I tried to change my resting bitch face — here’s what happened

Recently, a guy told me that I would attract more guys if I changed my resting bitch face (RBF). As great as I am at hiding my feelings, for some reason, I couldn’t mask how hurt I felt by his comment. “So,” I said hesitantly, “You’re saying I should change myself?” I waited anxiously for his answer. “Probably,” he said, awarding me a brief glance before he returned to his phone.

I was already frustrated enough with how often people mistook my RBF for me being angry or sad. My friends would constantly ask me, “Why are you in such a gloomy mood?” when I was actually perfectly fine. People would often ask me why I was angry, and then get defensive when I told them I wasn’t. I was getting pretty sick of it, but I had never realized that it might be the reason people considered me unapproachable. When this guy told me in such a blunt, harsh way that my face was the problem, I decided I had to do something about it.

I became determined to change the way my face naturally fell. I wanted to become more approachable, so I spent some time researching ways to appear relaxed. I began my research with YouTube videos. Most of the ones I saw had one thing in common: The girls in the videos were clearly annoyed with how people perceived them. I saw a video where a girl gave a makeup tutorial that makes your face look happier by redrawing your eyebrows in a different shape, and using lots of pink makeup. She started the video off by listing a few of the things people have said to her as a result of RBF, like, “Are you mad at me?” and, “Smile more!” I saw another video from the Today Show that talked about how the term started and the science behind why people react to women’s faces the way they do, which I didn’t find super useful until they interviewed the creator of the CollegeHumor RBF video that sparked the whole controversy.

I read an article that recommended apps and books that would help me smile more. There’s even something called “Face Pilates”, which I tried but kept forgetting to do on a regular basis. A dermatology website recommended face fillers, which kind of shocked me. The articles I related to the most were the ones where women talked about how RBF has made them seem unlikable and why they begrudgingly tried to change. I finally decided smiling all the time would be the easiest, least expensive way, but I just looked deranged.

I became so frustrated that my resting bitch face eventually turned into an actual bitch face. I couldn’t manage to change my appearance and look relaxed for longer than a few minutes. I would catch myself frowning, brows furrowed as I concentrated on whatever task I was working on. In a last-ditch effort to change, I asked my friend to keep me accountable. She forgot. I forgot. My RBF remained.

I finally saw a video where a girl said she couldn’t care less about her RBF, but said she understood what it was like for other people. She listed a few ways to do it, like plastic surgery (“That’s actually kind of expensive. I could buy a thousand boxes of Oreos with that money”), tape (“Do you think people will notice?”), and makeup (“I might look a little Joker-ish”). She ended the video by saying all you could do was learn to love it and not care about what other people think.

At this point, I decided to take a hard look at the whole situation. Most of my research consisted of girls telling me to either accept my RBF or to change it. I felt confused and unsure of myself. Something I had never really seen as an issue had suddenly spun out of control. I tried to remember why I had been so determined to rid myself of my RBF in the first place. To get guys to talk to me? To seem more appealing? The whole thing suddenly seemed ridiculous to me. Why should I try to change something about myself for the sake of others? Is it because I’m a woman? Nobody tells Kanye West to smile more, yet Kristen Stewart hears it all the time.

Just because I’m not constantly flashing a toothy grin doesn’t mean that I’m angry or annoyed. Chances are I’m just deep in thought. I’m a very happy person, I love life wholeheartedly, even if my face doesn’t always show it. So after a week of trying to change a natural part of me, I decided to take Justin Bieber’s advice and love myself — and that includes my RBF.