RIP, Resting Bitch Face

A minor case of RBF. I can almost hear the scoff.

Also known as Chronic Bitchface, a resting bitch face is the condition of having an autopilot mean expression. When this term came out last year, I immediately embraced it and told everyone proudly that I have RBF.

Earlier today as I’m smiling to myself on the street, thinking about how I was holding a super cute puppy while shadowing an SF SPCA outreach event, a man stopped me and said “Excuse me? I just want to tell you that you’re really gorgeous. And your haircut is really awesome.”

Did I mention that I was scarfing down a BURRITO in sweaty gym clothes without make up? If my mother were there, she would chide me for the thousandth time that eating while walking on the street was incredibly unladylike.

I’m not trying to do a #humblebrag or a Missed Connection here; I’m just realizing that the rumors are true: it is good for everyone involved to put a smile on your face. People are so much nicer to you when your expression is pleasant. A solid example is how once an old lady baker gave me a pastry for free simply because I couldn’t stop beaming at her. How awesome is that!

I used to think of my bitch face as a safety shield, protecting me from unwanted attention, but creepers will act on their creepiness no matter what, so why not smile more? Especially because while a smile may result from feeling happy, the reverse is also true.

I remember in high school, our English teacher had the class do a little experiment: to hold a pencil in our mouths to simulate a smile and wait for a few minutes. At first everyone grunted “Ugh this is stupid” as typical teenagers, but after a while, a few giggles broke out. Then some loud chuckles. I started to notice the look in people’s eyes changed into to what Tyra Banks would call “Smizing,” and I began laughing, too.

I just poked around on the Internet a bit and found that the psychologist who studied this phenomenon was Robert B. Zajonc. His findings also showed that the physical act of frowning produces negative feelings as well. Look him up if you’re interested in reading further, and there’s a TED Talk by Ron Gutman on “The Hidden Power of Smiling” too.

Now, I’m not afraid to use my superb bitchface whenever the need rises, but condescending bitterness is not a good look for anyone. And let’s face it, if wrinkles are inevitable, laugh lines are so much cuter than frown lines.




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