My Smile, My Choice

I’ve been working on this post for kind of a while, but have been struggling at keeping it from turning into an angry rant. You see, I recently pinned a little saying on Pinterest that I think is so important and I have embraced it as something of a blog motto– a blotto.

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.
{The Art of Simple}

Buuuuutttt… I kind of want to talk about something that SUPER bugs me. So what’s a girl to do? Flip it, that’s what!  I did it when I talked about the 23 things a while back. And I’m going to do it again here. Get ready for this masterpiece!

When I smile, my whole entire face kind of goes with it and it always has.  When I was in high school, a friend once said, “Can you even see when you smile?”  The answer: not always.  My eyes get tiny when my cheeks go up, I can’t help it.

Smiling Eyes
Eyes… So… Tiny…

On me, not smiling when I’m happy just doesn’t look natural (seriously, I have wedding pictures to prove it).

stankowski_wedd397
Not smiling on my wedding day? Practically impossible.

But smiling when I’m not happy?  Don’t make me go there.

My smile is mine to give away when I please and I firmly believe that I am under no obligation to anyone to provide a smile on command.  If I’m not feeling it, I don’t have to do it.  And when people tell me to “smile” it annoys the pants off of me.

Don’t tell me to do it– give me something worth smiling about!  Then we’ll talk.  Or maybe we won’t, maybe I’ll just beam at you and we’ll call it good.

Either way, I think that the smile command has roots in the good girl, the pretty girl, the happy, compliant, silent girl.  And all of that is probably the reason for my general disdain.

A while ago, one of my coworkers was patted on the head and asked to be good (not literally, of course, but that was definitely the point) because of my “bad” behavior in the past .  I can’t help but think that if I had I been a man and behaved the way I did or had my coworker been a man attending the meeting after me, the message would have been very different… or perhaps not been conveyed at all.  She didn’t need to be told to be good or that I had acted badly. Instead, my actions should have been viewed as a product of an unfortunate situation– one that, if not repeated, would give no reason for anyone else to behave similarly.

Again: change the situation if you want a different outcome, don’t just offer up a meaningless command.

Asking our girls to smile for us is, in my mind, akin to asking my coworker to be a good girl as an adult.  That’s not really ok.  Because why would you ever want someone to be disingenuous?

Little girls need to know that it’s ok to express their feelings, even if not verbally, then at least on their own dang face. If we note a frown, perhaps we should be asking why. From there, perhaps we could work together on a solution, or maybe just offer a little bit of support.* But what good does telling someone to smile do except to suggest that whatever has caused them not to smile is somehow invalid?

So I guess what I’m promoting (because I’m promoting, not bashing, remember?) is this: the right of women everywhere to express their emotions on their face. If they’re happy, smiles are welcome! If they’re not, no one has any right to expect it, let alone ask for it. So who cares if you have “b****y resting face” as the kids are calling it these days– your face is your face, and I’m sure it’s lovely regardless.

And as Roald Dahl says: If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.

Perhaps we need more good thoughts of which to think!

 

*Or you could try a really awesome joke. Here’s one of my favorites, my sister (the blood-related one, Sister Engineer) made this one up all by herself:

What did the robot say when I asked it to clean my room?

I don’t know, what?

No.

Good one, Ab. Pure gold 😉

Or if that doesn’t work– consider a little song, like this one my little brother made up (to the tune of You Are My Sunshine):

You are my dinosaur, my only dinosaur

You make me happy when skies are PURPLE

You’ll never know, dinosaur, how much I love you, dinosaur

So please don’t take my dinosaur away!

They both make me smile, anyway! (Literally smiling right now! And with good reason!)

9 thoughts on “My Smile, My Choice

  1. This is so funny- I totally relate!! Complete pet peeve! Apparently when I am just “being” -not smiling or frowning or any particular emotion, the corners of my mouth were made in such a way that they slope down (it’s true, I’ve checked). So I have spent my ENTIRE LIFE trying to think of responses to the 412,000 people that have said “smile! It’s not that bad” or some variation on it, and it honestly at this point is extremely annoying. Sometimes I want to scream “it is that bad!! I just got diagnosed with a horrible disease, or my kid died” or something equally awful bc the truth is, we don’t know what anyone else is thinking. Whew- I told you pet peeve! Hence the rant. So I couldn’t agree more with your post.

    1. I love that we share this pet peeve! I was annoyed with myself for a long time for even being annoyed about it. I know you’re supposed to “fake it til you make it” and that smiling can make you feel happy, but I just don’t think anyone else can ask or tell you to do that. It’s not right!

      I love that you’ve assessed why you might look upset when you’re not smiling. I think mine has to do with my square jaw– it’s kind of an angry jawline. Not much I can do about that!!

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