Day 10 of the #WingWritingChallenge is smile.
I briefly considered this topic last night and my mind immediately went to one of my nieces. The youngest – she has a smile that will light up a room from 10 miles away. I’m not kidding. I was going to explain that she was my niece from the Happy Tears posting and how amazing it is that she is as charismatic as she has turned out to be.
Then my mind starting wandering, as it tends to do. I thought about her sister, who we often had to coax a smile from. I thought of her cousin, also female, who is very much a tomboy and spent much of her youth being told to smile while her brother was not.
Suddenly I was moody.
I woke up this morning and once again thought about this topic, the word smile, and honestly I started to get pissed off. Please, allow me to explain why.
There is an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa is sad. She has no reason, she is just unexplainably so, so sad. The kids at school make fun of her. Her teachers all tell her to smile. The neighbor bugs her about turning that frown upside down. Her own mother tells her to fake it until she makes it because we want people to think we’re a good little girl with parents who take good care of us.
Oh. My. God.
Fortunately the episode ends with Lisa meeting a man named Bleeding Gums Murphy who teaches her that the blues are perfectly fine, that it’s important to be who you are and dammit, if you’re sad, then you go ahead and look sad.
And you know it’s all good in the end when her own mother tells her it’s fine and to be who she is.
We all learned something from that episode. Or I think we were supposed to anyway.
The Simpsons did not explicitly call out “Resting Bitch Face” but they may as well have. What is Resting Bitch Face? It’s that neutral expression women wear. That’s it. No frown needed, no creased brow, just their resting, natural expression.
Strange men on the street used to tell me to smile all the time. What kind of crap is that? When I’m taking a staged photo of my family, I don’t command them to smile, I request they Say Cheese. It’s more polite, yes? Yet people who don’t know me from Eve have no problem telling me to smile.
It doesn’t happen anymore. Do you know why? Because I practiced a neutral positive expression, as opposed to a neutral expression. What is that? A minor squint of the eyes, or a partial smile, half smile, what have you.
Why do I have to work to change myself to make people accept me for who I am when I’m not turned on and entertaining the world? It’s not my job to smile and make your scenery prettier.
I consider it a sense of entitlement, to walk around and tell people what expression to wear because someone they don’t even know deems it necessary.
We do this to grown women.
We do this to teen girls.
We do this to adolescent girls.
We do this to toddler girls.
We do not do this to men, boys, or toddler boys. When’s the last time you stepped around a man because he was wearing Resting Douche Face, and then felt obligated to tell them to smile?
I’m willing to bet a year’s royalties it hasn’t happened. I’m willing to bet a year’s royalties that you’ve never heard of Resting Douche Face.
But we’re all familiar with Resting Bitch Face.
I promise you, Resting Douche Face is not a real thing.
Maybe it should be a real thing. The next time you see a gentleman minding his own business, reading a book perhaps, be sure to interrupt them, tell them to “Smile, baby, come on life isn’t that bad,” and then go about your business.
Sounds a bit like a dick move, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
Instead of creating Resting Douche Face, can we please forget we ever heard the phrase Resting Bitch Face? Pretty please with cherries and a smile … oh never mind. Ugh.