29 October, 2017

How I Lost my Resting Bi*** Face

For the sake of not wearing out my asterisk key, I will refer to  "Resting Bi*** Face"  as "RBF". We all on the same page? Good.

Like many others, I seem to have a natural RBF. No one has ever called me out on it, and it wasn't an issue I really noticed when we lived in the States. ...Well, there was that one time, when I was getting a new drivers license, and thought I would thwart the DMV's "No smile" rule by just lifting the corners of my mouth a little. I could feel the slight smile on my face. When I got the license? No smile. At all. It felt like I was gently smiling, but the smile didn't show.

I have an RBF.

When we moved to Beijing, I started using public transportation with tens of thousands of others each day. (I would estimate that I see at least 50,000 individuals daily, simply through taking the subway.) I was struck by how downtrodden everyone looked! No smiles, unless two people were actively engaged in an amusing conversation. everyone looked sad, mad, or just beaten down by life! 
This is MY personal photo - not stock photo from online!

Perhaps they are just reserved. I have noticed that my Chinese friends are less emotional. Less "demonstrably" emotional, at least. But it's daunting, and can get into your head to be surrounded by a perceived negativity.

At any rate, I made a decision to smile when I am out in public. Just to look friendly - especially since I am already head and shoulders taller than most, and an RBF could make me even more intimidating. I want people to feel okay to answer if I ask a question, or to just smile back! 

I try to make sure the smile gets into my eyes, if I make eye contact. Might as well be friendly!

Occasionally it works and I get a smile in return. Most often from kids - they are a great ice-breaker, aren't they? But at the very least, ensuring that I have a smile on my face helps me to observe the world through a more positive lens. 


  1. Replies
    1. Haha! You seem to have lost your "meh" shrug.

  2. I have the same problem. RBF is the norm with me since childhood. That's no way to go through life as a child but it happened. Now I have RBF for life and it sucks when people say that I should smile more. I'm afraid if I do smile I'll hurt myself and end up in the hospital.

    1. I think people perceive "deep in thought" as "angry" sometimes.
      And people should no better by now than to tell others to smile! Unless taking your picture. It can be maddening.

  3. I have RBF too, which is funny, since I'm naturally such a lighthearted, goofy guy. I guess that just doesn't translate to my facial muscles.

    I don't smile a lot at people I pass by, but I do smile at their dogs. What does that say about me?

    1. My intention wasn't really to smile *at* people. (Maybe that's American? Eye contact is for conversation or confrontation?) But staring is not considered rude here, and in a nation of brown-eyes, my green ones get a lot of stares. So I smile!

      (Sometimes I think they don't really notice. They aren't looking at me, just the color of my eyes.)

  4. I have a RBF too. Or so I've been told. I always think why do they think I'm mad. This is my happy face!!

    1. The drivers license thing was a shocker for me. I really thought I got away with smiling in my photo!


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