The other day my sweet, 17-year-old daughter/friend was relaying yet another episode of the teen-angst drama that is her life.
"Nobody likes me when they first meet me" she said over a ridiculously expensive order of avocado toast (when did that become a thing?) and eggs. Before I could inquire as to why that was the case, she laid it all out for me; and you know what? The more things change the more they stay the same, only these days -- they just have better names.
"They say I have an epic resting b*tch face. I'm notorious for it." I could sense her pride.
I stole a piece of her avocado deliciousness and feigned ignorance in order to maintain my highly coveted, second-mom status. "What? What are you talking about? Your face is stuck in a constant state of adorableness."
But I knew what they were talking about. I'd seen it in candid photos of her. Her resting b*tch face could stop a train.
She is a shy girl; extremely smart with a highly defined bullshit detector (which I'd like to take all the credit for teaching her), but when she's unaware you're looking her face says: Keep moving, there's nothing here for you. You're boring... Why are you still here?
It keeps away the riffraff.
It's not just women, my husband has a resting b*tch face that he has crafted and honed over many decades. It says: Don't bother me you stupid person -- unless you have a dog, then it can come sit next to me. He has a cleft between his eyebrows that could hold a quarter. He looks like an assassin -- until he smiles -- then his whole face lights up and gives him away.
Because I know those two as well as I do, I think the sensitive ones among us have the most murderous resting b*tch faces.
It's like the moat around the castle. It takes effort to get in. If you get scared away -- so be it. You lose.
One night while sitting around gabbing, a couple of my friends were surprised when the conversation turned to their resting b*tch faces. One was absolutely crestfallen. She had no idea she even had one. But it explained why no one would come and talk to her at social gatherings which had bothered her for years. "I looked over and saw you driving once -- honey, your resting b*tch face is terrifying!" our other friend divulged with an appalling lack of tact, after too much sangria.
"Hey wait, I'm a nice person, besides, nobody's face looks happy all the time" she huffed, not wanting to hear it.
I attempted to smooth things over.
"I think it's a form of social anxiety. I don't think we're aware of what our faces say when we're not aware."
Kinda like tone of voice. Some people just have a dismissive tone of voice (my husband's second line of defense, the alligators in the moat.) They don't mean to. They can't hear it.
It's the same for their face. They don't mean to be a b*tch face -- they just can't see what other people see. I've been told I have one that could freeze fire"
"Damn, I was scared of you until I got to know you", people would confide to me when I was younger.
I became aware of my own resting b*tch face back in the '90s; the decade where I unwittingly scared ALL men and most animals and small children.
One day as I was rushing through the madness that is the D.M.V. (rushing is impossible, I just told myself that to maintain my sanity), and was herded like the rest of the cattle to stand on a crappy piece of tape on the filthy, linoleum floor to have my picture taken; the lovely, overworked and highly under appreciated woman snapped it while I was unaware. I waiting for her to look up and say cheese or something. Instead, I heard a click and took that as my cue to smile my big red-lipstick smile.
A couple of weeks later when I received my license in the mail, there she was staring back at me -- that holy terror -- my resting b*tch face -- caught two seconds before the smile.
Yikes! Who was that girl?
She didn't look warm or approachable.
She looked like she'd jump onto your shoulders and snap your neck with her thighs just for the fun of it.
Maaaaaaybe I could see what people meant when they called me intimidating.
Perhaps that's why I couldn't get a date to save my life?
I took notice. I began to pay attention to the feedback I received about my castle/moat energy and I tried to soften the fuck up. It took years. Resting b*tch face still creeps in occasionally if I'm tired or around people I don't care for.
Always a work in progress.