Imagine life without a capacious "resting bitch face" today it is impossible, although this expression exists relatively recently. This is the name for situations when a person (most often, as the name implies, a woman) is calm, but others read his mood differently - they believe that he is angry, upset, looks at everyone condemning or arrogantly. The Russian analogue of the phrase - "bitchy face syndrome" - has not widely taken root. But Russians are also very familiar with this expression.
An apt definition appeared around the end of the 2000s. In 2009, for example, RBF - an acronym for "resting bitch face" - was added to the Urban Dictionary. Although the expression became well-known a little later - the famous sketch on the topic, parodying social advertising and already collecting almost eight million views, for example, appeared in 2013. The bulk of the definitions in the same Urban Dictionary also refers to approximately this period - it is dated 2014–2015. Probably, the really large-scale phenomenon became thanks to the flourishing and spread of social networks, and memes also helped. The end of the 2000s and the beginning of the 10s were remembered, among other things, by the Twilight franchise - Kristen Stewart, who played the main role, and today is considered a symbol of the "bitchy face". Memes and jokes about the fact that there is never any emotion on the face of an actress are actively used today.
Today, "bitchy face syndrome" is firmly established in pop culture, as well as in culture in general. Moreover, research is even devoted to him: the company Noldus Information Technology, for example, in 2016 tried to understand how a “bitchy” face differs from an ordinary neutral one. Employees of the company Jason Rogers and Abby Macbeth studied the issue using FaceReader, Noldus' software that matches facial expressions in a photograph with a catalog of 10,000 different emotions. FaceReader studies the facial expression in the uploaded photo, marks 500 points on it and uses them to determine what basic emotions are traced: the program includes happiness, anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, contempt. In addition, FaceReader also reads a neutral facial expression - the one that many people take for "bitchy".
Kristen Stewart, who starred in Twilight, and today is considered a symbol of the "bitchy face"
As a result of the experiment, Noldus employees came to several conclusions. It turned out that in 3% of cases, when the program analyzed a calm facial expression, it read shades of other emotions in it, for example, disgust or sadness. Perhaps, it is precisely such cases that we take for a "bitchy" face. In addition, Noldus employees came to the conclusion that resting bitch face applies not only to women - the program also recognized a neutral facial expression with a tinge of other emotions in men.
But no matter what the program says, in the mass consciousness the “bitchy face syndrome” is gender-tinged. Almost the only man mentioned in connection with this concept is Kanye West: on the carpets, he looks strangely calm, especially against the backdrop of smiling Kim. Otherwise, the "bitchy face" is used when describing women. Not surprisingly, when they talk about "bitchiness", they also mean them. There is simply no male analogue of the phrase: you have hardly ever heard "asshole face". James Corden somehow noticed that resting bitch face is how men look on any movie poster.
In addition to the already mentioned Kristen Stewart, the "bitchy face" is attributed to a whole group of female celebrities. From January Jones, who, according to the tabloids, somehow looked “absolutely miserable” at Comic Con because she “sat alone and smoked an e-cigarette while her friends danced,” to Emma Watson and Anna Paquin, who are supposedly not enough look joyfully on carpets.The "bitchy face" is found among celebrities of various statuses and occupations - for example, Queen Elizabeth II or Hillary Clinton. The latter, for example, was accused of looking too unfriendly during the election campaign. Historical characters also cannot escape stereotypes - they accused Mona Lisa and the heroine of the twenty-dollar bill, the American abolitionist Harriet Tubman in a too "bitchy" and frown expression - she probably had to fight slavery, keeping a smile.
Victoria Beckham - another symbol of the stone expression on her face - in 2015 even explained why she never smiles in the photo. In an interview with Vogue, the singer and designer said: “I smile in the shower. I think I have certain responsibilities towards the fashion industry. " On the contrary, Anna Kendrick jokes about how great it would be to get rid of the unemotional gaze: in a famous tweet, she asked subscribers if there was a special filter for this.
The idea of changing facial expressions to look more pleasing seems absurd, and yet this is what many women are offered. Gymnastics for the face, massage, strict control over facial expressions, special make-up and even the services of a beautician - all this supposedly should help to cope with your own face and stop giving the impression of a "bitch". Unsurprisingly, the idea of wrestling with your own face has become so popular. Research shows that women who transcend traditional gender roles (prescribing women to be kind, gentle, and always calm) often face negative reactions. They may be considered “difficult” and “aggressive” where a man would not be faced with such claims, for example, in an office environment, where sometimes harsh decisions are required.
Women transcending traditional beliefs
about gender roles (you need to be gentle and benevolent) are often faced
with a negative reaction
The idea of "bitchy face syndrome" seems harmless if you do not ponder what lies at its core. "Smile" and "You would really like a smile" are frequent catcolling phrases and a consequence of the sexist attitude: a woman should always be sweet, pleasant and cheerful, and if she does not want to smile constantly, then something is wrong with her. In Russia, where duty smiles are less common (the habit of smiling politely is connected, among other things, with cultural attitudes), this is less common, but it also occurs. The author of this text heard the phrase "Why are you so sad?" many times - in situations where I just thought about my own.
Dr. Marianne LaFrance, professor of psychology, gender and sexuality studies at Yale, says women smile more often than men, but that doesn't mean they are more satisfied with what is happening. According to LaFrance research, smiling can be the result of power imbalances: people with lower status and less influence may smile more often to please those of higher status. This theory can be extended to relations between men and women, after all, there is no full gender equality in any country yet.
The good news is that women today are increasingly thinking that they don't have to live up to anyone's expectations. You don't need to be “soft” and “comfortable” to fit into someone's picture of the world. "Bitchy Face Syndrome" can be a great tool in this fight, as in the famous scene "Broad City", where the heroines, when asked by a passer-by to smile, simply show him the middle finger. “They say that frowning involves more muscles. I say okay, so my face got a damn cool workout,”says Chelsea Handler.
Serena Williams, when asked about her facial expression in 2015, directly answered the interviewer: “It's 11:30 now, and to be honest, I don't want to be here.I would rather lie in bed, but I have to get up early for training and answer questions that I don't want to answer. You keep asking me about the same things, and it doesn't give me any pleasure. " Why not take an example from her.