Rest­ing Bitch Face, what’s the deal?

It’s of­fen­sive and ridicu­lous and seems to have found a per­ma­nent place in how we judge one an­other. We in­ves­ti­gate the ‘con­di­tion’ that’s com­monly used to re­fer to women: Rest­ing Bitch Face (RBF).

Glamour (South Africa) - - Glamour Sex -

It’s just too ob­vi­ous. All of which means that try­ing to use surgery or in­jec­tions to com­bat RBF is a bit like us­ing a chain­saw to trim a hang­nail.

Though Dr Rogers recorded RBF in male faces, the stigma gen­er­ally at­taches to women.

“What this comes down to is cul­tural norms and so­cial ex­pec­ta­tions about women and their role,” he ex­plains.

Women are ex­pected to ap­pear friendly, cheer­ful and ap­proach­able. And if they don’t, they may have to pay a fa­mil­iar price: “You look pret­tier when you smile.” “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vine­gar.” “Cheer up, baby.” These types of pa­tro­n­is­ing com­ments are pretty ex­clu­sively di­rected at women.

And even if, as Dr Rogers points out, smil­ing has been shown to im­prove the mood of peo­ple around us, there can also be an el­e­ment of sub­mis­sion to it. What’s more, some women – in­clud­ing some beau­ti­ful and fa­mous ones – may smile less fre­quently be­cause they are self­con­scious about their teeth or don’t like the way that their eyes squint up or their nose flares.

Un­like ac­tual scowl­ing, the ab­sence of a smile isn’t a re­li­able in­di­ca­tion of some­body’s mood.

So per­haps be­havioural re­search into RBF will help bring at­ten­tion to what is still a glar­ing dou­ble stan­dard. It’s al­most cer­tainly health­ier to rally against ap­pear­ance sex­ism than to worry about or try to “cor­rect” RBF. It’s not a de­for­mity.

In other words, bitch is in the eye of the be­holder.

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