7 Thoughts That Go Through My Head When Strangers Tell Me To Smile


I am a friendly person with a deceptively unfriendly face. I would describe my overall expression as “pensive,” while others have diagnosed it as “mean mug” or my personal favorite, “resting bitch face.” It’s not uncommon for newer friends or acquaintances to confide in me (often over a bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay) that they thought I hated them after our first encounter. Inquisitive by nature (and with insecure tendencies), I tend to press them for more insight. “Did I say something offensive?” “Did I not show enough teeth when I smiled?” “Did I black out and throw a drink in your face?”

I’m both relieved and confused by the answer: “Eh, no…it’s just kind of your face.”

I can’t really take offense. It’s not their fault that the corners of my mouth naturally turn down, right? But I know in my heart I’m quite a happy person. I like puppies and sunshine and the “Happy” song by Pharrell. That definitely counts for something.

Unfortunately, I don’t have those great qualities tattooed on my face. Every so often, strangers question my overall attitude toward life. Maybe it’s a character flaw, but when people I don’t know give me unsolicited advice about the way my face looks, it doesn’t exactly turn my frown upside-down. In fact, it makes me quite upset…and hell hath no fury like a resting bitch face that becomes an active bitch face. While I’ve gotten really good at firing back an icy glare to the randos who tell me to smile, I haven’t yet mustered up the courage to hit them with one of these sassy one-liners. Here is a list of snarky replies I wish I had come up with in the moment:

1. While crossing the street:

“Smile! It’s a beautiful day!”
It was. Also, I wish I had more than five seconds to reach the sidewalk so I could kick you.

2. In a cab to the airport:

“Hey, you should smile! Life isn’t so bad”
Uh…I know. I’m sure you would be super jazzed about the middle seat in economy for the next five hours, too. You know they don’t serve snacks anymore, right?

3. At the salad bar at Whole Foods:

“Why aren’t you smiling?”
Why are you ruining the happiest place on Earth for me? I was almost looking forward to paying $25 for this garlicky kale.

4. Buying makeup:

“So pretty! Now all you need to do is smiiiiiile.”
Can I please draw on your face with this lipstick? I’ll even buy another.

5. During a yoga class:

“Great, now press through the outer edge of your right foot. Good. OK, and smile!”
Nope, going into child’s pose so I don’t have to look at you for the rest of class.

6. At the bar:

“Here’s your skinny margarita/mojito/sangria/cosmo….now can I get a smile?”
You just publicly announced that I ordered the stupidest drink on the menu after I discreetly pointed it out to you. This is my hell. Leave me be.

7. And my personal fave:

“You would be so pretty if you just smiiiiile!”
Bite me.

Ironically, I smiled like a crazy woman while writing these out.