Saving Our Smiles


It has come to my attention that apparently I do not smile enough in public to complete strangers and dare I say it… creeps. I mean, who just walks around with a perfectly projected smile hitting the golden paved streets of the city at 7 am? I mean at 7 am, who has time to smile? I’m in search for my car keys and coffee. Ok, so 7 am may not be the best example... let’s set the scene: it’s a warm 80 degree day in the middle of June and I’m waiting for my best girlfriend at the local café and some random guy comes up to me and says “smile sweetheart, why so angry” maybe I haven’t been properly acquainted with my face in the 29 yrs. on this adoring planet but apparently I projected a face that is a cross between bitter and sadness. It alarmed this gentleman so much that he felt it was his heart’s desire to not only approach me about it but to guide me in the direction of correcting my crass behavior. Let us not consider the fact that I could be contemplating dinner options, remembering the dozens of emails that I’ve left unanswered or just …dare I say it just minding my own damn business.

Maybe this whole resting bitch face is an evolutionary defense mechanism us girls have acquired in hopes to keep creepy ass guys to stay away because the “death stare” has fizzled out like the bell bottom jean… So maybe appearing to be non-approachable can prevent us from being late to work or the next cocktail party because it eliminates the 5 minute dance around to avoid getting called a bitch by rejecting some uber sensitive man-child. It could be hypothesized that many women walking the streets are tired of being harassed and seen as meek weak creatures and the more unapproachable the less likely we are to be grabbed and unwantedly fondled or cat called. It’s safer to be called a bitch than a walking target for sexual harassment.

To find answers I hit the mean streets of social media to weigh in…Nicole, an accomplished social worker living in urban America has this to say “ I guess people figure by adding resting, it means the real bitch within isn’t activated, just the facials.” Eemonyuh a grad student and sorority sister weighs in” oh it’s definitely a real thing, it shouldn’t be a reason for guys to spark up a conversation, I say it’s more reason to leave me tf alone!” “I hate when a guy says smile. Like I’m supposed to walk around all day with a smile plastered to my face at every moment. No one does that she” ~Leslie Jefferson

On the flip side of this I’d like to propose an alternative theory to Resting Bitch Face phenomena. Could it be that women are purposely projecting this face because they think it’s sexy or modelesque? In the era of the perfect selfie is it that women want to be seen as fierce and bad ass and their face is being misconstrued as bitchy or mean. Are we simply failing at the sultry eye, the perfect pout, or over zealousness of the fish face gone horribly wrong? Could it be that societies dated expectations of how women are supposed to act or the attitudes they are to portray? Maybe this is a ploy from some unknown source of women etiquette rules to keep women from exuding their strength and their right to choose who they deem worthy of entering their space using non-verbal communication. Or maybe in that moment we just had gas and holding it in was a little bit uncomfortable.


© 2015 By Dr. Jameta N. Barlow