What came first: the Resting Bitch Face (RBF) or Kanye? It’s a question of the modern age, baffling physiologists and philosophers alike. If you’re not quite sure what on earth we’re talking about, it’s likely you’re pulling an RBF right now yourself. The syndrome is known to afflict everyone bar Lorraine Kelly and, in laymen terms, it’s quite simply an expression to describe that snarl of discontent in which your face naturally sits when your mind is preoccupied with boring stuff like, ‘Whatever happened to Charlie Dimmock?’ and ‘Did I leave the radiator on?’ The term garnered real traction last year when critics argued it was too often being negatively levelled at young women. The internet erupted. Some argued RBF was a progressive antidote to mainstream media portraying women in a permanent state of ‘I’m so happy and cute’, while others suggested RBF was a direct obstacle to female progression. Charlie Dimmock is due to make a comeback this year with a new BBC gardening show and we're still not sure about the radiator. But, according to The Washington Post, behavioural scientists are suggesting that they now know the key components to create the ultimate RBF. At long last!
Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth, of research firm Noldus Information Technology, simply asked themselves, “Is there something more to RBF? What is the reason that we all react to that face so negatively?” In other words, what makes a person’s neutral face appear surly to someone. Grumplestiltskins: pens at the ready... Using Noldus’s FaceReader, a digital catalogue of 10,000 faces, they identified 500 points per face so as to read the most microscopic changes in expression. The FaceReader logged eight types of human feeling: happiness, fear, surprise, disgust, sadness, anger, contempt, and, finally, neutral AKA RBF. They inputted the most mardy of all our favourite celebrities, the usual suspects: your Kanyes, your K-Stews, your North Wests. The results? You’re not always wrong when, if asking your boyfriend ‘u k hun?’ and he replies ‘yeah, just tired’ to have mistaken his nonplussed face for that of a miffed one. Why? Because the FaceReader also detected some seemingly ‘chilling’ faces as contemptuous and pissed off ones. Second statistic for you: it's not a feminine phenomenon. Well, no shit.