“I thought you hated me when I first met you…”

Typically annoying CBF remark no. 17, first received when I was 12 years old.

*Insert deep inhale and exaggerated sigh here*

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Oh that old chestnut. The honest answer to this is: If you chew your food loudly, are the type of person that claps your hands when your plane lands/your film has finished in the cinema or you wear kitten heels – then your observations are probably true. You get on my tits.

However if none of the above applies to you then chances are you’re quite mistaken. And you’re just on the unfortunate receiving end of my face when it’s taking a rest. No biggie.

It’s often thrown at me when I’ve been in the company of the said person for a number of weeks or months. When they finally feel comfortable enough to confront me about the ice-cold glare that takes over my appearance when I’m daydreaming. They’ve wanted to address the situation for a while, but due to my look 78.4% of the day, they weren’t too sure of the repercussions.

“So what’s with that look you give?”

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Fellow victims completely get it. We have this understanding. So when we’re about to cross paths with someone that looks as though they’re about to go Naomi Campbell on us, we know there’s more to the story. That it’s nothing more than a mere case of innocent evils. In fact, if we both weren’t so busy thinking about what our next meal is going to be, we’d probably sense the forthcoming encounter and high-five our co-sufferers. Because it’s a tough world out there, regardless of resting bitch face. And girls should be nice to one another.

We can’t help the laziness in our cheekbones. The gaze that strickens our eyes. The perfectly horizontal position of our mouth. Our natural bitch faces shouldn’t be judged. It’s just the construct of our appearance when we’re neutrally engaged. So if you find yourself in a situation, where you’re not sure if someone you’ve recently become acquainted with actually likes you or not, just stop. Analyse the predicament and ask yourself these three things:

  1. Are you sure you didn’t cut them up on the tube?
  2. Are you positively certain you didn’t push in front of them in Pret?
  3. Have you done the mandatory Facebook stalk to ensure that there’s no best mate’s step-sister’s cousin’s ex hate going on?

If you answered yes to all of the above then please, save yourself from becoming the 181st person to state “you thought they hated you when you first met”. Because trust me when I say, the most you’ll get out of that person is an eye roll. And it’s highly likely that for the pure reason of hammering those nine words at them alone, they will think back to that very first moment you entered each other’s lives and find a reason. Because it’s THAT annoying.

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Many thanks to Dana Scully for helping illustrate the mysterious looks of resting bitch face. You deserve a blog post dedicated to you, you alien-fighting babe.

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I’M A SELECTIVE SMILER…

Smiling isn’t on any national curriculum. But apparently, it’s something some folk naturally do. (I know right, who knew?)

Alongside your birth certificate, you’re not given a smile guidebook. When you start school, you don’t have to sit an exam that analyses your ability to express a constantly upbeat expression. And when growing up, your parents didn’t take you to the doctor to explain their concerns for the disappearance of your smirk. You know why? Because there are no rules.

So let me ask you this: Why do complete and utter strangers deem it necessary to request a smile from my face when it’s in rest mode? Just because it made a decision early on in life for said expression to portray a sullen bitch, it’s not an invitation for people to demand positivity.

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In a society where gender equality imbalance is being fought globally, it should surprise me (but sadly doesn’t) that 97.4% of these comments are put to me by men. Remarks for me to cheer up or smile more are just tiresome. Why are they interfering with me when I’m in autopilot? Why does it matter if I’m smiling or not? Why do they think they deserve to see me sport a big fat grin?

Eleven times out of ten, the reason behind my moody demeanour is Chronic Bitch Face. But to all those that aren’t usually a victim to CBF’s glare, there’s going to be a reason behind their glum appearance. And I can guarantee you now, that reason is going to be none of your business. You jeering ‘Gis us a smile love’ is going to be the last thing they need. A bad day, fresh from an argument, a grievance or hearing disappointing news – there are so many factors that contribute to your expression. And when it’s not Chronic Bitch Face, smiling is going to be the last thing on their mind. So how about you butt the eff out alright?

I’m bored of people telling me that “it might never happen” if I don’t cheer up. I mean, what do you say to that? How are you meant to respond when such words are uttered in your direction? Over the years I’ve experimented with replies: Fake smirks. Rolled eyes. Verbal excuses. But now I come to think of it – do they even warrant acknowledgement for their rudeness? No. It’s my face and I’ve come to terms with the fact I look like a bitch when I gaze. You should too.

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Yes. I’d go as far as saying it’s a form of harassment. And Tatyana Fazlalizadeh thought the same, when four years ago she started the art series Stop Telling Women To Smile. She didn’t stop there. Because the issue of street harassment towards women lies much deeper than this. Posters of her work above can be seen around the world, with strong, simple and clear messages. It’s unwanted attention. Uninvited comments. An invasion of personal space. We’re going about our own business. If I needed a daily reminder to smile, I’d just set a reminder on my phone. (If there isn’t already an app for it, Apple, you heard it hear first.)

And riddle me this: Why do men not pick up on the miserable faces of other men? Guys get moody. Their faces show it. So surely they should be on the receiving end to one of your “be positive” jibes, no? Whether they’re fellow CBF sufferers (yes, they do exist – Kanye West) or are just peeved that they lost at a game of Fifa, their pissed off look can go by unnoticed and they’re off the hook. They can get away without having their concentration broken by someone they’ve never met before. But your facial expression shouldn’t fall into a double standard trap. Not in this day and age.

That’s the thing with CBF. You could be thinking about a new puppy you’re on your way to pick up, or that funny thing Lucy did at the weekend or even that meme that was just shared in your group Whatsapp. But on the outside, your face just says vengeance.

In my books, that’s totally fine. There are no laws that depict how your face should appear when in a daydream bubble. And it really grinds my gears (making that look of vengeance intentional) when nosey bystanders burst it.

 

 

 

“Are you okay?”

Typically annoying CBF remark no. 9, first received when I was 14 years old.

“I’M FINE.”

Throw back to hitting puberty. An ugly era for any nineties child. And whilst it’s true, your face starts to change as you grow become older, CBF rebels like the hard-faced she-devil she is. It stays put, scoring a big gold star in persistency. And in a bitter, twisted pot of irony, the natural stresses that come with being a teenager do not exactly scream smiles.

“OH WHAT A JOLLY MENSTRUATIONAL COUPLE OF DAYS I’M HAVING.”

Said no teenager. Ever. Team that with spots, bras and hormones; all handed to you on an unappealing adolescent plate, at the same time boys decide girls actually smell quite nice… It’s not really the stuff that ‘grins’ from ear-to-ear are made of.

And so, girls dealt the CBF card at birth are given as much chance as an operatic choirboy at 13. Left with no choice but to raise a white flag and surrender to a teenager’s moody stereotype.

You see for some girls, neutrally engaged facial expressions have never been trained to be anything more than that. There was never a discipline that we were told, nor were strict instructions provided of what our appearances should represent when inactive with others. Perhaps if that were taught instead of the ancient curriculam that was probably instated when Madonna was a child, CBF wouldn’t be at the epidemical status it is today.

Misery accusations dart around you like a housefly on a sugar high. You would think the more you swat them away, the more they’d get the message. You are absolutely, one hundred and ten percent spiffing. Fine and dandy. However, when it comes to Chronic Bitch Face, you are given no such luck.

One thing we can be thankful for is this generation. Because before a term for this expression malfunction was ever born, you were just referred to as a pubescent nightmare. Or when your name is Mandy, Moody Mandy. Mardy Mandy. Miserable Mandy. The alliteration game proved humorous. But there I was, Misunderstood Mandy, with my inner sunshine totally face blocked.

“Cheer up love, it might never happen.”

Typically annoying CBF remark no. 46, first received when I was 13 years old.

Well, sir. That depends on what you mean by “it”. If you’re referring to being singled out by a stranger and made the main attraction at the bus stop you frequent daily; due to the expression your face naturally falls into when your muscles want a bit of downtime, then yes. “It” just happened.

And whilst you’ve rattled my cage and we’re on topic; your negative observation of my sour appearance when it takes a well-earned rest has just added to my surly external look. But then again, you probably wouldn’t know that. Because that’s just the mysterious game my face likes to play with the world.

I guess at that very bus stop, whilst waiting for my transport to school, was where my battle with CBF really began. When you’re 12 years young and personally ridiculed, those words aren’t going to evaporate anytime soon. They’ll be written in a diary and repeated over and over by your curious, pre-teen brain. But let’s get one thing straight. Waiting for a bus, to embark on a journey where your destination enforces the teaching of Pythagoras and the patterns in plants chromosomes, isn’t ever going to be the highlight of a child’s day. But for me in particular, a lack of upbeat facial engagement meant that no one would ever know if that fathomed any truth or not.