I’m studying in the library and look chillingly unfriendly, so they sit an extra table away. I’m walking down the hallway with an expression that makes me look like I could hurt someone, so they avoid eye contact. I often get asked, “Are you mad?” throughout my day.
I am not perpetually peeved; I have a condition called Resting Bitch Face (RBF). According to Urban Dictionary, a girl whose natural expression is unintentionally hostile and mean-looking suffers from RBF.
This girl has a stern brow that makes her look angry and irritated. Below, the emotionless eyes seem bored, contemptuous, and possibly a little disgusted towards her surroundings. Her slightly down-turned or pursed mouth says a lot without opening. The strong and apparently tense jaw completes the bitter look. She has a terrible case of RBF.
Perhaps you too have this condition, but the only way to be diagnosed is for others to tell you. Unfortunately, your condition will keep others from talking to you.
As one of many girls afflicted with RBF, my blank expression comes off as serious or scary. Apparently, my neutral face intimidates people to the point that they feel threatened in my presence. I don’t know why they think this, my mom always said I was “pretty.”
Some friends told me that when we first met, I seemed angry at the world. I had no idea that I came across as mean! For example, a current friend of mine has seen me being hilarious, sophisticated, and, of course, interesting. She also saw me being unapproachable because of my RBF. I seemed harsh whenever she saw me alone in the halls. We didn’t become friends for a whole year because my face kept us apart.
Another friend shared that my condescending looks made her believe that I did not enjoy conversations with her. I am certainly not against people inquiring about my well-being. I didn’t realize that my looks caused her to believe I hated her existence. She thought that I was always unhappy because of my RBF condition. I am a friendly person, I promise. I even smile — sometimes.
It’s a huge shock to know that people won’t interact with me because of my face. It also sounds like an excuse: “Your face scared me, so I didn’t want to talk to you.” I can’t help how my blank expression looks.
People judge girls and women based on how their hair, makeup, clothes, and apparently their face, look. They shouldn’t be labeled a bitch because of something they were born with. Nobody ever says that boys have RBF; they’re labeled “aloof,” “stoic,” or “serious.” Women are expected to look a certain way, and if they don’t fit the pleasant looking norm; they’re labeled as monsters.
I promise that I am not sitting in the library writing a strongly worded email about how I hate everyone. I promise that I am not walking down the street looking for someone to fight — at least not all the time, anyways. I promise that I am not disgusted that someone asked me a question. Anyone else with this condition is probably not either. I just have an “I hate the world and everyone in it” appearance.
I am aware that I could try smiling all the time to counteract my RBF. But consciously focusing on looking engaged, excited, and happy is exhausting. Not to mention, if I smiled constantly, I might creep a few people out.
RBF is a real condition that affects real people. You might know those people, or you might be one. I understand what you are going through. So if you see a girl studying, she’s not silently cursing the world (unless it’s math homework). Just because her face says bitch doesn’t mean she is one.
Grace Barker is an 18-year-old living in West Des Moines, Iowa. She enjoys reading, eating fun food with friends, writing, and giving her opinion on most everything. Follow her on Twitter @GraceMaczei.
Top photo: Mad Men, via bettydraperlookingpissed.tumblr.com
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