Why We Should Not Tell Others to Smile.
Not being comfortable in front of the camera and lack of understanding for the selfie, I decided to post one. It was, of course, Selfie Day, and of course my selfie was less than glorious. I haven’t perfected the perfect pose. Which way am I supposed to tilt my head? Do I look directly at the lens or give a dreamy look off to the distance? Do I pucker duck lips, giving the world a seductive kiss? Gosh, all these considerations I have to contend, so I just snapped a photo of me in the moment. It wasn’t all that pretty.
I was not at all surprised when I received the well-meaning comment, “Smile. You are beautiful inside and out.”
Let me explain something here. When someone tells me to smile, it awakens my dormant Viking DNA and I feel like flaying open someone’s rib cage and spilling out their guts all over the ground. What makes Vikings smile? Smashing people’s faces, but I digress. I am not really a violent person, I am just not fond of smiling.
It seems as such an insignificant comment…telling one to smile, however, it comes with an undercurrent of assumptions. We’re sad, or angry. We don’t consider ourselves attractive. And as much as I find the “resting bitch face,” philosophy hilarious, it also can ring derogatory. Just because someone isn’t smiling, by no means indicates they are a bitch. Often, those with the “resting bitch face” are happier and nicer than those who put on a smile. Just saying.
So, I gave the smile more thought. Personally, I have never a been a big on smiling. I’m a grinner. My smirk tells a person all they need to know, or maybe guess and perhaps that’s the issue. Many people don’t like guessing other’s emotional status. While I am uncomfortable smiling, others may be uncomfortable with a person who grins without a true display of emotion. In any case, I will continue to be a mystery.
However, here’s the thing with smiling. As a lazy Libra, it takes facial muscles to smile. Shoot, I don’t want to exert that much energy, so please accept my grin as an example of my contentment and inner beauty, damn it.
As for beauty, a smile is not the end-all-to-be-all of beauty. If one can see my inner beauty, why is it so important I smile?
Here’s the thing with beauty. It is not just our lightness, it is also our darkness. We can radiate beautiful sunshine, and be a beautiful dark, hot mess. We can evoke passion in our melancholy and excitement in our rage. This is what makes us beautiful, not adhering to a society standard of smiling. Heck, even Mona Lisa wasn’t smiling. Da Vinci painted her with a smirk and she is considered one of the most beautiful and mysterious women of all time.
But worse are the emotional assumptions, when asked why we aren’t smiling. None of us owe another an explanation of our feelings. We have a right to feel what we chose to at the moment. If we are sad, we should be free to show it. If we are angry, let out a shout. When we are curious and amused, let that grin rip and when we are gloriously happy our true smiles cannot be outshined.
Instead of encouraging people to smile and put on a bright face, wouldn’t it be awesome if we encourage people to be real. We don’t always have to be happy and we don’t always have to show it. We, as humans have a wide array of emotions in which to express. Why does society dictate we have to smile in order to be valued and appreciated? Can’t we be appreciated when we are down, angry, or even just chilled out.