So, there’s a lot of to-do all over about people telling women to SMILE, because if we aren’t smiling we obviously aren’t happy and if we aren’t happy then…something.
So here’s the question: Are we, as women, obligated to smile for people? Does not smiling inherently translate as unhappy? What about the wrinkl…I mean…smile lines that come from doing it all the time? Aren’t we, as women, obligated to look like we’re 24 and fresh as a morning daisy? What about that awful moniker “resting bitch face”, as if we, when we aren’t smiling, are pretty much looking like we want bite off your ears and shove them up your nose?
You see, sometimes I don’t feel like smiling and it doesn’t mean I’m not happy. It could mean I’m thinking a serious thought (Yes! I can do that! Even with my matching chromosomes!) It might mean I’m trying to decide if coriander would be nice in a roasted root vegetable soup (I can answer that. It would.) Or I might have a sore toe. Or my face may be tired from smiling all day long so people would think I’m a pleasant person. Because one can’t be a pleasant person if one isn’t smiling all the time and let me tell you, that’s exhausting. Really.
I really mean that. For a very long time I believed I had to keep a sweet smile on my face at all times. Whenever I was out in public, I kept a smile on, even when I didn’t feel up to it. I’d read things that said stuff like “if you make yourself smile when you’re depressed, your brain will rearrange itself into feeling better”. and “People automatically respond better to a smile” and maybe all that is true but I’m (almost) 52 now and old enough to decide if I want to smile or not. Often, I don’t want to. Not because I’m sad or grumpy or whatever. Generally I’m pretty content with the way things are going, but I simply don’t want to. I’d rather save it up for stuff that’s wonderful or funny.
I hear folks talk about others and say things like “well, she doesn’t smile very much.” I don’t recall ever hearing anyone say that about a man. “He doesn’t smile very much”…nope, can’t recall that. Can you? If if it is said, he’s taken as being a Serious Thinker, where a woman is said to have a constant “resting bitch face” as if she has an attitude problem. Frankly, (if you can’t tell by now) I resent that.
Himself used to want me to smile. He felt an intense responsibility to make sure I was happy in all things, and if I wasn’t smiling it meant he’d failed in his job. So I smiled for him, because he hadn’t failed and I surely didn’t want him to feel as if he had. I’ve seen Hillary Clinton catch a lot of for not smiling all the time, but not the assorted men-politicians, and our current president rarely smiles (in fact, looks to have a well rehearsed grump-face)
So now, I wear my face however I want to. I also speak my mind more. I realize Society wants me, as a woman, to smile and make the World a More Pleasant Place, but I’d rather do that by putting coriander in the winter veg soup, or really listening when you have something to say (a skill I’ve not perfected, but am working on.)