The Fish Gape Is The New Duck Face Selfie: What People Think Of Both

Team Duck Face vs. Team Fish Gape. Which Instagram trend will reign supreme?

women taking duck face selfies YourTango

If you’ve ever taken a trip down Facebook memory lane (which you have, because Facebook forces it on you with their painful ‘On This Day’ feature), you’ve probably gotten to a point in your photo albums where you’re like,

"What am I wearing? Who let me cut my hair like that? Why am I making that face?"

While the questionable outfits you wore and the severely unflattering haircut you had are worthy of discussion at a later date, what I’m here to talk about today is the duck face selfie.


What is duck face?

You already know: Lips slightly pursed. A cocky little tilt to the head. And, more often than not, a peace sign to top it all off.

Who started the duck face selfie?

While it's unclear who exactly started the duck face selfie (some may point to Zoolander and his iconic "Blue Steel" look), it nonetheless soared to popularity around the MySpace era, when one of the first iterations of the pose was described on Urban Dictionary as the "MySpace Face."

RELATED: 12 Types Of Selfies That Basically Tell The World You're A Narcissist


On the other hand (literally), the optional peace sign was likely adopted from Japanese culture.

“The V-sign was (and still is) often recommended as a technique to make girls’ faces appear smaller and cuter,” Jason Karlin, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo and an expert on Japanese media culture, explained to TIME in 2014.

However, many photos showcase a backward peace sign (that is, palm facing inward), which in some cultures is actually a swear.

As new as they may feel for those of us who remember the days when you’d have to wait to get photos developed before being able to see what you looked like, selfies have gone far past being mainstream and have just become expected.


In 2010, Apple added the front-facing (AKA selfie) camera to its iPhones. Oxford Dictionary named ‘selfie’ its 2013 word of the year. There’s now even a museum dedicated to the “art of the selfie.”

But, like any art, the road to the selfie in its current (and most beautiful) form was long and involved a lot of this:

duck face selfiePhoto: courtesy of the author


The face is so pervasive that researchers have actually done studies to figure out what the “duck face” really means.

And while that may seem a little extravagant when there are arguably far more important things to worry about in the world, the truth is the popularity of this particular facial expression (along with the peace sign that often accompanies it) is important.

What people think when you post a duck face selfie (and why do people do it?)

Of course, I don’t have a fancy research team to help me prove any type of hypothesis, but I do have unadulterated access to all of my friends’ most embarrassing Facebook photos as well as their insight into the meaning behind the duck face selfie.

duck face selfiePhoto: courtesy of the author


That’s me in the far-too-bright hoodie. I’ve never been a fan of having my photo taken. In fact, I’m pretty sure there is a portion of my life where I refused to be in any photos at all. For whatever reason, I’m deeply uncomfortable in front of the camera.

This face was a way for me to pose without posing — my “IDGAF” face, one that was silly so I didn’t have to worry about looking “good.”

As for my friend in the gray hoodie, she says: "I feel like that was the age where you start to realize, sexually, the differences between girls and guys. You start realizing boys are cute. So the face is an 'I’m gonna be feeling myself, I’m gonna be flirting.' People are trying to look sexualized."

duck face selfiePhoto: Amanda Deptula


"This is my nightmare."

duck face selfiePhoto: Aria Gmitter

"The face means to me 'I'm too cool to care.' I did it because I was taking a photo that I didn't really feel like taking and at the time, I wasn't really feeling the angle.

"Looking back now, I think this was a confident pose and I feel pretty good about the moment, although when I shared it I got a lot of criticism for having my peace sign in the wrong direction. I had no idea there was a right direction... but like the face in the photo says, whatevs."


duck face selfiePhoto: Maryn Liles

"Because literally… what else are you supposed to do with your face?! Posing for pics is undeniably awkward, so making this face is better than straight-up cheesin', right? Plus, it kinda looks like a nonchalant kiss from the right angle (maybe?).

"Looking back: Let's just say I definitely wouldn't do it again."


duck face selfiePhoto: Shannon Ullman

RELATED: Is Taking Selfies Healthy for Your Mental Health & Self Esteem?

"To me, the face is just something fun! It shows that I was in a playful mood and having fun with the other person in the photo.

"However, I think the main purpose of it was to look cute. It allowed me to hide my smile (I had braces for a large majority of my teens/young adulthood). Also, it made my lips look plumper, my eyelashes longer, and my jaw bone more defined. That's what I thought back then anyway.


"Looking back on it, I'm only slightly embarrassed. I think that the face has many versions and the one in this photo isn't so bad. I still think that it's kinda cute. And, I looked way cooler (and probably was way cooler) back then than I ever would now making that face."

No matter what kind of background you came from or how old you were when you started taking selfies, the duck face selfie seems to be a right of passage — and something so common can’t be ignored.

Nowadays, however, the duck face selfie has evolved.

Is the duck face selfie officially over?

The duck face isn't totally dead, of course (we will never let it die!), but has since been replaced with the face of another water-loving animal: the fish.


The fish gape is the new duck face selfie.

Around 2015, reports began surfacing of a "new selfie face" making waves across Instagram feeds called the fish gape.

What is the fish gape selfie?

Featuring slightly-parted lips and a smize, this new facial expression in photos became known as the fish gape selfie. 

Urban Dictionary's top definition says it "can often be misconstrued as a female with a sinus infection, unable to breathe through her nose and smile properly in a photograph," but don't knock the pose until you try it.

RELATED: How To Take A Good Selfie: 8 Tips To Help You Look Your Best In Pictures


How do you do the fish gape?

If you're sitting there now trying to perfect the fish gape pose for your next selfie, trying saying "apple" before you take the photo.

No, seriously — it works! You'll get that slightly toothy pout every time.


NO HOLD UP. This worked, I looked like a model-ish

original sound - Stef | makeup

What do people think of fish gape selfies?

Overall, the general Internet consensus is that the fish gape is a way more flattering pose than a duck face. Just take a look at the thirsty replies to this thread of Zayn Malik using the expression in photos:


Zayn Malik and his fish gape pose: a thread

— haseenajnabi (@haseenajnabi) August 13, 2020

If celebs like Zendaya and Selena Gomez are doing it, you can trust that it's cool enough for your Instagram.


The pose makes your lips and eyes appear bigger, and we all know big eyes add a cuteness factor to animals, people, and inanimate objects alike.

RELATED: The Odd Effect Selfies Have On Your Chances Of Falling In Love

Micki Spollen is a YourTango editor, writer, and traveler. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her travels on her website.