If you’re a woman and you have a face, chances are good that at some point, you’ve been accused of having “resting bitch face.”
Resting bitch face — also known as RBF or “bitchy resting face” — is a relatively new term in our lexicon. It’s used to describe a supposed condition that causes a person to appear angry or annoyed when they’re actually at ease or feeling neutral. Resting bitch face is a completely made-up affliction, and it is slung primarily at women for doing little more than having a face and not always having it arranged in a smile. The audacity.
Can 2019 please be the year we put this ridiculous insult behind us?
The concept of resting bitch face was first popularized in a 2013 viral video as a joke and picked up speed as celebrities like Anna Kendrick bemoaned the dreaded affliction. In 2015, the New York Times wrote a trend piece called “I’m Not Mad. That’s Just My RBF.”
And it’s still very much a thing today. Hundreds of products on Amazon tout resting bitch face. In the past year, new articles discussed the “science” behind it. On Instagram, the hashtag #restingbitchface has nearly 950,000 posts to date.
Obviously RBF is supposed to be a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek concept, but it’s actually insidious and sexist. First of all, it’s disproportionately used to describe women. If a man’s neutral expression seems unpleasant or annoyed, that’s just him getting to be a person. As country singer Kasey Musgraves once said, a more accurate name for RBF would be Resting “This Wouldn’t Bother You If I Was a Guy” Face.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that “bitch” is an inherently gendered word. Just like “resting tech bro face” or “resting mansplainer face” would be criticisms of men, “resting bitch face” clearly and specifically targets women. (Side note: Resting mansplainer face is definitely a real thing.)
We’ve finally made some progress with regard to getting people to stop telling women to smile, so why on Earth are we still cool with straight up telling a woman her face makes her look like a bitch? The two concepts are rooted in the same idea: If a woman is in public, she should appear likeable and pleasant. If she’s not, she’d better fix it. Trying to add up your grocery bill in your head? Smile! Attempting to …read more