Bitchy Resting Face
Chief and I were sitting at West Alabama Ice House the other evening having a post-work Friday beer. It’s a casual place full of a crowd that ranges from biker groups to white collar professionals. You can bring in your own food, or grab something from the taco truck parked in the lot. I love icehouses because kids can come along to play basketball and dogs are welcome. Other icehouses have games like horseshoes or the beanbag toss. Anyway, the icehouse doesn’t have a whole lot to do with this post, but it was a nice relaxing Friday afternoon and I started to flip through Facebook. One of my friends had posted a YouTube video called “Bitchy Resting Face.” I clicked on it out of curiosity and the video made me burst out laughing. Chief was wondering what was so funny so I showed it to him and he had the same reaction. The link to the video is here.
The concept of the video is a parody of women who suffer from a condition called Bitchy Resting Face. That is, when their face is in a relaxed position, they have kind of a bitchy look to it. I had never really stopped to think about what kind of effect this might have on a person’s life. They were doing all kinds of funny skits in the clip, like a man proposing and then running away when the look on the woman’s face was “bitchy.” Toward the end, they introduced the concept of the Asshole Resting Face (for men), which was equally funny.
But this video really got us thinking. Not only about how the natural look on a person’s face could actually alter their destiny, but also how if a person is having an off day walking around looking sad or mad how it might affect them. It’s like a feedback loop.
It can work the opposite way too. There are days I come bounding in the door telling Chief that everyone has been being so nice to me. It seems to happen on days that I got a good night’s sleep and/or I’m not in a hurry and just out enjoying my day. When you are out cruising around with a relaxed and happy face, people tend to smile at you. And then smiles are contagious so you smile back. And then other people see you’re smiling and assume you’re a nice person and start smiling at you and engaging you.
People with Bitchy Resting Face might feel like they just can’t get a break, and become the Eeyore’s of the world. Maybe they had a tough day or year (or maybe they just have a face that is naturally an unfortunate Bitchy Resting Face). People that see them interpret them to be negative and because of that, they don’t smile at them or engage them or may be rude to them. This, in turn, makes the person feel more unloved and less supported which further enforces their negative look.
This can happen with couples too and reinforce arguments. For example, a man might be feeling upset because he feels like his partner is not attentive to how he is feeling. The woman walks in on him and sees him with kind of a mean look on his face. Because he looks unapproachable, she walks out of the room and doesn’t ask him what’s wrong and figures maybe it should be a girls’ night out to give him some space. When she doesn’t even ask him what’s wrong and heads out for the night, it further enforces that she doesn’t care about him or what’s going on with him. You can imagine the thousands of permutations of the way this could play out.
So I think it’s an interesting thing to note. What kind of look do you have on your face? Might you have misinterpreted another person’s looks and considered them to be a bad person because of how they were holding their face? If you’re having a bad day, could watching or listening to something that makes you turn your frown upside down positively affect your day because of how others will react to you? It reminds me of the concept Gretchen Rubin talks about in her book The Happiness Project. She says to act the way you want to feel. Smiling may serve the purpose of making you look happy which makes others around you respond in a positive way.