I am a sufferer of resting bitch face. The symptoms included, but are not limited to: being interested in what someone is saying and not looking interested, contentedly working and people thinking something's wrong, and waiting in line for the bathroom and people thinking you're a stone cold bitch, and then being told that. Most of the time, what my face is telling people is not what I really feel. Most of the time I'm happy, or at least content. My face just doesn't quite get the memo.
One of the side effects of this disease is constantly being asked, "Why aren't you happy?" I then turn my resting bitch face toward them and mutter something like, "I'm fine, I'm just working,” and everyone takes that to mean I think my life is horrible and I am stressed.
But guess what it really means when I say, "I'm fine, I'm just working"? It means that:
I am fine, I am just working.
And yes, I love my job, so most of the time I'm more than fine. But sometimes I'm just fine. So let me be fine and carry on.
But what's more annoying about the fact that I have resting bitch face is that society is pushing me to change and walk around with a constant smile on my face, skipping on rainbows while singing songs to butterflies. There is a cultural expectation that women walk around with a smile on, even when, statistically, we’re not any happier than men. And it's pretty socially acceptable to ask people who aren't smiling to smile, or why they aren't smiling.
Why is that? Do I really need to sit there smiling dumbly to assure everyone else around me that life is good? I don’t really feel like that’s my problem whether people perceive me as happy. The only time I think it’s my responsibility to show happiness is when I am genuinely happy, which happens daily, if not hourly. And you asking me to smile does nothing but take me from a content mood to an annoyed mood within seconds.
However, there is also evidence that my resting bitch face could be a cause of my singledom. Studies show that people who self-report as having a resting bitch face are actually more likely to be single. I’ve noticed this problem before, as I’ll be having a good time with someone only to go home and be greeted with the, “Did you have fun tonight?” text. To which I respond, “Yes, I did, thank you!” And then can only expect a text similar to, “Oh, okay good. I couldn’t tell or not.”
I’ve delved deeper into this issue before, and the basic gist of it is that they did see me laugh, smile and enjoy myself, but it wasn’t the whole time.
Okay, well, duh. Do you really think that every second of that date was something to smile about? Mmmm, that water was delicious right!? HAHA, smile, winky face. NO.
I can’t get down with that.
There was another time I was at a picnic with a guy and a bunch of his friends. I didn’t know anyone other than the guy, so I was feeling a bit out of place. Multiple times his friends came up to me and asked me why I wasn’t having fun. Well – I was feeling a bit out of the circle, and the times I was having fun, I was smiling. Do I really need to stand on the patio alone smiling while you fill your truck with water just so you know that I am finding everything sparkling here? Nope, I’m not going to do it.
Would I say that the picnic was fun? Yes. But was every moment of it worth smiling about? No. That's setting unrealistic expectations if we actually believe that every waking moment of every day is THAT fabulous that we always smile. So I’m not going to stand there doing it just to appease people. My solution instead is to be upfront with people:
Hi, I’m Sara. I have resting bitch face. I can assure you that I am a happy person, who might just take in the lulls of life sans smile. It by no means reflects how I feel about you or the situation.
Take me with my resting bitch face or leave me alone. But I know I’m happy, and that is what counts.