Lacey Jones

“Smile!”; “You always look mad”; “Lighten up”; “Why so serious?” and many other comments like these are said to me on a regular basis. I have been told I have an RBF (resting b*#*h face,) or been told by people that I need to smile more often. What frustrates me the most about being told this is not the words themselves, but rather that I have never heard a male been told to “smile more.” 


It is a societal expectation for women to present themselves in certain ways, including not speaking up, being polite, and smiling. However, men do face such criticisms in regards to their appearance or behavior as women do? Some may see men that appear serious as professional and focused, or rather people may not even consider how they are presenting themselves. In contrast, females appear to be mean, irritated, or too emotional when they don’t smile as much. 


This mindset and social expectation can be detrimental, especially to teenage girls. Girls tend to fixate on their appearance and compare themselves to others during this time in their lives. To add on the expectation of appearing a certain way to others, especially to men, causes added stress. This expectation, instilled at a young age, extends to the workplace as well. According to The Atlantic Monthly, “the subtle, unconscious biases that influence things like promotions and evaluations make the office one place where women sometimes really do ‘have’ to smile to succeed.” Demeanor is more often evaluated in women. Just an added area of critique that women have to face. 


For me, I cannot necessarily control that my relaxed face is what some would consider an RBF. I have dealt with others not approaching me because I look a certain way, or tell me I am nicer than they expected. I have tried in the past to force a smile, but I laugh at myself. There is no reason why I should change my appearance. I understand that a smile can be more approachable, but is anyone’s resting face a smile? 


I have accepted my RBF in some regards, but I do actively try to not look so mad, as I hate when my resting face reflects a bad attitude to some people. I will say, COVID allowed me to relax and not worry about how I appeared to others due to wearing masks. Overall, I know that I have to try harder at times to appear easygoing, but I also know that I am not going to change my attitude and work ethic to achieve that.