I am a sufferer of RBF, or Resting B*&ch Face. Urban Dictionary defines it as, a person,
usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless or relaxed, without meaning to.
Anyone who knows me, knows, I laugh at literally the smallest things. They also know, so I’ve been told, that I have an amazing smile. (Shoutout to pops on the braces ones and twos.) Yet, as a result of not smiling like a psychotic clown all day, people tend to think I’m scary. Imagine that.
1. People think you’re mad. All the time.
By-products of this are, people are afraid to approach you. People think you’re impolite even when you say, “please” or “thank you.” When you actually are angry or sad, people don’t care and think it’s nothing new. People assume you hate the world and are always having a bad day. No one believes you when you say, “I’m not mad.” When arguing a point, people often think it’s important to say, “calm down” or “don’t be mad.” I can tell you living in a VERY social culture, my scowl was a bit intimidating. But, having integrated, and constantly running into my little friends ( I am basically the Pipe Piper of Niños), I pretty much smile once every five to ten minutes.
2. You will end up apologizing, many times in your life… for. your. face.
3. People think you’re judging them.
4. You have to channel your inner cheerleader if you really want to make a good impression.
5. You think I’m a
female dog angry black woman… by default.
It’s sad but true that women are held to higher standards than men. Men who scowl are perceived as mysterious, sexy, but even in jest, women are called names for the exact same thing. It’s seen as something that should be changed, not accepted. It demeans women as objects. They should always be pleasant to look at it. But the expectation is doubled, if not tripled being black. I am automatically categorized as an angry black woman, because RBF notions tend to feed into racial biases.
‘And that perception can have profound—and often deadly—effects. According to a report about implicit bias research from the Kirwan Institute at the Ohio State University, a 2003 study found that whites with relatively high levels of implicit bias perceived black people to be more threatening than white people. What was the basis for such a perceived threat? The facial expressions of black people.
White faces with similar expressions weren’t attached to the same negative value judgments otherwise projected onto black people. As a result, the study highlighted, black people were incorrectly understood as angry, which created a rift in the formation of any kind of familial, working relationship—because black people get implicitly labeled as defiant or untrustworthy. ‘
I’m not being a witch. I’m not being bossy. I’m simply giving instructions and my face happens to be attached to the place where words come out. It’s hard to be authoritative at this height (5 foot nothing) while smiling. People barely take the fairy nymph serious so I can’t afford to show you teeth and lead. It’s a juicy contradiction. Here, because stare at me, just waiting for me to do something different. 9 times out of 10, they don’t understand me soooooo I’ve yet to be called bossy. They treat me as an exotic pet. I can practically hear them mentally thinking as I would at the animal behind the glass, “Do something!”
Listen. My face, is my face. It’s kinda hard to change. As a matter of fact, in about 20 years, I’ll still be looking the exact same way, because smiling gives you wrinkles. Although, at any given time my face may convey annoyance, boredom, apathy or anger, chances are I am none of those things. I implore you to speak to the next person you see casually scowling. Engage them with a smile, smiles re contagious. I am not the first to acknowledge this is a major problem for women, but I am the first to acknowledge it for my viewpoint. RBF isn’t a choice, it’s my way of life. Embrace it.