In my mid-twenties I remember walking between meetings at a trade show when a total stranger said to me as we crossed paths, "Hey girly! Lighten up!" I guess this man felt it was his duty and prerogative to relieve me of my seriousness of concentration for a more joyful expression. Perhaps he felt I should be smiling beatifically out of sheer gratitude at being a young woman, let alone one who was striding confidently through a male dominated place of business.
Though not delivered unkindly, his wholly self-involved, chauvinistic reaction is not an anomaly in today's male/female interactions and the memory of it still makes my blood boil. At the time not knowing how to react, I just smiled. Of course I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had told this guy off. But as women we hopefully live and eventually learn to grow out of curtsying to debasing attitudes. Especially ones we all know would never take place between two grown men.
Which brings me to the defense of my female clients. Far too many of whom have referred to their “resting bitch face” as an actual thing they want to make sure we don’t capture during their shoot. I'll tell you right now, I despise the use of these words strung together. As an aside, I also hate the word bitch in any of its current usages.
Where did this self-deprecating sentence come from? Did it crawl off the putrid tongue of some insecure, flaccid misogynist? Or stem from a woman so intimidated by self-assertion in others she could only denigrate it in herself? Do men ever coin themselves as having resting dumbass face? There is serious negative gender-branding going on here. And it also includes words like nasty and mean.
Unfortunately over the last few years, the term has spread like wildfire among the young and older set alike. I for one won’t have it uttered in my sessions. Smiles, laughter and joy are certainly beautiful expressions but they are not the only beauty there is to capture in a woman. There is great beauty in sadness and in anger. There is deep sensuality in showing poise. A woman's grace and gentleness do not depend on the upward curve of her lips.
Women are beautiful in a myriad of facial and emotional expressions. So no, we don't capture resting bitch face because there is no such thing. There is the look of empowerment. The look of wizened intelligence. The don’t fuck with me look. The I’m captain of my own ship look. The I don't need anyone to validate me look. And all the looks in between that reveal a soul strengthened by every day battles, fears, pain, compromise, disappointments and trials at being human while striving to move through life boldly.
I want my clients to appreciate every aspect of their inner and outer Beauty. I want them to see and honor its complexity and duality. As women we have so much more to offer than a warm, personable smile. Even if these expressions might ruffle the patronizing feathers of a few archaic dipshits.