slightly, a trait that Tina Fey has modeled superbly. This conveys her 'pit bull' tenacity.

And what about those eyeglasses? According to Haner, if Sarah Palin's eyeglasses did not partially mask the eyebrows, softening her face, those eyebrows could make her look intimidating. Adds Haner, "The shape of her face indicates that she is very loyal to her family and friends; however, she appeals to people who share her judgments."

Senator Joe Biden's face has "the face of a diplomat." His squared-off chin denotes his practical nature. The small lines around his eyes are called "joy lines" which indicate an open heart. (Not crow's feet. Joy lines. I intend to remember that the next time I look in the mirror.)

To Haner, his eyes appear slightly narrowed. This means that Senator Biden is more private than you might think." She adds, "You don't want a politician's eyes to be too wide open. Wide open eyes indicate sensitivity." Janice Pastorek agrees. She says, "Eyes wide open indicate someone who empathically absorbs other people's emotions."

Pastorek looks for where an individual is holding tension in the face. "I go with a simple metaphoric association. I superimpose the image of the entire body over the face." For example, the forehead tells her how someone thinks. The cheekbones represent shoulders. The lips represent the sexual regions and the chin and jaw represent the legs and feet.

Senator Biden's face holds stress in a manner that is similar to Senator Barack Obama. They both have prominent foreheads. Pastorek notes, "The forehead wants us to know they are big thinkers." When the brows come down slightly over the eyes, that's a sign of someone who is impacted by others' feelings. Both men share that trait. The corners of Biden's mouth turn down slightly. According to Pastorek, "it shows he struggles a bit with his future."

Both candidates have more delicate cheekbones than their wives. Cheekbones represent shoulders. "Michelle Obama's and Jill Biden's cheekbones say, 'I can carry a lot on my shoulders.'" The thinness of Obama's cheeks shows that he needs more fun in his everyday life. He holds a lot of tension in his neck, indicating that he is holding back from showing his deeper emotions.

John McCain's face is as complex as his history. It is a map of resilience and the drive to keep moving forward. Haner and Pastorek agree that the shape of his forehead shows that he thinks a lot but does not always actualize what he's thinking about. For someone who has been through as much as McCain has, his eyes remain very open.

His cheeks say that he does not think he is always appreciated. His mouth indicates he thinks more about what could go wrong than what could go right. Decision-making can be a struggle between his head and his heart.

For more information about the art of face reading, I recommend: The Wisdom Of Your Face by Jean Haner, The Face Reader by Patrician McCarthy, and Janice Pastorek, of Home Skin Labs.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I am a consultant to Coty's Home Skin Labs, launching on the Home Shopping Network next month.)

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