By Shannon Riddle, member of Sensible Shoes and SWC
Maybe it ought to be insulting when, in being asked to write a blog post on "Resting Bitch Face," you're told you were the first person to come to mind.
But it's not.
Resting Bitch Face, or RBF, is both a cultural phenomenon and the refrain from "Happy Camper," a song written by Eric Lane Barnes for Sensible Shoes in our upcoming CAMP concert (watch us rehearse the song here). If you’re not a connoisseur of the internet and pop culture: RBF is a term used to refer to a woman who, when not intentionally expressing any emotion, has a face that looks…well, bitchy. The song is about a collection of teenage girls with RBF bad enough that everyone around them thinks they have an attitude problem, so they're sent to a detention camp. Yikes.
The song is clever and funny, but it touches on a less-funny issue. RBF, while it tends to be worn as a badge of honor, has the darker implication that women are expected to smile all the time, and that anything less makes them a “bitch.” Yes, it can be used to refer to a man, too, but even just using the term “bitch” makes the tone and intended recipient (and their gender) pretty clear. And besides, with the way the world tends to describe men, it would probably be called Resting Assertive Face or Resting Leadership Face. Men hardly even smile in pictures, yet no one calls them bitches.
But that’s not what “Happy Camper” is about. All teenagers are figuring out who they are in the world, and the easiest route is to take on the mantel of all the stereotypes people put on you. But being called a bitch? Or a hoodlum? In this song, the young ladies in question band together and, instead of taking the easier path, they learn to own who they really are. And that includes their RBF.
I have a 6 month old girl, and she already has a serious case of RBF and refuses to smile for strangers, so she has a long road ahead of her. But I’m proud of her. She’s not set dressing for everyone else’s movie, she’s the star of her own. She doesn’t exist to be beautiful for others or put them at ease, she’s going to do so many amazing things that reducing her to whether or not she smiles for strangers is laughable. Of course, that’s because she’s the greatest, smartest, funniest, strongest, cutest baby in the world, with or without Baby RBF. But she ought to own it, from babyhood on.
So own your Resting Badass Face. Your Resting Bold Face. Your Resting Beautiful Face. And if anyone tries to make you feel bad for not smiling?