“This morning my housemate, Mer, and I had a conversation about Facial expressions and how the outward appearance of ones’ facial expression can change how we perceive or respond in a conversation. She mentioned one word she had heard for the “stone face” without a smile was “bitchface”. (I may be wrong, I don’t recall seeing a stone face with a smile…)
Have you had an occasion to be in conversation with someone, or seeing someone in their car or walking down the street, who has an expression that says “don’t” “talk to me or if you do I will bite your head off, or that whatever you are saying is totally wrong?
I started to reflect on other faces I have seen when out in the world, for instance, my own face when I am in the car, may seem to look mean and so when I glance in the direction of another driver and peek at their face, I see what may appear to be a mean looking expression. When in a store as I approach a customer service rep, I am seeking the face that invites me to continue the approach so that my question is answered. Interestingly, as I approach, I notice if I have my “game face” on to be inclusive.
However, in reality we are often surprised, and relieved, when that person, who we perceived as having a distorted facial expression, bowls us over with love and kindness, or a host of other emotions that we had no clue existed as we viewed their face.
This conversation took me back to my career as a Flight Attendant. Passengers often commented, if I was not smiling, that I looked mean. And here is what really fascinated me; the times when I know I wasn’t smiling and I felt I exhibited a “bitchface”. I was, as one friend commented, “doing my job”, and being very business-like, so not smiling was ok. What would often occur is that I might see a few passengers in the airport going to their next flight or as they deplaned comment how much they enjoyed the flight and that I had been really great. This really floored me b/c I felt my expression showed “mean” during the flight and even though I wasn’t mean, it was a surprise to learn they enjoyed the flight despite how I felt my face looked.
Probably there are a myriad reasons we have these expressions, we carry so much around in our heads that we are simply not paying attention to our facial expression. Also, Gravity …when I look at the natural lines of my face when smiling and not smiling, the “not smiling” makes it easy to see how the muscles sag.
When we are always in motion we may not really pay attention to what people see or feel when they look at our expressions. Smiling is like a light switch. We are suddenly flooded with brightness that seems to touch the nervous system and usually affects everyone around us simultaneously!
What a treat to us all..so sometimes if you happen to glance over into my car and see me practicing my smile in the rear view mirror, I’m turning on my lights as little kids do when they first discover the light switch, and sometimes it is to try to reverse the effects of gravity, either way it makes me happy to smile and that is key…
2017 was a wonderful year even if things were sometimes upside down. I am smiling now and will go into 2018 with a smile of graciousness and resolve to keep smiling.” ~ Cha Roberts – AromaEducators