Along with millions of other women, I suffer from an unfortunate, incurable condition. Living with it means that even though 97% of the time, I am not sad, angry, menopausal, or constipated, my face sends out a noticeable F-U-C-K-Y-O-U vibe. Yes, I have Chronic Bitch Face, and as a result, strangers think I'm a sad, rude crone. How do I know? They've told me this to my bitch face.
I thought I was all alone in my plight until Taylor Orci created a PSA back in May about Bitchy Resting Face and the corresponding Asshole Resting Face for guys. It showed that having a bitch face is normal and natural for women. But more importantly, it informed the masses that women with bitchy resting face aren't necessarily bitches, they just don't tend to fucking smile all the time.
But despite the increased public awareness of bitch face, it's still tough for women to get away with not grinning constantly. Slate just wrestled through the "tyranny of the smile," citing several studies that indicate that a smile is almost an extension of femininity and sexual identification. In one study that the article cited, volunteers had to face a series of babies and their little expressions: many of the people thought that the smiling babies were female, but the non-smiling babies were male. Other than revealing that babies are incompetent in adopting gender constructs, this study indicates that people have internalized the idea of smiling as a naturally feminine trait that eventually becomes a societal expectation. Lucky-ass men, on the other hand, get to be more selective and rare with their emotions. If a man doesn't smile, it's no big deal. They're just being men, you know.
So here we are, as a society, collectively expecting women of all ages are to smile, and if they aren't smiling, we're incorrectly assuming that something is amiss and they must be bitches. Or mutants. (This notion locks arms and skips down the street with the idea that women should always be nice, a standard that, as I noted previously, keeps women from being themselves.)
No one - especially a stranger - has any fucking right to question my state of constipation or anger on the street because I lack the happiness requisite for proper woman-ing. I should not have to pay my toll for existence in public a gadzillion smiles so I can walk around without shocking commoners who believe that they need to be cheered up by my femininity. It is not my responsibility to be everyone's sunshine. I am my own human being and I deserve to dictate my own emotions and facial expressions. I do not owe anyone a smile. I am not naturally smiling. I have a bitch face.
Despite the reception it sometimes gets, I've grown to love my bitch face. And you should, too. Here's why.
My Bitch Face prevents me from looking like a DELUSIONAL MURDERER.
Seriously, guys, I might look like a bitch when I'm not making a facial expression, but if I were constantly smiling, I'd look like I should probably be carrying a bloody axe, too. Imagine me sitting in on a lecture on genocide or calculus, grinning ear to ear like fucking Pennywise the clown. WOULD THAT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER?
If you expect me to express a theatrical level of joyful glee by walking down the streets, visting a museum or getting serviced (do you really want me to smile like maniac?) then you are a weirdo.
My Bitch Face Connects Me With My True Emotions
What makes a smile special is its authenticity: it is literally a product of happiness and joy. But society's expectation of the female smile has in some cases, ruined the smile. From Slate:
In Why Smile?, LaFrance discusses the psychological dissonance female flight attendants experience after hours of forced gaiety. They report feeling estranged from their emotions (the industry parlance for this state of numbness is “going robot”), falling into depression, losing sight of their true selves. And even if a smiler succeeds in dodging such traumas, she still has to contend with the judgments her expression invites, which are not always positive.
WE ARE NOT SMILING ROBOTS. If I am unhappy, pissed or simply walking down the street, should I smile? Wouldn't that be terribly misleading? Wouldn't that be... fake? Yes, it would. I have walked down the street wearing a massive smile before for very authentic reasons (daydreaming about Bradley Cooper), but otherwise, I don't understand why I should don a pleasant smile so society can avoid getting their dick in a knot over seeing a woman experiencing a neutral emotion.
It's My Bitch Face
I really, really love my bitch face. It is ultimately, my face, bitch or not. I do not fear being looked upon as a bitch - although everyone looks away with terror when my face does its bitch thing - because I don't think it's a bad thing to be called a bitch, and I REALLY don't think it's a bad thing to walk down looking a like a bad bitch.
Strangers have asked me "why are you so mad?" or told me "don't be so mad!" - and I've tried to placate them, to exert an extra effort to assure these strangers that I'm just fine. But lately, I've realized that I kind of like walking around as if I own this fucking city. I like my fast strut and looking like I have places to go because I usually do. I like looking determined and focused and if bitch is a consequence of this mindset then I'm fine with that.
Now, when people call me a bitch for my bitch face, it makes me happy. And it should make you happy, too.
Image via Getty.