The other week I experienced a moment so bizarre, and frankly pretty upsetting, it had me questioning whether I was the only one going through this.
Lets set the scene
I had just gotten in the house from a particularly tough day at work. I’d arrived late in the morning, missed an important meeting and was thusly punished with a day of copy making and laminating.
It was about 10 seconds after I’d gotten in that there was a harsh knock at the door; thinking it was our friendly neighbour with an undelivered parcel I brightly opened the door, only to be welcomed by a not so friendly face. It was the women from the house right at the end of our crumbly cul de sack, who I had talked to 0 times before, and glanced at maybe 2 times in my entire life. The conversation went as follows:
Woman: “Hello luv, I was just wondering, do you have a problem with me?”
Me: “Hello..um, no?” (who the hell is this woman)
Woman: “It’s just every time you look at me you give me the nastiest looks, so if you have a problem with me, I’d rather you just say it to my face”. (This was said at least 5 times in the 2 minute ordeal)
Me: “Oh my gosh no, I definitely don’t”
Woman: “REALLY? Cos you always look at me like you’ve got a problem with me”
Me: (Oh my God, I’m actually going to have to say this aren’t I) “I’m sorry, I really don’t. This is literally just how my face looks, it’s called a resting bitch face”
For those unaccustomed, Resting Bitch Face (also known as Chronically Serious Looking), is a person, usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless, without meaning to. (Urban Dictionary)
From there, the conversation radically deescalated, because I had to explain to this woman that I don’t look happy all the time, and that’s just how my face is. Now this lady in particular has multiple other issues going on in her life which maybe makes her a little on the irrational side, but this isn’t the first and won’t be the last incident of this happening.
I’ve had men tell me to “cheer up”, “gimme a smile” or the classic “smile, it might never happen!” – it already has, you’re talking to me. Along with this, I’ve had girls say to me they thought I was “scary”, “stuck up” or just a standard bitch because I don’t walk around with a smile plastered on my face.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who finds this both a bit upsetting and infuriating? Why on earth would you think I’m a scary person, just because I don’t look like a Disney princess walking around town. I don’t hate you, or think I’m better than you, I don’t even know you.
Am I the only one that thinks it says more about other people if they make a snap judgement on your entire personality, for the way you look when you’re not interacting with people. Even my own boyfriend has told me to uncross my arms when I’m on the sofa because it makes me look grumpy. Nope, I was just comfortable, but now I’m pissed off and comfortable.
Light research will lead you to articles offering “minor surgical treatments” to give you that beaming glow everybody else wants you to have. Too drastic? There’s also face yoga for the alternative, less evasive but still a bit silly approach. Or for those who are happy just the way there are, there’s compelling evidence that those with a case of RBF may turn out to be better communicators, as we desperately try to convince the world we do want to talk to them, regardless of what our eyebrows tell you.
I get that in social situations you are going to benefit from having open and welcoming body language, preferably not with a scowl creasing up your forehead. But when I’m walking down the street, on public transport, sat at home, hell, even in the queue for the bar, you’ve got one hell of a purposeful bitch face coming your way if you’re going to tell me “smile, you look miserable” (yes, that’s happened too).