Thank You For Telling Me About Resting Bitch Face

Young woman in car, frowning
Young woman in car, frowning

I had an epiphany the other night at my dining room table. As my husband and I sat around with old friends catching up on their lives, recounting stories of long lost friends and random people from our past, I remembered one particular woman who I was certain never liked me.

"I'm not sure what her problem with me was," I explained.

"Oh no," said our friend over pizza and wine. "She just has Resting Bitch Face." Everyone at the table nodded in agreement.

"What?!" I asked. I had no idea what they were talking about. They seemed to be speaking another language. They soon translated for me.

Resting Bitch Face is apparently a real thing. It's been documented in The New York Times, The Washington Post and a popular PSA parody. It's a condition of sorts according to Urban Dictionary used to describe a person, usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless, without meaning to.

It suddenly all made sense. Said woman really had no personal affront with me, she just suffered from Resting Bitch Face (RBF.) She couldn't help it. That was how her face looked in its resting position. A collage of her recent Facebook profile pictures flashed through my mind's eye, and I recalled how in each one she was sporting that RBF.

Since I became aware of this not so rare condition, I've noticed so many others who suffer from it too: The lady in the carpool line at my children's school whose facial expressions tell me she always has the right of way; the barista at my local Starbucks who I assume is spitting in my extra hot soy latte every day; and the young women from my graduate school seminar who acted like she was doing me a big favor by moving her coat from the seat so I wouldn't have to stand for the entire class. I've been internalizing their scorn for me all this time when really, they just have RBF.

Now that I know this, I've come to understand that I too suffer from a condition, but one on quite the opposite end of the spectrum. I've named it Resting Smiling Face, and I have the crow's feet around my eyes and the laugh lines near my mouth to prove it. I'm not sure if this condition of mine was a learned thing or if I was born that way. I was told from an early age to smile at others, and along the way, I realized that it was just easier to smile rather than frown.

A smile warms your face, softens your voice and just kind of makes you feel good about yourself and the world around you. Plus you get the added benefit of not looking like a total bitch.

But maybe I'm missing something? Maybe all those suffering from RBF would tell me that I look like a phony, like a smiling fool and that my laugh lines are really getting out of control. Maybe those are the adverse side effects of my condition.

I guess I can learn to deal with them because I think the long-term side effects of RBF are much worse. I imagine they include things like deep frown lines, furrowed brows, lack of friends, and a long lonely sad life.

So there you have it. Consider yourself warned you RBFers. And yes, as I write this, I'm smiling. So there.