Relationships

This Is Just My Face

Caroline Donofrio

Hello, my name is Caroline and I am not smiling as I type this…

Because I am not smiling, one might assume that I am upset, or worried, or perhaps just contemplative. Maybe I had a bad weekend. Maybe I’m really stressed about work or nursing a broken heart or silently grappling with a case of indigestion.

The answer is none of the above. I am just typing. And this is just my face.

I recently stumbled across a bunch of old photos and unearthed the above gem of me, age four, at Disney World. Look at that unbridled joy. Isn’t that what every child looks like when deposited at the kingdom of happiness?

I remember this trip and can assure you, I was happy. I had just met Goofy at a pancake breakfast! Cinderella hugged me! My mom let me eat Pringles from the hotel mini bar! Again I will sing my lifelong refrain: This is just my face.

There are many more examples where this came from. Blank faced behind a side table. Regarding a flock of ducks with a look of pure consternation. Looking perturbed to be heading to my first school dance. Discovering these photos was strangely affirming, as they answered a question that had plagued me for some time: Had something happened to make me this way? Had years’ worth of urban ennui found its way into my heart and caused my face to freeze up like an unfeeling garden statue?

No, apparently not. It simply was — and always has been — my face.

Appearances aside, most of the time, I am actually content. I regularly think things like, “What a nice day!” or “Gosh, how wonderful it is to participate in this mystery that is life!” But when thinking such things, I just happen to look like this.

I have a theory that if I were a man, this would be seen as a positive. People would say things like:

“That Larry, he’s so focused.”
“He’s so deep and brooding and dreamy.”
“An absolute terror to negotiate with! Always gets what he wants.”
“And you should see him play poker!”

But I am a woman. So I must be upset.

You know those old photos of James Dean or Elvis where they’re leaning on some vehicle, looking like a cross between deciding which sandwich to order and mentally doing calculus? This was considered attractive. Why can’t I be granted this same courtesy? Instead, I am assaulted with a bevy of concern and confusion.

“Are you okay?”
“Did I do something to upset you?”
“You’re such an enigma!”

This. Is. Just. My. Face.

As best as anyone can tell, the concept of resting bitch face (“A person, usually a woman, whose face appears unintentionally mean when it is at rest”) entered the scene in the early aughts. But as a facial phenomenon, it has been happening for centuries.

Joan of Arc? Bitchface. Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Bitchface. Sandra Oh? Total, unabashed bitchface. See also: Rihanna. Anna Wintour. Queen Elizabeth… I rest my case.

So I’d like to request a change in terminology. How about something like resting LEGEND face? Even, like, resting mystery face would be preferable.

My woman-face does not exist for the world’s collective amusement. I have things to do and life to live — and all kinds of thoughts to think. Sometimes I, too, look like I may be ordering a sandwich while mentally doing calculus, and that is okay. I am not a bitchface, resting or otherwise. I am just a face, standing in front of the world, asking it to love me.

There are a lot of things in this crazy universe to be concerned about. Climate change. Midterm elections. Whatever happens when we die. As much as is humanly possible, I remain hopeful. Though my face will never give me away.


P.S. On happiness and the five words that changed everything.

  1. AMEN SISTER AMEN. for the record I think when women have this face I think “wow they are a powerful woman!!”

  2. Wow, you hit the nail on the head 100%. ‘You don’t look very happy’, when I am just feeling indifferent. When my imagination is running wild to block out whatever is going on around me.

    You got me giggling that’s for sure! RLF all the bloomin way!
    thanking you x

  3. Mali says...

    Love love love this. People are always asking me what’s wrong, why I look sad/down/angry, what happened, etc.

  4. Rosabella says...

    I was the type of person who loved to smile, every picture of shows me smiling. However, I did feel a slight envy for people who looked good with Resting Bitch Face, I would just look grumpy instead of serious. Then on Jan 2nd 2017 I developed Bell’s Palsy, and my face has now changed. I cannot smile like I did, I am now asymmetrical unless I hardly move my face. I feel stiff all the time. Still working on accepting it, especially since my smile was such an integral part of the way I presented myself to the world

  5. Nao says...

    I wonder if this is a culture thing. I live in Scandinavia and just could not think of a situation where a man would ask me to smile! What the he**. That is just so absurd. Why would I have to smile to please a stranger? And would a stranger/boss/colleague comment me on not smiling. Just. Weird.

  6. Guilty as charged here. RBF or RLF or better RMF, where people ask the same questions over and over. And I just love those guilty people for what they can see on my face.

  7. Ella says...

    I love my friends with RBF (or should I say resting legend face) and am here for them!

    I happen to have whatever is the opposite of resting bitch face, and find I have to work to turn THAT off whenever I am in a situation (99.5% of the time around men) when I need to be perceived as serious, or non-flirty, or, say, intelligent. And then people (men) get VERY surprised by what they perceive as my sudden intensity. So I guess we just can’t win!

  8. Melissa says...

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to “SMILE!” by my mom when my face is at rest. Growing up that’s probably the thing I heard the most. Well that, and “I suppose…” when I asked for something, which also drove me crazy.

  9. Samantha says...

    I usually just say, “this is the way God made my face.” I’ve learned this makes people feel uber uncomfortable and they drop it and hopefully will think twice before telling another women they need to smile more.

  10. Christa says...

    I am a card holding member of the RBF club, but my ex-husband once told me that I *also* suffer from “resting-bitch-voice.” It was an AHA moment for me. (And he did truly mean it with love.) But all of a sudden it was like my whole life made sense, because it finally answered why people were asking me if I was okay, or why I was upset, etc. even when they couldn’t see me. I just don’t get excited with my voice, I guess…..well, to other people that is!

  11. Taylor N says...

    Oh – the “enigma” line. Someone recently said that exact thing to me at a college reunion and it drove me up the wall because of the way it implied that I was withholding something or silently judging. I’m very reserved and observant when I’m in a new situation or with a lot of people, and deeply emotive around my close friends and family. Thank you as always, Caroline!

  12. Joanna says...

    This piece really really resonated with me (and clearly so many other women!). Very well said. Thank you.

    I’m reminded of the very powerful spoken word piece “Ode to My Bitch Face” by Olivia Gatwood. Here it is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yGzMUzrgzA.

  13. Zita Theunynck says...

    Caroline. It’s official. I love you.

  14. Api Haorei says...

    I got married about a week ago and this was how I looked. I wasn’t the happily smiling blushing bride. I was happy of course, but I just didn’t had that smile. So our photographer told me to smile and pose like a lady (jokingly though)!!!!
    Should’ve said I was giving the resting LEGEND face!

  15. Meggles says...

    Caroline, I think the same thing every time I read something you’ve written: “What a talented writer.” Really. I mean it.

  16. Katrina says...

    Couldn’t have said it all better! Hate having to answer if I am okay all the time. ‘This is just my face.’ I’ll be sending this around!

  17. Charlotte says...

    Same! My whole life strangers have been telling me to “cheer up!” It’s just my face! I can smile but my resting face is apparently frown-like. Nice to see there are others out there!

  18. I can totally relate with this. It has happened with me thousands of time. People often keep on asking me, “Girl why you look so upset?”
    And I am like guys my face is like this haha I am not sad or anything, don’t try to be face readers haha

  19. Elizabeth Johnson says...

    I work in a restaurant selling wine and often the men I sell wine to will tell me to smile or ask why I’m not smiling. I want to ask “I don’t travel to your desk job and ask you why you’re not smiling while you tick off your tasks or clear your inbox.” Instead I politely respond “Because I’m working”
    Signed,
    Resting Task Oriented Face

  20. Gini says...

    haha you always make me laugh! I love that you are always fighting to be yourself… or not fighting but making us think that it´s ok to be us! I personally have a bitch rest face and that´s why I totally get this, why aren´t we as women considered “attractive bitch face havers” ?? haha next time someone tells me if i´m upset, i´ll just quote you haha. ps. I want to be your friend!!!

  21. Chloe says...

    I’ve been thinking about “RBF” lately and agree 100% that it is patronizing. It’s just another, more acceptable way of telling a woman to smile more. When I realized that, I stopped using the term outright.

  22. Emily Peterson says...

    My husband has resting bitch face, and he gets hassled about it all the time!

  23. Crystal says...

    I’ve always thought the patriarchy was afraid of a woman not smiling, because that woman might not give them whatever it is they want from her. I’ve always imagined that that particular sensitivity came from a deep general patriarchal insecurity. Something remniscent of being scolded, or not affirmed, and then transferring that to womankind, demanding that we already welcoming at all times. I do realize this smiling thing seems to be very American. Does it happen much anywhere else?

  24. Kiani says...

    If I had a dime for every time a male colleague told me to “Smile!” asked me “What’s wrong?” or said I looked “So serious” I’d be a rich woman. I had a male boss once who would tell me to smile almost every single day and I was so confused because.. he was never smiling. He always looked so grumpy, like he didn’t want to be bothered, and I was so perplexed at why he of all people would be the one to tell me I needed to smile. Then I realized, of course, it was just that.. a double standard.

  25. Jen says...

    Ha! Thank you. How many times have I had to tell people I’m not standoffish? Just because you can’t read what I’m thinking doesn’t mean I’m not approachable. Get to know me, not my face.

  26. Laura says...

    Caroline, honey, I hear you. I am 34 and realized a while ago that over the years I have subconsciously trained myself to look slightly bemused at all times. My eyes crinkle and I have a small smile on my lips most of the time, because I too have resting legend face! I look mean, judgmental and generally just displeased with life. And I am none of those things and hate having others perceive me as such. Ugh.

    • Lovely! I for one thank you Laura! We all have something that we learned causes misunderstanding, so we decided to adjust/tweak/change ourselves slightly for social reasons.

      I mean…what’s the solution here? We’re supposed to dismiss the people who actually *are* letting us know they’re bored, displeased, in a bad mood, and so on because there’s a small chance they might have resting legend face? That hardly seems right. So what’s the solution? I’m hearing a lot of don’t’s but what are the do’s?

    • anon says...

      Darcy, I think the “do” is “do withhold judging people based on their appearance”. or “do wait for someone to tell you they are displeased before assuming they are, based on their physical appearance”.

  27. KY says...

    Thank you! And yes!

  28. How about “resting face”.
    I get the feeling this is a very American thing. In Europe, the only people who tell me to “come on, smile!” or “stop looking so grumpy” are usually creepy man I definitely don’t want to smile at. *Maybe* before they used their stupid pickup line, but never after.

    • Val says...

      Ha! I was thinking the same. The frequency of the ‘smile!’ comment definitely increased after moving to the US, and by now had it equated to ‘creepy dude’. So it doesn’t really affect me. Sometimes I do chuckle a little thinking how funny it sounds or how weird the person saying it comes across.

  29. ss says...

    What about those of us that have a RFF, resting friendly face. People think I am friendly when that’s just my face!

    • Katie M says...

      I make so many friends whenever I queue, which would be fine if I wasn’t the world’s most shy human. Please don’t talk to me, I find being out in public exhausting enough as it is. I don’t want to hear about your new job, or your divorce, or the last purse you bought, or how much I’d like to date your child/cousin/brother. Please, just let me queue.
      RFF is a weird part of life.

    • Madie says...

      Yes, I have this. My husband teases me that I’m the world’s “docent”, because I get asked always, everywhere, for advice, directions, information… I think I just look approachable. And sometimes it gets OLD. I mean, I am friendly! But trust me, there are definite upsides to looking unapproachable!

  30. This was important for me to read. My son (5 years old) and I smile and laugh all the time. However, my daughter (3 years old) always looks angry. I am always worried something is wrong and perplexed by why she never seems happy. It’s impossible to get her to smile. After reading this, I realized I need to be more accepting. She is offering me a new perspective and it’s clear to me now that this might just be her face. Thank you Caroline!

  31. Shannah says...

    Yes. I don’t get told that often, but someone told me to smile last week, and I’ve been thinking about it all week. I think it’s such an incredibly presumptuous request. And it’s always done with a straight face, I’ve noticed. I can’t imagine it being at all appropriate for me to tell a man to smile and expect the to be taken seriously. Never in a million years. It annoys me that I even have to take the energy to be annoyed about it.

  32. Sara says...

    Thank you so much for this. As a teen, I used to think something was wrong with me because peers and teachers would ask (what felt like) all the time, “What are you so angry about?” I wasn’t angry. I just have a serious resting face, but I thought there was something I didn’t understand about how a face is supposed to be.

  33. Eve says...

    I just wanted to add one quick thing! My husband perpetually has a resting… type of face and everyone always comments that he looks mad or what is he upset about or what’s he so angry about, so if it makes anyone feel any better…it isn’t a guarantee that men’s expressions are interpreted any more positively !! (although he’s just one person :))

    This article has made me think more about how much I tease him about it though…

  34. Owl says...

    Lol. Fascinating read! I am the opposite – a resring smiling face. I sometimes think I should try to look more serious, but as soon as I speak, I forget and a warm smile takes hold. Can’t help it. So I guess we all have our faces, and as long as it’s authentic… it’s all good!

  35. Thank you so much for writing this. I have struggled with other people judging me by my facial expressions my entire life. I am so glad that I am not alone!

  36. Irena says...

    So loved this. I, too, have this problem of others thinking I’m angry or mad or unhappy. I sometimes say: Hey, I’m Russian. We don’t smile

    I’m not actually Russian (you have to go back about three sets of grandparents for that!) but…apparently this is quite true of many Russians. Apparently, I was told, for multiple reasons, Russians historically do not smile.

    One wonders if we can inherit that?

    Again, terrific post and amazing to read how many others share this.

    It. Is. Just. MY. Face!

  37. Okhee says...

    I was somewhat grumpy last night after a four-hour commute of twenty miles due to an airplane crashing onto 101 Fwy, and my ever-cheerful hubbie called me an Eeyore. It’s exhausting, the need to be upbeat and optimistic regardless. As for him, he wakes up every morning “alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic,” as he likes to quip.

  38. Jess says...

    This reminded me of a fun meme I saw last week – Brie Larson posted HeyMermaid’s reimagined movie posters where the formerly broody male stars were given big grins in response to male fans remarking that she doesn’t smile in the Captain Marvel trailer.
    https://www.polygon.com/2018/9/23/17892512/captain-marvel-brie-larson-smile-iron-man-doctor-strange-captain-america-poster-instagram

    It drives me insane being told to cheer up all the time, even after 16 years together my boyfriend can’t deal with my naturally ‘brooding’ expression!

  39. Heather says...

    I actually got excited when I read the title of this piece, because I’ve said those same words so many times! It’s just nice to know I’m not alone in that regard.

  40. JEHANARA HAIDER says...

    A million thank you’s for writing this. I have had this internal monologue a million times. So happy to see it in print and to realize that it is just not me.Just because I am woman should not mean I need to be all huggy, smiley, bubbly etc ALL THE TIME. The term “Resting Bitch Face” needs to be eliminated from our vocabularies.

  41. Sarah says...

    My 18 month old niece has a perfectly calm and serene face. No matter who is jumping up and down trying to crack her up, she calmly looks upon them and occasionally gives a little lip twitch. I adore this so much about this child. And I’m going to save this article and give it to her in about 12 years.

  42. Cassandra Fugal says...

    Thank you. Growing up in sunny, ever smiling California, I was constantly asked what was the matter or why I was sad. Nothing, I’m not sad, I just don’t need to walk through every moment of my life smiling. Moving to Boston was such a relief, there I was only asked by men why I wasn’t smiling and only about twice a month. It was still freaky, why does my smiling or not smiling matter to you, perfect stranger, but it was an improvement over everyday being asked about my feelings by men and women just because I didn’t smile all the time.

  43. Shade says...

    Love this!!!
    In college days – “Why are you so sad” was the pick up line every single guy used on me if I happened to be sitting in a club and not dancing at that exact moment. Ridiculous.

  44. Kiley M says...

    I have inherited my mother’s “man getting bitch face”. When she was a lifeguard, my dad who was a patron of the pool was compelled to ask her out, and when she asked him why he said, “I wanted to know why you looked so upset sitting up there.” Her response: “If I sat up in a lifeguard chair smiling at you, you’d think I was a psycho!” Fast forward 25 years, I met my husband at work. His initial impression of me? She looks really mean. We’re now married and expecting our first kid in a few months :) Or should I say… :(

  45. Kathleen says...

    I love this post, very witty and well done!!

  46. HC says...

    When living in NYC, I would get comments: “Smile!” “It’s not that bad!” etc. walking down the street almost every day. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone!

    Can we call it Resting Badass Face?

    • Hadassah E. says...

      Ha Ha!! I live in NYC too and have that Resting bitch face. The comments walking down the streets are endless. LOL!

  47. Abbe says...

    ALSO (my second comment because this topic clearly has me fired up lol), I hate when people ask me “are you ok?” and when I tell them yes, ask, “but why do you look so upset?” It’s as though I 1) Don’t know my own emotions or 2) am lying to them. To which I say 1) I am a grown adult and am very capable of knowing how I feel, thank you, so how about why I tell you that I am okay you acknowledge that I probably know how I feel better than you do and 2) if you really think I’m upset and just not telling you, maybe there is a REASON I don’t want to share how I’m actually feeling with you, random stranger/acquaintance/co-worker/boss — these are normally the people who make those comments, because anyone I’m actually close to, who I would talk to if I was actually upset, would never ask that. It just discounts your autonomy over your emotions and suggests you should be an open book to everybody. My emotions are my business and I’ll share with whomever/whenever I want to!

  48. Emma says...

    On the very opposite end of the spectrum- I don’t have a poker face at all. I have been called out for making really negative faces (in court, in training, in class… etc when I don’t agree with someone, am stressed, or bored), and I sometimes do appreciate someone making a private comment to me so that I can remember to keep my feelings to myself a little better where appropriate. :|

  49. Abbe says...

    THANK YOU CAROLINE. Yesterday four different people asked me “what was wrong” and I was like, THIS IS MY FACE. Yesterday, I was asked this as I was studying for a midterm, waiting for coffee, texting, and writing a paper (why yes, I am in grad school, how could you tell?!). Who, tell me, WHO is smiling to themselves while doing any of those activities? Must I always look like I’m about to burst into song and call forth some woodland animals, just because I happen to be a woman?

    • Laura says...

      “Must I always look like I’m about to burst into song and call forth some woodland animals, just because I happen to be a woman?” —- what a great quote!

  50. Allyson says...

    And on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve always been very smiley and it often feels like an obligation. I smile at strangers all day (Midwest represent!) and it’s exhausting.

  51. Clare says...

    When I was a teenager people would often tell me that I needed to smile more cos people would think I was up myself.. but it was just my face.. and as a young supermarket check out worker people (often old men) would ask me often to “smile” for them.. It used to bother me, why do I owe anyone a smile??! “Resting legend face” is a good one :)

  52. Jennifer Hettinger says...

    THANK YOU!!!

    • Angela says...

      I wish I would have done this to random men telling me to smile as I walked down the sidewalk when I lived in NYC. 🤣

  53. Maggie says...

    Yes to that Notting Hill reference!

    Thinking with a resting face, “wow, what a nice day!”
    *someone says something about my face
    Thinking with a now smile. “oh, f off.”

    smiles can be deceiving.

  54. Nina Dhollander says...

    My boyfriend calls it “mysterious woman staring out of window,” which I guess I can live with.

  55. EvitaM says...

    God, this emancipation thing is really tiring at times…

    • Jessica says...

      OMG YES! Its like every post.

    • Tricia says...

      Yeah it is. But if we don’t do the work it doesn’t happen. (Typing with a Resting Legend Face)

  56. Mina says...

    You hit the nail on the head every time Larry!
    Resting Legend Face all the way.

  57. Hannah says...

    Oh God, yes, same here! I can’t even count how many times I’ve been told to smile more – best example: I was out with my friends, dancing, having fun. I was content. Until one of my (male) friends came up to me and told me to smile – wasn’t I content? Wasn’t I happy? … What I gave him instead was a very deep scowl. Don’t tell me to smile.

    (Plus a fun story: As a teenager I was convinced I was giving nice, pleasant small-smiles whenever they took our school picture. What does it look like instead? Like I was trying to give them a blank stare.)

  58. Julie says...

    Thank you so much to know its not just me. So many times people ask if im ok, sad unhappy and i think people treat me differently because they think im a downbeat person. Maybe we could start a club.

  59. Sarah says...

    I have this too! People always ask if I’m okay. My consolation – RBF = less wrinkles = looking younger for longer.

  60. MM says...

    Oh my gosh! This is my daughter through and through and I love her for it. When people are confused about her lack of expression- especially during moments that should prompt exuberance- we just let them, she’s dancing and having a party on the inside. We’re in love with her, so we have insider knowledge. We’ve cracked her code, so to speak, but I hope she never changes!

  61. Claire says...

    One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone (usually a man) tells me I need to smile or I would be prettier if I smiled. I’m pretty with a smile or without one thank you very much! The people telling me this believe I’m bored or upset. Nope. I just don’t smile all the freaking time and I shouldn’t have to! I always want to respond to people who tell me to smile, do you smile all day everyday? Even when you’re at work? I’m glad other people relate to this problem. And I like changing the term from resting bitch face to resting legend face. I’ll start working on it.

  62. Taylor says...

    This may be my favorite article ever. This is literally my life! I once joked that I should put RBF as my “weakness” on a job application. In college a guy would ask me all the time “Who peed in your cheerios?” and this was during warm up for a D1 gymnastics competitions…I’m just freaking focused dude. Just this past weekend I was harassed by somebody I didnt know while hanging out with friends “what was the matter with me” and “whats her problem”? I’m pretty sure I might have just been thinking about the awesome day I had or what I was going to have for dinner. This is just my face. Wow. I love this. Thank you for sharing!

  63. Kelly says...

    I have resting happy face, and I’ve often struggled to assert myself because people don’t believe I’m genuinely upset or mad. When I worked with one of my best friends, who has RBF, people were always shocked to realize that she’s the optimist and I’m the worrywart.

  64. Mathilda says...

    I have things to do and life to live — and all kinds of thoughts to think. !!!
    And yes, Total strangers (always male) tell me to “smile” when they pass me by. It is so annoying! Sometimes I try to look more friendly but then there is little concentration left for doing things and living a live and thinking thought…

  65. SLF says...

    I love this! And I wish I had been able to say just this whenever someone came along and said, “You look tired.” Agggh!

  66. Megan says...

    Me too. I remember riding in the back seat of the car and my mom getting upset with me, saying that I always looked angry and why couldn’t I be happy!! Just turn the corners of my mouth up and smile! I don’t remember what I did. My face still looks the same now. But I do smile, a lot. Always have. Just not all the time.

  67. You look so cute in that photo! I don’t care what anyone says!

  68. Rebecca says...

    I can’t tell you how many times in my life a random man has told me to ‘Smile’. Because my face just needed you SIR to tell it what to do. No. No it did not. This is just my face. Leave it alone. Period. The. End.

  69. Jean says...

    Thank you, thank you and amen sister.

  70. Bonnie Blackard says...

    OMG! I wish I could post pictures of my school photos here!

  71. Daynna says...

    You are such a godamned good writer. Seriously. In this, the era of outrage and offense, this easily could’ve come off as just one more grumbling diatribe the world doesn’t actually need. But instead, it’s thoughtful, quirky, funny, and so damn relatable, even though I don’t suffer from the same terribly-named affliction you do. The way you write makes me feel like we are already good friends and I love it and it makes me want to read so much more from you. You write intelligently. And not intentionally provocatively. And I look forward to all your pieces.

  72. Kara says...

    I, too, am an unapologetic representative of the resting legend face club ;-) so I can definitely sympathize! I’m also 6+ ft tall, so already not the most welcoming seeming, but what can you do besides keep living life?

    On a separate note, I truly love your writing and find certain sentences jump out to me and stick with me from each article. Sometimes it’s the particular turn of phrase, other times it’s the sentiment behind it, sometimes both, but you truly have a gift and a skill.

  73. Jen says...

    Crazy coincidence – got accused of being unhappy with a project at a meeting today. Completely false; I was focused and excited. I’ve been told to “smile” a sh*t ton growing up, and have made a point to do so but sometimes I just want to rest my face. How about ‘resting face’. Agreed that there is a double standard. But I’m Asian and have certain features that have been deemed b*tchy by mainstream film and media so there’s that, too. I don’t care anymore with strangers but it feels like discrimination when it comes from your boss.

  74. caroline says...

    holy crap…SO TRUE. thank you for writing this. i`ve heard the same ridiculous thing over and over again… “you should smile more”/ “everything okay?”/ or my favorite… “you`d be a lot prettier if you were smiling”. it`s just my face, thanks.

  75. Meg says...

    Thank you for saying this. I was feeling like I was the only one feeling this way. It also seems as though women in the workplace who smile more are promoted faster even if their work isn’t necessarily better. I don’t know how to get around this because smiling more feels forced or fake.

  76. Cee says...

    My favourite response to this phrase comes from my dad (a pastor!) who, after having the term explained to him, suggested, in icy, enunciated tones: “Do not wake the resting bitch.”

    • Sasha L says...

      Lol, your dad sounds awesome

  77. Candela says...

    “Are you OK?” “Are you angry?” “What’s wrong?” Nothing! Nothing is wrong. I’m OK, I’m thinking or just quiet.
    Also, my face bothers you? Don’t look at me, sorry not sorry.

  78. polyana says...

    I was recently told by a doctor that I need botox in the space between my eyebrows because, as he said “You look mean with those wrinkles, you must furrow your brows a lot.” To which I furrowed my beautiful brows in response and said, “I’ve had those lines as long as I can remember.”

    I do “just have that face” where I look (to society) incredibly worried and angry when I’m not smiling, and have had to put up with comments like this all my life – but to have a medical professional tell me this is “necessary” so I won’t “look so mean?”

    I am 32 – and was just there for help on treating some acne scars (none of which are on my forehead), when he suggested this.

    When I came home and told my partner, he started telling me I don’t need botox, aging is beautiful, and the doctor was an idiot and a medical mercenary, so that helped. We share an office and he’ll sometimes glance over and say “you look so peaceful at work.”

    So another option could be “This is my [legendary] at peace face, actually.”

  79. AMBC says...

    I’m all for the thesis of this piece. But to the extent that the term must persist/has been embraced, can I put in a word for returning to an earlier iteration, “bitchy resting face”? Your “resting face” is bitchy, your “bitch face” isn’t resting! I’ve lost this battle already, I just really regret that the the term “bitch face” has become so pervasive.

  80. Amy says...

    My 2 year old daughter has not yet learned to smile at strangers. It makes preschool pictures slightly disappointing, but you know what? I don’t really care. Making her a people pleaser is not my parenting goal.

  81. Rachael says...

    Me too! Me too! People often write me off as a BITCH because of my face, which is not usually smiling. I promise I’m a genuinely optimistic and warm person! I just look serious most of the time. Whatevs!

    • Margot says...

      OMG! This is so true, Rachel!!! Thank you, Caroline!!! You have made my day! xoxo

  82. jade lees says...

    I adore this. Also the line “I am just a face, standing in front of the world, asking it to love me.” just made my day.
    Caroline – I sometimes feel you are inside my head & heart.

  83. Can the “You look tired…” comment get grouped in with this too? Nope, asshat. This is Just. My. Face. These are my eyes that gravity has naturally taken down its’ inevitable black hole. These are my blue-tinted under-eye bags/circles that are no longer covered up by concealer ever since I stopped giving any fucks. And this here is just my face with a few extra years and a sprinkle of wrinkles achieved by… I dunno… living??!! Which, for the record and contrary to popularly held belief, I actually find my crow’s feet cute and endearing. And if I didn’t look tired, chances are it’s because I haven’t aged which means that I’m dead. So, I’ll take my face being my face over being dead any day of the week. And, yes, I am tired. So very sweet of you to notice.

    • Sasha L says...

      So well said!! I like my crows feet too, not just for what they represent, but I actually like the way they look. My silver hair too. Keep giving no fucks Christine, I like you.

    • Renee says...

      Yes this. And why would I want to know if I look tired? Sometimes people are just annoying and weird.

    • Samantha says...

      I can’t stand it when someone tells me I look tired (ESPECIALLY IF I’M IN A GOOD MOOD!). I usually reply with, ” that’s just a nice way to tell someone they look like crap…”

  84. Molly says...

    Yes. just yes. completely.

  85. Ee kiat says...

    Yes I love my bitchface. That’s jus me. I save my smile for people I love only. Period.