All my life I’ve been told I have a beautiful smile. Yet even at a young age, I got flack when not smiling. I can remember as far back as junior high people asking me, “What’s wrong? When you walk down the halls, you always look so intense.” I wish I’d known then to simply respond, “That’s just my resting bitch face.”
Resting bitch face is a term my colleague Angi coined. When she introduces herself to a group she is training, at the end of her spiel she remarks, “Oh yeah. I want to warn you. Apparently when I’m not smiling, I look like a bitch. I’ve been accused of ‘resting bitch face.’ So if I’m not smiling at you, don’t assume I’m mad or not approachable. Come up and say ‘hi’. I don’t bite.” At this the group always chuckles because Angi is dead pan funny.
Yet Angi is also knock dead gorgeous. Tall and dressed to the nines, she looks like a svelte, hip Barbie. She has close cropped blond hair, big blue eyes, and curves in all the right places. When she opens her mouth, she is intelligent and sometimes swears like a sailor. But when she doesn’t smile, she has ‘resting bitch face.’
Many of us do. Males and females can be accused of ‘resting bitch face’. For instance, I have a guy friend who teaches and he says that students often accuse him of looking stern and callous when in actuality, he is pretty laid back and at times, goofy. I do however think ‘resting bitch face’ is a label attributed to women; not to men.
Obama often has ‘resting bitch face’. (I don’t blame him – he’s got a lot on his plate). He has been accused of being cold, yet never a ‘shrew’ or ‘bitch.’ James Bond too often has ‘resting bitch face.’ It has made him an international sex symbol. Unfortunately, ‘resting bitch face’ has never gotten me any dates. I remember once being told that when I was angry, “all the beauty drained from my face.”
I wondered why beauty was even on the table. But if truth be told, the issue of beauty is almost always on or off the table for women. In college, a boyfriend once told me, “You’re very sexy when you cry,” after I had just poured out my heart to him about my father’s drug use. Of course we ended up making love, which was great, but I’m not certain he even heard the bit about what was happening in my home life.
If beauty is indeed always a factor then I’ll go with good ol’ Angi’s summation: “Women are their most gorgeous when pissed because they’re most in their passion and power then.”
There must be something about the name Angi… The other night I heard that Angelina Jolie was once offered the role of a James Bond girl. She apparently declined stating that she wanted to be James Bond. You go, girl!
I want to be James Bond. Well, not really. ‘Smiling girl’ is actually more true to my nature than ‘resting bitch face.’
The truth of the matter is that we have many faces; many moods. We need to embrace all of them because they represent all of us. We also need to see beauty in areas that often are viewed as negative. What if worry lines were viewed as intelligent lines and didn’t necessarily need to be botoxed away?
It’s okay to be a human being. And it’s okay to sometimes have ‘resting bitch face.’