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Suffering from RBF (Resting Bitch Face)

I've been thinking about writing this post for a while now and thought it was about time I just got on with it. If you're a little confused why I've decided to write about Resting Bitch Face (or RBF for short) please bear with me. Just in case you've never actually come across the term RBF before this is when somebody has a naturally miserable, angry or 'bitchy' neutral face. By neutral face I mean when you're not smiling, laughing, frowning or adopting any kind of facial expression. Although RBF is not an illness or disease or disability it actually can really be a problem if you're unlucky enough to suffer from it.

Suffering from RBF (Resting Bitch Face)

Recently a friend of my boyfriend commented that I suffer from 'particularly strong RBF'. I don't think he meant to be particularly tactless, but it did get to me because he's right and it causes me problems and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. My boyfriend (who I've been with for 11 years now) regularly likes to comment that when we first met I sat and glared at him while he was talking and every single time I point out that actually I was just listening to what he was saying.

My earliest memory of this being a problem for me was when I was a teenager. One weekend I was out with a few friends, two other girls and two boys if I remember correctly, and we were walking through a local park, just wandering around aimlessly like teenagers like to do. There was a group of other people around our age in the park, I can't remember how many but there was at least a couple of girls, and when we went to walk past them one girl decided that I'd been 'facesty'. To this day I'm still not entirely sure what this actually means, but I assume she thought that I gave her a dirty look. I possibly glanced over in their direction as we approached them, like you might do when walking past somebody, but I can only assume that she took my neutral face as being 'facesty' towards her. They stopped us and wouldn't let us carry on. I can't remember all of the details as I have a bad memory but I do remember that although we were talking and joking around slightly there was an undercurrent of threat in the situation. Basically she'd decided she had a problem with me. The jacket I had on at the time was one made of fabric that would ignite quite easily (90s fashion!) and while she spoke to me she kept flicking a lighter on and off. My best friend admitted later that she was concerned that she might move the lighter towards me to attempt to set my jacket on fire. At one point she mentioned something about her shoes being dirty and maybe I should lick them clean for her. I was furious when my friend, who was obviously really scared, asked if she'd let us go if I did it. Obviously I have some pride and I'm not sure what I'd have done if she had tried to make me lick her shoes in front of everybody there. Eventually I think she got bored and they let us leave. We got back to my friends house and I finally burst into tears. 

Something that I often have to put up with is comments along the lines of 'Cheer up, it might never happen' 'Smile, it can't be that bad' 'Has somebody died' or various different combinations along the same lines. One of the worst times for this we were at the pub quiz we regularly attend and a friend of my boyfriend who he doesn't see often had come along. He sat opposite me on the table and was quite drunk. Every five minutes or so I'd get one of these comments and no matter how many times I told him I was absolutely fine or that this is just how my face looks he'd pipe up again shortly afterwards. I don't know why I didn't just walk out in the end (or tell him to f*** off or punch him in the face) as I was getting more and more upset and frustrated, which probably didn't help my RBF situation.

As you might be aware if you're a long term reader I work in TV and film appearing in front of the camera. I love this work, but something I always have to be conscious of when in front of the camera is what I'm doing with my face, or I guess in this case, not doing. If my neutral face is caught on camera I'm probably going to end up looking like a moody bitch. If I'm not smiling or having to act shocked or whatever else the director has asked us to do I try to keep my mouth open just slightly. I might run the risk of looking a bit vacant, but it's better than RBF. I have tried to try and keep a small smile on my face to try and counteract the miserable look I have, but think about if you have to keep up a smile for a long period of time, or give it a try. After a while it starts to feel a bit fake and it's also exhausting.

The thing that finally pushed me to writing up and publishing this post (although it has been sat in my drafts for quite a while now) was when somebody I follow on Twitter tweeted asking why people still walk around with RBF and commented that it doesn't take much effort to smile. The problem is if you accidentally make eye contact with a stranger this is a fleeting moment before you both politely look away again. I always try to smile at somebody if we catch each others eye, because I am a nice polite person, but often we've both looked away before my brain can register to my face that it needs to smile. So then at best that persons first impression of me is probably that I'm rude or miserable. 

If there was any kind of surgery available to try and help I would seriously consider it, but what could anybody actually do to try and help me. It's unfortunately just something I've got to live with for the rest of my life. So if you're one of those people that would say something like 'Cheer up' or 'Smile' please stop and think, and if you are actually bothered about how the person might be feeling how about asking 'Are you ok?' instead.

Do you suffer with Resting Bitch Face? Have you ever had a bad experience because of it?

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  1. I have a serious RBF as well, and I hate when people tell me to smile or to cheer up. Especially on nights out! At least we won't have wrinkles when we're older cos our faces are expressionless haha (well mine is anyway!) xx

    Jessie | allthingsbeautiful-x

    1. Actually I do pass for quite a bit younger than I am so maybe I have my mums good genes AND RBF to thank for it! x

  2. Hi,

    I think my mum has this. Her mouth is always a lower case "n" shape and I don't think she can help it. She will be watching TV or doing something and it will just be like that nearly all of the time. I am always asking her what is wrong (besides her usual illness etc) if something else has happened etc but she normally says no. After reading this post I really do think she has this or something similar.

    1. Yes unfortunately it does sound like your mum just has a naturally 'unhappy' neutral face x


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