A court in Paris is set to make a ruling that would grant French citizens permission to smile in their passport photos.
A senior civil servant started a legal proceeding to challenge authorities after his initial passport application was denied for smiling. He is making a stand “to give the depressed nation a morale boost,” according to the Telegraph.
In a letter to the court released to the AFP news agency, the man wrote: “Is it responsible for the authorities to reproach the French for smiling in a depressed France?”
The country is regularly ranked the most pessimistic nation on Earth, but the complainant and his lawyer are determined to change public perceptions.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, lost his original court case as it was deemed he was grinning. The rules currently stipulate a person must have a neutral expression and a closed mouth for a passport photo.
Romain Boulet, the man’s lawyer, responded by saying it was easy to “smile with one’s mouth shut while keeping a neutral expression,” citing the Mona Lisa as an example.
His client simply had an “undertaker’s smile”, where the lips are only slightly upturned, he insisted.
A spokesman for France’s Interior Ministry hit back, maintaining the civil servant “doesn’t have a neutral expression because he’s unquestionably smiling”. It is now up to the Paris Court of Appeals to decide whether the corners of people’s mouths can be raised slightly.
Mr Boulet thinks the verdict could change how people around the world think about France. “If we win, the French will give their country a pleasant face,” he said.