Friends, let’s talk about expectations.
When I’m walking down the street and I spot a Sir with his trousers around his knees, I think to myself, “Lord, someone buy that boy a belt.” I think about this for a few seconds, and then I continue with my day. If I see a girl with a skirt so short I could almost see her lady bits, I think, “Wow, that’s a tiny piece of fabric.” And then, I move on. Never do I consider going up to these people and telling them what I think of their choices. Maybe that guy’s butt gets really hot during the day, and he needs a good ventilation system. Maybe that girl wants to wear her skirt that short, because she feels like it. My fleeting and unsubstantial opinions mean nothing to these people–and I don’t expect them to. Honestly, do what you want to do. I’m sure people judge my ridiculously grandma-esque oversized sweaters, or that I mix patterns, or that I wear brown shoes with black pants. You and me, man, we don’t have to feel the same way about each others styles.
Today, I was futzing around at my desk when a male co-worker approached me. “Can I ask you a question?” he ventured. [Obviously I said yes. I’m not a monster.] “Why are you always so serious all the time? You need to smile more.”
I froze. Oh, trust me, this is not the first time I’ve been told that I “needed” to smile, like it was imperative to my well-being. No, it wasn’t shock that made me stop in place–it was outrage.
Let’s ignore for a second that I am terribly stubborn and hate–despise–loathe being told what to do. My anger stemmed from the notion that this was a statement he thought was okay to make. My face, unsmiling and therefore unfeminine, was such a disappointment to him that he felt he needed to right my very substantial wrong, I guess. But, here’s the deal: I don’t need to do anything. You can continue to live your life as usual, and I’ll do the same, and the world will keep spinning as it has for the past, I dunno, few years.
Dude, that’s my face you’re hating on. As my friend Sharon points out, “That’s pretty much saying you look like a bitch.” And it is. You’re telling me that my face, which is MY face, and has been my face, and will continue to be my face, because weirdly enough, face transplants aren’t a common practice when you haven’t been horribly injured, isn’t good enough. So, I need…more face? Better face? Improved face? Or do I just need to have you draw me a rendering of what my face SHOULD look like, and I’ll cut it out and paste it over my own offensive mug? [Yeah, I’m being a little juvenile. Then again, you’re being a lot misogynistic, so we’re even.]
Now, I don’t want to make this a gender thing. But of the collection of people who have had said this about me, 99% of them were male. I kid you not. A bunch of dudes, young and old, decided that I wasn’t fitting in to their idea of “what a woman should be,” and needed to tell me so I would change my ways (woops, now it’s a gender thing).
I don’t have to smile because you think a woman should be pleasant and smiley and accommodating at all times. I don’t have to smile because you think it makes me more attractive. I don’t have to smile because you’re afraid I’ll develop frown lines (areyoufuckingkiddingme). Bottom line, I don’t have to smile, period. I smile when I’m happy, but mostly importantly, I smile whenever I damn well feel like it. Would you tell a dude he needed to smile more? No? Yeah, neither would I. Because I seriously don’t care enough, and I don’t expect a thing from him.
To be fair, let me share the story of the woman who pointed out my “bitch face.” I do have to stress that she didn’t actually tell me to smile–or even say anything to me at all. When I was a senior in high school, the [female] superintendent asked my then-boyfriend, “Oh, you’re going with HER to prom? Does she ever smile?” Because a girl who looks angry all the time out of habit can’t possibly be worthy of affection, or a date to a high school dance.
Men, women, children, please: can we stop with the compartmentalization? None of us need to be anything. Can it be enough for you that a human being is his or herself?
Gentlemen, a slightly ramblatory [not a word] piece of advice. [I have never experienced a woman doing this. It’s totally possible that she has. I’m only speaking what I know for sure.] You have a tendency to make women crave your approval by planting seeds of doubt in our heads. For example:
“You would look so much prettier if you let your hair down”
“You should wear your glasses more often, that way you’ll have that sexy librarian look”
“I bet you’d look even sexier in heels”
and, to go full circle–
“You look so much prettier when you smile.”
There isn’t a woman in the world that needs to change herself to fit your idea of beautiful. She already is. Get over yourself.
To sum this up:
People are people because they’re people and they’re going to continue to be people regardless of your outdated view of how people should be people.
I’m a person. I have a face. It’s true, sometimes (often) that face is contorted in such a way that I look very serious and/or angry and/or stressed out and/or not in the mood for your bullshit.
And regardless of how I am actually feeling inside, it’s still my face, and you’re either on board with it, or you aren’t…I don’t care either way.
Okay, after I wrote this, I found this hilarious article which is far more articulate than I could ever be: http://jezebel.com/why-i-love-my-bitchy-resting-face-514067148
I love my bitchy resting face too. Thank you and good night.