“Are you o.k.???”
“Hard day, huh?”
“You’d be so much prettier if you smiled.”
“Are you mad?”
These, and countless other similar unsolicited comments have come my way since I was old enough to remember them. Life is hard for a girl with “Resting Bitch Face,” a condition characterized by a visage reflecting anger and/or malice when none is actually felt. There has been a lot in the media recently about street harassment and men not telling women to smile because she may suffer from a Bitchy Resting Face (BRF) a.k.a. Resting Bitch Face (RBF.) CNN has even written about it! Apparently, it’s a real phenomenon! This affliction has caused me plenty of distress throughout my life and has impacted me in the following ways:
1.) I couldn’t find or keep a job in the service industry.
I once worked for a small coffee shop and the boss came in one day and said, “You need to smile. You’re scaring my customers away.” He literally believed this to be true and fired me after just a couple of weeks. The truth was, he scared the crap out of me and I couldn’t work in an environment of extreme intimidation. Go figure that I didn’t have a grin plastered on my face every second. I was also fired from Hertz Rent-a-Car for the same reason. What do you expect from a company that had a sociopath for a spokesman? Clearly, they’re not good at reading faces…
2.) My passport and ID photos show me as a pissed-off Russian spy
Very few of us love our driver’s license or passport photos, but I feel that mine are worse than most. With my square face, prominent cheekbones and cold stare, I would make a kick-ass secret agent or James Bond nemesis. Maybe I missed my true calling.
3.) I have had few female friends.
The girlfriends I have had have all been the most wonderful people. These are women who were able to look past my crusty first impression and really get to know me. But for the most part, the women I have met at school or work almost entirely have been turned off by what they thought was my stand-offish personality. Every female friend I have made has told me they thought I was a horrible person in the beginning.
4.) I was bullied
Girls thought I was too stuck up for their friendship. When they felt rebuffed by me, they responded by beating me up or start rumours about me making my teenage life hell. I went to a new school each year, and I was pretty fearful of being received in this way each time. I retreated further and further inward to protect myself. I made this pained face for my class picture in tenth grade to ensure my tough-girl image. I’m not sure the dead eyes snearing smile worked for me; I got beat up anyways. A lot.
5.) Men were always afraid of me and it’s a miracle I’m not still single.
If I had a dollar for every time a guy told me, “Wow, I really thought you were such a bitch when I first met you!” I will never forget one time when I worked at Starbucks. Two guys came in (drunk) and were doing stupid things to try and make me smile. It had been a long night, and I really wasn’t in the mood. One of them was on his knees being an ass. When I refused to smile for these two clowns, one of them suggested that I must seriously be into my job… as a barista. You got it, pal. It has nothing to do with you being an asshole or me just not feeling it. The only logical conclusion is that I am very serious about bagging these beans.
6.) I scare people in public
This one is my favourite, and I would like to share a video by way of explanation. In short, I was mistaken for a bitchy-faced mannequin at Disneyland and scared the living daylight out of one shopper. Sadly, the incident itself wasn’t quite captured on film. The poor girl let out a blood-curdling scream and fell backwards. It caused quite a serious commotion in the store. She looked into my eyes and screamed like Janet Leigh. I felt like Norman Bates. Who needs a knife with a face like this?
But, wait a second… Is it all my fault? Am I to blame for men not liking me, for intimidating womenfolk, for my boss thinking I was no good in a customer-service role, for making everyone think I’m upset about something? Screw that! This is my FACE people! Why don’t you just live with it? I don’t smile because I’m not a fucking lunatic. I smile when I goddamn have a reason to smile. Most of the time, I don’t. And I certainly don’t feel any more inclined to smile when some idiot tells me to.
Nikki Glaser sums it up best in this one-minute rant. When men tell me to smile (or when society expects it from us regardless of how we truly feel,) “It’s a little bit rapey.”