The other day, I was tagged in a Facebook photo that confronted me with one of my greatest fears. The picture was of an audience of smiling faces watching a stand-up comedy gig, and sitting conspicuously in the front row was me – head furrowed, eyebrows arched, eyes narrowed.
Instead of looking like I was enjoying the naff improv show like everyone else – or at least pretending to like it (support the arts guys) – my angry expression actually
read, “Fine! You can have everything! But I’m keeping the kids!” This was an exemplary case of what has commonly come to be known as "Resting Bitch Face". Suddenly, all the times men have said “Cheer up, love” to me on the street seemed to take on a painful new significance.
The term "Resting Bitch Face" has been knocking around for a few years, but like everything we know and love and hate, the term only became ubiquitous because of the internet. As comedian Taylor Orci jokes
, "Bitchy Resting Face is a disorder that affects millions of women every day." She quips: "Together, we can face the problem.” Orci was judicious enough to temper the RBF with the inclusion of a male equivalent: The Asshole Resting Face (ARF). But regardless of her humour and evenhandedness, the idea of the RBF is a gendered one, and leaves a sour taste in my already naturally downturned mouth.
So, what’s my problem? Maybe I don’t have a sense of humour? Sure, I don’t find London’s open mic night scene, or the term Bitchy Resting Face particularly funny, but I wouldn’t call myself a humourless person, far from it. I mean, I know at least three Frasier
quotes! I think the problem for me is that, aside from RBF’s already dubious wording, one glaring issue is the media's bias in fixating only on the disposition of the "fairer sex" and complete neglect of the corresponding male temperament. Almost daily, the press dole out diagnoses of Resting Bitch Face to celebrities like Kristen Stewart and Emma Watson. If a female celebrity isn’t smiling, she is scrutinised for being moody and miserable.