I inherited my long face involuntarily from my mother- among a shopping list of other terrific genes and traits such as my ability to swear like a truck-driver on meth, my volatile nature, my almond shaped eyes and my opinions on sexuality. Mum always used to tell me “growing up people always thought I was a bitch, it wasn’t because I was mean or purposefully went out of my way to upset people…it was just because of my long face”. Having lived in the same dwelling as my mother for at least 18 years and experiencing firsthand the constant, inexcusable and often unnecessary bitchy behavior she was capable of, I saw this as a cop out. Sure, I used to say, you weren’t a bitch, at all. I totally believe you (not). I never really understood what she was talking about until I realised I was destined to the same fate. A fate, which I recently discovered, is one met by many others such as myself and which has even been assigned it’s own title — Resting Bitch Face or RBF. RBF is defined by Urban Dictionary as “a person, usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless, without meaning to.” There’s others out there like me?! I’m not crazy?! This is an actual thing?!
RBF is a very serious, unfortunate condition which has dramatically affected my quality of life for longer than I can remember. I have been endlessly discriminated against and treated as a second-rate citizen. All because my face naturally seems to fall into an unfriendly scowl that gives off the vibe I might beat you to death or stab you in the eye if you so much as breathe near me. Sometimes I walk around purposefully squinting, raising my eyebrows, biting my lips or making other ridiculous and often tiring faces just to avoid the inevitable scowl that will return if I was to simply relax my muscles ever so slightly. Sometimes my muscles are so used to their natural bitch-positioning that smiling can be actually physically painful. I’m not even exaggerating — it occasionally hurts my face to appear happy. I’m getting really tired of having to constantly explain that no, I’m not pissed off. No, I’m not having a bad time. No, I’m not on the rag. Really, I insist, I’m perfectly fine… it’s just my goddamn face. I could be surrounded by all the baby animals and Ryan Goslings of the world and I would probably still look unimpressed, mate. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the phrases “cheer up!” or “see, you look so pretty when you smile!” It’s complete harassment, utter violation and it’s really starting to frustrate me.
I’ll be innocently going for a balmy late-afternoon walk and thinking how nice it feels with the sun on my skin, when out of nowhere I get yelled at by an old European man on the street to “smile, darling!”
I’m on the dance floor shaking my ass and thinking I’m having a splendid time only to be tapped on the shoulder by a complete stranger and asked if I’m okay. This same person actually has the audacity to completely invade my personal space by attempting to hug me whilst they are gurning their face off and clearly in a far worse state than I am in. Well, I was okay…until you started breathing on me and stroking my arm…
I once had a guy walk up to me in the smoker’s area of a bar while I was minding my own business, casually enjoying my cigarette just to tell me “Excuse me, but you look like a c#nt.” I shit you not — that quote was verbatim. Apparently telling a girl that she looks like a meat-wallet is the highest form of flattery and also a sure-fire way of getting yourself laid. I must have looked like I was about to unleash my c#nt wrath upon him because he then went on to attempt to “explain” his intentions (or dig his hole further). “No, I meant that as a compliment… you just look like you don’t take anyone’s shit. You’re like a total badass or something.” The sheer nerve of some people.
I used to dread School Photo day because of the onslaught of terrible jokes I would have to endure from the photographer in the attempt of getting a glimpse of my pearly whites. They would either succeed in getting an incredibly forced (and somewhat creepy) smile from me or yield under sheer frustration and just snap my RBF in all its glory. Every year I ended up looking like a terrorist or Joan Rivers and neither is something your Grandma wants hanging on her mantle (unless she is a fan of Joan, which — considering they are about the same age — would not be hard to believe).
RBF also makes it exceedingly difficult to hold a job in any industry involving face-to-face customer service or human interaction (which, as a barista with 6 years experience is a rather unfortunate situation to find yourself in). The number of times I’ve been told that a customer doesn’t want their coffee to be made by someone who looks like they are about to neck themselves is ridiculous. And the number of times I’ve heard “please don’t look at the customers like that when you are holding a knife” or “you’re really nice, it’s not personal, but we’re just looking for someone who appears enthusiastic about the position.”
Don’t even get me started on the difficulties involved in meeting new colleagues, friends of friends and potential lovers. Virtually every close friend of mine has admitted that initially they were intimidated by me or just straight up disliked me because they assumed I was a horrible, scary, stuck-up, pretentious bitch who would blatantly snub any comment or attempt at befriending me. This assumption is a fair one to be made if you were to see my face in its resting expression. Forget about being approached by men at bars, they probably think I’ll throw my drink at them and scream “rape!” if they so much as stand in my vicinity. Let alone if they were to ask for my number — “this crazy bitch might castrate me with the broken glass she already just used to glass me in the face with,” is really all I can imagine them thinking. Sometimes I think that I’ve been flirting with a guy only to be told later by a friend, “I thought you were into him, why did you look so bored?” I really can’t help it that my constantly unimpressed face — coupled with my very blunt manner — means I always seem to come across as rude, disinterested or pissed off. Sometimes I feel myself lying — “I’m just really tired” or “Yeah, I’m not having the greatest day” even when I’m totally fine, just because I don’t want to go through the motions of explaining that my face is constantly betraying my inner emotions.
I am a decent, honest and genuinely lovable person despite my face. I don’t kick puppies or blow second-hand smoke into strollers and I try really hard not to sleep with other people’s boyfriends. But when you have a long face like mine you get used to copping a lot of unnecessary flack and begin to buy into the “bitch” reputation that you’ve inherited by default. It’s often easier to just play up the bitch card than the effort involved in hauling that ever-present scowl into a smile. Who walks around smiling at people in this day and age anyway? Mormons and pedophiles. I rest my case. My smile — like my friendship — is something that you really have to work hard at to earn and to deserve. And when you finally get there, I guarantee you won’t regret it. When you do something that really makes me genuinely smile, my goofy little dimples will have you melting like butter and wondering how you ever thought I could have been deemed worthy of the term “bitch.”