If you’re a woman, you’ve probably been told to smile at least 6-10 times this week. And it’s only Wednesday. I’m not sure about you all, but I only smile when I’m exceedingly happy. Which means if I’m not smiling, there’s probably an underlying reason. And if there’s an underlying reason, it means I don’t need a man, stranger or otherwise, ordering me to do the very thing I’m not wanting to do. Commanding me to do something like I’m some sort of dog eagerly waiting to serve is definitely not going to cure my mood. The irony about telling women to smile is that it’s going to do the exact opposite. It’s going to piss her off.
The thing is, men command women to smile in some of the weirdest places and for what reason? If we’ve already established that when a woman isn’t smiling it’s because she doesn’t want to, then what’s the end goal here? People always argue with me when I call them out on this but it’s because they want me to do something that pleases them, not me. Like most women I’ve asked, it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong by not smiling. Like there is something wrong with the way I’m presenting myself. That the very action of me resting my face in whatever shade of RBF I choose is something that should be corrected. Although it may seem as a simple attempt to try and brighten someone’s day, telling women they need to smile is a form of body shaming.
I know the intent of this command is usually well-intended because the people who tell me to smile most are my friends. But I’m often told to smile by complete strangers. This most recent time I was at a gas station on the outskirts of downtown KC. The minute I pulled in I assumed something dumb would happen and when I saw a group of grown men standing outside, I was certain. The ring leader called over to me with the infamous command and I only had enough energy to reply “It’s early, I’m tired” *insert half-hearted smile and curtsy and 1950s social constructs here*.
But why did I feel the need to explain myself? Have you ever known someone who walked around smiling all the time? No normal person that isn’t a closet sociopath walks around smiling all the time because it would look creepy as hell. It’s 2017. We have way bigger issues to worry about. Society needs to learn to accept whatever shade of RBF I happen to be wearing at the time and keep their commands to themselves and their dogs.