In Defense of Bitchy Resting Face

I’ll be the first to admit it, I am a victim of Resting Bitchy Face / Bitchy Resting Face / Perpetual Bitch Face. I’ll be working out at the gym, running outside, meeting new people, at an event, going out for drinks, at a bar, etc. and realize my face has remained generally emotionless, in some instances, even grimacing. To make matters worse, I tend to stare at people a lot… indiscriminately, unconsciously. That being said, people often think I’m staring them down, or sending them a message with my emotionless stare. Breaking news: I’m not. It’s just how my face is. It’s just how some of our faces are. We’re victims of Bitchy Resting Face.

For starters, we’re sorry to all of you who think we’re giving off a bitchy vibe. If I don’t like you, you will undoubtedly know it. While those who suffer RBF, BRF, or PBF, may be the ultimate purveyors of passive aggressiveness, however, we will let you know if we’re being bitchy to you. Trust us. So if youre at the gym and we happen to glance your way and you think we’re glaring at the sub 100lbs you’re squatting… we’re not judging you. It’s just how our face is. If you see us at Starbucks waiting for our drink and we make eye contact with you… we’re not judging you. It’s just how our face is. If you see us at a bar with our signature Resting Bitchy Face… don’t be off put by us. It’s just how our face is.

Living with RBF/BRF/PBF can be hard. Because our friends and loved ones cannot determine on their own whether we actually dislike something or if its just our face, a slew of questions are always asked:

Howre you doing? Are you okay? 
What is this? A Cheesecake Factory restaurant where the waiter constantly checks up on me? YES FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME, I AM O.K. Do I look like a senile woman who needs to be checked up on every so often? Didn’t think so. I’m fine.

Are you having fun? Are you bored?
Look guys, I appreciate your general concern. I really do. But I’m good. I am having fun. I am not bored. An ear to ear smile should not be the only indicator that I’m having fun. I’m not about to go apeshit just because an old 90s song came on, okay? But it is enjoyable.

You look pissed? Are you mad at me?
I’m not. But I swear to God, I will be if you keep asking me.

bitchfaceMoreover, there are a few things that victims of RBF/BRF/PBF hate hearing…

When I first met you I thought you hated me.
Again, it was just my face. When I meet people for the first time rarely do I automatically “hate” them. And like I said before, If I “hate” you, you’ll know it. I don’t understand why my friends have said this to me. Like, why is it relevant? We’re friends now, right? I clearly don’t hate you. At the same time though, this may be due to my “ice queen” demeanor. Even one of my best friends told me “Youre not a warm and fuzzy person. Even once I got to know you, you still aren’t super warm and cuddly. I don’t know why anyone would expect that from you.” It is how it is.

C’mon girl. You’re prettier when you smile.
This is usually said by strangers / construction workers / random people on the streets. This I absolutely HATE. While I get that smiling does make people more attractive, DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO. The worst is when youre at dinner or a similar situation and your date says “Why don’t you smile? You look like youre not having fun.” Seriously? There’s this belief that women, to be feminine, should smile. And I absolutely LOATHE that. There’s actually a great article titled, “Bitchy Resting Face and Female Niceness – Why Does Everyone Expect Women to Smile All the Time?” that discusses everything I abhor. Am I walking around with a grey cloud over my head looking like I just witnessed someone kick my childhood pet? No. On the other hand, don’t expect me to walk around as if I shit rainbows and could be a double for an actress on a Crest Whitening Strips (Advanced stage – although I wouldn’t mind it – fun fact: I’m addicted to teeth whitening strips) commercial. I get that its endearing when men are checking out a woman walking by and say something like “Smile girl!” or the like, but you don’t hear chicks saying to guys, “OHH BOY! You look so much better when you smile! Give me a smile baby!”. No.

To be an acceptable woman is to be feminine and that means being compliant and smiley. It doesn’t matter how many Anne-Marie Slaughters or Sheryl Sandbergs out there tell women to be more aggressive, the current public image of businesswomen in this country is one who bakes cupcakes and who injects Botox, two things that would presumably help sort out any woman’s BRF.

– Hadley Freeman, The Guardian: Bitchy Resting Face: Must it be taken so seriously?

The notion of Bitchy Resting Face is pretty funny. At first, Bitchy Resting Face was a thing we could make fun of (and still can!). However, as I’ve been thinking about it, I think the whole premise of a “bitch face” is completely wrong. Very rarely is a “bitch face” purposefully rude or angry. The moral of the story here is, people confuse a NEUTRAL expression (not smiling) for a bitch face. Just because I’m not smiling for male approval, doesn’t mean I’m being a bitch. You think I OWE you a smile? Think again. The whoel IDEA of a BITCH FACE is a highly gendered and even moreso a sexist notion. The idea that women should always be aesthetically pleasing and “compliant” is masochistic and terribly sad. I’ll smile when I want to. And if I don’t want to, my face will rest as is and should not be called “bitchy” or “icy” or “stuck up”.

Afterall, Tyra Banks taught me to smile with my eyes.


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