You've probably heard of "resting bitch face," especially if you're a woman. It's an "affliction" that only affects those who are expected to smile and be friendly and approachable all the time, meaning that men don't have to worry about it.
It seems "resting bitch face" has had enough of a negative effect on some women that they have been flocking to plastic surgeons to undergo procedures that will make their resting facial expressions lighter, brighter, and "kinder." I have so many thoughts about this. Oh boy.
The story, which was published in the New York Post, tells the tale of Hope Davis (not the actress), who "didn't realize the hard truth until her pals uploaded a batch of unflattering photos to Facebook and Instagram — she had resting bitch face."
The 42-year-old from New Jersey thought she looked enough like a "sourpuss" in those photos that she consulted a plastic surgeon to see what he could do about changing it...her face, that is. And apparently, this is not an unusual request.
Dr. David Shafer told the Post that he gets several requests like this a week. "They may not always use the words 'resting bitch face,'" he says, "but if I mention 'RBF,' they say, 'Exactly.'"
So how does one eliminate RBF? Well, doctors use different techniques, including but not limited to the injection of fillers into the face and Botox. According to the Post, "the procedure take about 10 to 20 minutes, costs between $500-$5,000, with top docs, depending on the number of shots. It typically lasts up to two years."
That is so much money for two years of contorting your face into a slightly forced smile. Why?! Why?! On top of all that, Dr. Shafer says that although the idea of "resting bitch face" has been around for a while, requests for the procedure have "more than doubled" in the past year.
This could be for a number of reasons. Dr. Shafer says it's partly because of a "public shift in focus from the upper to lower face," made popular by the Kardashians. The prevalence of selfie culture might also have something to do with it.
I would also venture a guess and say that in this day and age, when women are just learning that it's OK to be angry and to show that anger, to not hide your true self, there is enough backlash that some women don't want to add to the "angry woman" trope or be perceived as more "difficult" than they actually are. This is not based on any hard evidence, but it seems plausible.
Dr. Melissa Doft seems to understand that impulse. "People gravitate to women who they perceive as happy," she says. I can't even begin to address how toxic that concept is, especially for women in the workplace! It goes without saying, as it did in this New York Post article, that women should never feel obligated to smile and look happy. Men don't. It's a vicious double standard and it's just one form of the sexism and discrimination women face every single day.
That being said, there is that ever-present tug of war when it comes to plastic surgery. If it makes you feel better and increases your confidence in yourself, who's to tell you not to do it? Hope Davis says, after her procedure, "I caught a glimpse of myself out of the corner of my eye, and it gave me a positive vibe because I looked happy. This whole time, [I was focused on] how I project to the world, but I wasn't paying attention to how I project to myself."
Most of the reactions to this new trend on Twitter have been negative. Many women are crying out that resting bitch face is a great "deterrent" for dealing with creepy men and we should take pride in our RBF.
Comedian Kimberly Dinaro got at the root of the problem with women feeling like they have to change their RBF: "'Resting bitch face' a.k.a. a normal, human 'idle expression' that makes insecure men feel uncomfortable bc women are expected to be robotically elated by their presence even though constant smiling gives us wrinkles which we'll also be pressured to 'fix.'"
The real problem here is that women never seem to be enough and are expected to bend to the whims of the patriarchy for the sake of men's comfort. It's beyond time for that to stop!