Embracing my 'Resting B— Face'

'Instead of working to correct our RBFs, we should embrace it'

It’s eight in the morning. I just woke up with only 30 minutes to get ready for class. I’m exhausted. Whatever, I’ll just throw on a big shirt and put in my headphones and try to survive the day. 

Sleep deprivation doesn’t read on my face, though. Everyone’s dodging me for another reason — my "Resting B— Face" (RBF).

With big, bushy eyebrows that always seem furrowed and dark-circled, wide black eyes, my facial features tend to make others fear me. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I always look mean without intending to. 

But I like looking mean. 

Intimidating others can be a struggle when you’re trying to make friends, but it’s also a superpower. It stops the people outside my dorm from approaching me on the way to class, and it stops strange men from talking to me on the street. Looking back on it, my RBF was probably the reason I didn’t experience any bullying in high school, too.

The idea that anyone is afraid to talk to me seems so ridiculous in my head. I’m 5’5" and painfully shy. When I speak, it’s quiet. But usually, I’m too nervous to start a conversation. 

My wardrobe is as equally non-threatening as my mannerisms. On an average day, I’ve got pink clips in my hair and a Vampire Weekend T-shirt on. What is so scary about me remains a mystery. 

I believe I have RBF. There's even a website to test if you have it — and guess what, it thinks I do too. Honestly, it's pretty brutal. It scans your face and explains what emotions you portray. My top two were neutral and contempt, which is the feeling that something is beneath consideration or worthless. I don't feel contempt, but my face says otherwise. 

The thing is, though, nearly everyone thinks they have RBF. Unless you resemble Santa Claus, with a naturally cheery grin and a button nose, you probably think you have it. But not being outwardly chipper shouldn’t immediately place you in the RBF category. 

RBF is almost exclusively a dig at women. While there are some men known for having it, like Kanye West, women are more commonly targeted with the term. 

With this disproportion in mind, some women are requesting cosmetic surgery to correct their RBF and look more approachable. While RBF can come with drawbacks, I consider it a blessing most of the time. RBF comes with a lot of good. 

Having RBF is like having another life. To others, it seems like there’s this great mystery about me. They don’t see the girl just dying for a coffee and a nap, they see careless confidence. Honestly, if I didn’t have RBF, I’d probably be a walking talking ball of anxiety.

Instead of working to correct our RBFs, we should embrace it. I’m thankful I don’t look approachable. It’s fun to be a mystery. My best friend didn’t talk to me for two years because she thought I was “too cool for her.” Please —  I was just too shy to say anything to her first.

Having RBF shouldn't mean I have to be self-conscious. I shouldn’t feel obligated to look nice all the time. Walking to class, grabbing a coffee or hanging out with friends shouldn't come with worries about what I look like. 

I shouldn’t be ashamed of my natural face — and certainly shouldn’t be thinking about how my face looks every waking minute.

Like any part of me, I have learned to love my RBF. It’s only natural, so I embrace the face.


Reach the reporter at swindom@asu.edu and follow @SaraWindom on Twitter. 

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