We can’t pass up the opportunity for an excellent vision based pun, it being Valentines Day. Especially as we spent yesterday in the shop watching all the gents coming out the barber shop with their fresh trims ready to woo their ladies with a look of love.
Fear not, we’re not about to unleash our inner ABC or Dusty Springfield on you, we thought we’d explain a little bit about where the concept of the ‘look of love’ comes from.
The look of love originates from people observing that when people were attracted to each other, their pupils dilated – giving that wide-eyed look. Our pupils naturally dilate throughout the day to adjust to the level of light and to help us focus. You might also have drops put into your eyes to force them to dilate for an eye examination. The process is called mydriasis – top optical fact.
The iris muscles are responsible for dilating the pupils are controlled by what’s called the autonomic nervous system – it’s what makes you respond in certain ways to different events. The majority of the work this system does happens without you knowning it and is a major factor in our flight/fight/freeze responses as well as those butterflies in your tummy when you’re physically attracted to someone. Studies have actually shown that even just looking a pictures of someone that at person finds attractive can cause pupils to dilate.
In the 16th Century, women used to create drops from Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladona) and put them in their eyes to dilate their pupils – in the hope of making themselves look more alluring. It’s thought that belladonna part of the botanical name comes from these beautiful Italian women using the drops to make their pupils larger. As with all things though, what you put in your body tends to have consequences. In this case it was increased heart rate, blurred vision, blindness and often death. Awkward.
So, the look of love is real. It’s amazing what our bodies can do. If you’re doing the whole Valentine thing, enjoy. If you’re not, enjoy the extreme bonkersness of the ABC video…