By Jennifer Craven
I was recently sitting at a red light on my morning commute when my brother called my cell phone.
“Dude, I’m right in front of you at this red light,” he said. “You OK? You look like you’re pissed at the world.”
I looked ahead and saw his hand waving backwards through the windshield.
“I’m totally fine,” I replied. “In a great mood, actually!”
“Oh, must just be your RBF. Talk to ya later.”
Thanks, lil bro, for checking on me. But this is not an isolated incident. I can count on my hands (and feet) how many times I’ve been told I have a serious case of Resting Bitch Face. And guess what? I know I do. But guess what else? I can’t help it. As Gaga would say…Baby, I was born this way.
The world wide web offers a plethora of definitions for this predominantly-female condition:
“A facial expression that unintentionally appears as if a person is angry, annoyed, irritated, or contemptuous, particularly when the individual is relaxed, resting or not expressing any particular emotion.”
“A sullen or scowling expression attributed to or unconsciously adopted by a person when in repose.”
“A person, usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless, without meaning to.”
Here’s how I define it: My face.
Chances are, what others perceive as cold-hearted bitchiness is actually just me thinking about the 4000 items on my to-do list, wondering what’s going to happen on the next season of The Handmaid’s Tale, or straight up mentally checking out from life for a hot minute.
Nonetheless, I get it. I’ve caught a glimpse of my RBF in the mirror before and surprised even myself. Dayum! The furrowed brow, the slight downward grimace. Yeah, it ain’t pretty. But what can I say? I don’t mean to look mean. In fact, I consider myself a relatively happy person—whose cheerful disposition just needs a break from time to time.
My brother isn’t the only one who likes to point out the truth about my RBF.
“I thought you were going to be a huge bitch before I got to know you,” one of my coworkers recently admitted.
“I was super intimidated by you at first,” said one of my closest friends.
We laugh about it now because they know how opposite these statements are from my true personality. RBF also plays a role in my job as a college instructor. “You can look kind of…intense,” one student told me. “We’re the most nervous to give presentations in your class because we can never tell what you’re thinking based on your facial expression.” The truth? I’m genuinely listening and focused! Wouldn’t it be creepier if I were sitting there for 20 minutes with a goofy smile on my face?
RBF is an unconscious expression, but I’ve tried to consciously be aware of it. I’ll occasionally notice my face in some sort of scowl, and I force myself to relax my muscles and soften my jaw. But ten minutes later…I’m scowling again. What can I say…?
So here’s the deal, peeps. The next time you see an otherwise normal-ish looking person with RBF from hell, remember that it might just be the face her mama gave her. Don’t shy away from RBF gals (we need friends too!), but instead, approach and start a convo. Trust me, chances are that RBF will melt away—maybe.
To my fellow RBF ladies, embrace it. Own it. Laugh about it. Use it to your advantage—and pray to God it doesn’t pass to your offspring. But hey, there’s good news: if RBF helps prevent wrinkles, you’ll be looking like the fountain of youth by the time you hit old age.
About the Author
Jennifer is a mom to three young children who enjoy leaving socks around the house and dropping goldfish on the floor. Her work can be found at The Washington Post, Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, Motherly, and Huffington Post.