Cathryn Noel-Veatch //
Every woman has heard it at some point. “You’d be so much prettier if you just smiled”, “Why don’t you smile a bit more”, “Come on just give me a smile” well you know what I don’t want to smile like that anymore. It gets so tiring after a while. Being told day in a day out to smile because I should want people to like me.
I remember a few years ago how the ‘resting bitch face’ became normalized yet still when I’m at work, or out with friends I am told to give people a smile. Why can’t I have a resting bitch face anymore? Why should I have to pretend that everything’s okay? I get it sometimes a smile can really make someone’s day but why should it have to be my smile? I’m not always okay. I, like everyone else, have days when I want to do nothing but keep to myself. I don’t want to put on a fake smile that no one really believes. What would that accomplish? A fake smile, with fake laughs, and fake feelings. I don’t want to be fake anymore. It solves nothing and if anything it just puts people off more and more. And yet there I am at work, day in and day out giving people the fakest smile that I can muster.
Let me say when the pandemic hit, the mask was kind of a blessing in disguise. I no longer had to mold my face into the picture-perfect, peppy girl who had to pretend she was happy all of the time. Instead, I could get away with just raising the pitch of my voice which was a lot easier than smiling. Now customers wouldn’t wonder if they had done something wrong just because I didn’t say “Have a nice day!” without a smile. Trust me when a person in a shop doesn’t smile at you it’s nothing personal. We’re just tired and after a full day on our feet we just wanna go home, we’re not upset.
I don’t want to give a fake smile anymore. It drains me. And when I get told “You should just smile more” it just hurts. Sometimes I get that feminism rage and I shoot back “why?” but more often than not it’s just a gut punch. People make me feel like I can’t be anything other than a smile. If I’m not smiling then something must be wrong..right? No, I just don’t want to keep playing pretend.
So let’s retire that statement. Let’s not tell little girls anymore that a smile is the only thing that’s missing from their outfits. Let’s not berate actresses and models who don’t smile in a picture. Let’s forgive the workers and nurses and doctors, and every other professional who has had a long day and no longer has the energy to smile. Let them smile when they mean it, not just because you want to feel better. I won’t smile when I’m told to. I’ll smile when I think I have something to smile about.