Stop Asking Me To Smile

You don’t own the right to dictate my appearance or anything else about me.

I have “bitchy resting face.”

Or, if you want to put it simply, I have a face. I don’t walk around with a smile (false or otherwise) plastered on, which seems to rub some people the wrong way.


Because we live in a world where everything from a woman’s manner of dress, speaking, and general behavior is subject to immense public opinion.

I don’t have “bitchy resting face,” I just have a face. I experience a normal range of human emotions. There are times when I am anxious, angry, upset, incandescently happy, overwhelmed, depressed, neutral, and so on. So, why is it that the only acceptable form of outward emotional expression, on a woman, is that of happiness? Why must I smile at you?

Maybe I don’t want to.

Not smiling doesn’t make me a bitch. If I choose to smile, most likely it has nothing to do with you. You don’t own me or my emotions. You don’t own the right to dictate my appearance or anything else about me. You sure as hell don’t get to tell me, “Life isn’t that hard. Why don’t you smile more?”

Maybe I don’t want to.

You know nothing about me or my life. Maybe my life is that hard. Maybe someone I love just died. Maybe you should mind your own business and stop worrying about whether or not I’m smiling broadly enough to satisfy your needs.

Your needs aren’t my concern.

Please don’t look at me and say, “Oh, you dropped something,” and when I turn around to look, grin at me and reply, “It’s your smile.” I will not grin back at you, even if you make a follow up comment imploring me to.

Your behavior isn’t cute. It’s creepy.

Do I police your emotions, dude in the bro-gear? Do I catcall you or say things like, “Why don’t you smile more, handsome man? You’d be so much better looking if you’d smile more”? No, I don’t.

In fact, I’ve never heard a woman say to a man that he needs to smile more. I’ve also never seen a woman catcall a random guy walking down the street. So, why the hell do you guys do that anyway? Is it to make us uncomfortable? Congratulations. It’s working.

The next time you see someone walking down the street and find yourself thinking, “Man, that lady looks like a royal bitch,” ask yourself why. Why do you allow yourself to think that way about people you don’t know?

This isn’t my problem. It isn’t my gender’s problem. It’s yours.

We live in a world where women are judged if they’re too smiley or if they don’t smile enough. The chipper woman, grinning ear to ear, is vapid and too nice. People don’t take her seriously. The “stern” looking woman with the serious expression is a bossy bitch. We simply can’t win, so I’m suggesting that we stop trying.

My emotions, our emotions, are ours alone. In much the same way we have sole ownership of our bodies, we also own the singular right to emotional expression.

However, if you walk up to me and say anything to me about the expression I have on my face; expect an explosive reaction. And I’d like to encourage other women to do the same.

My fellow women, let’s stop rewarding this behavior. Stop smiling awkwardly when some man you don’t know insists upon it.

You don’t owe anyone anything. You are not a prop or an object to be casually manipulated, and you certainly don’t deserve to have some stranger erase your autonomy or the gravity of your experiences.

It is not your job to please the world.

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