Resting bitch face
Resting bitch face, also known as RBF, or bitchy resting face (BRF), is a facial expression that unintentionally appears like a person is angry, annoyed, irritated, or contemptuous, particularly when the individual is relaxed, resting, or not expressing any particular emotion. The concept has been studied by psychologists and may have psychological implications related to facial biases, gender stereotypes, human judgement and decision-making. The concept has also been studied by scientists with information technology. Using a type of facial recognition system, they found that the phenomenon is real and the condition is as common in males as in females, despite the gendered word bitch that is used to name the concept.
On May 22, 2013, the comedy group Broken People uploaded a parody public service announcement video titled "Bitchy Resting Face" (BRF) on the Funny or Die website in which male and female "sufferers" of an annoyed-looking blank expression ask for understanding from non-sufferers. The video features comedian Milana Vayntrub.
Spread in wider culture
The term has become widely referred to in the media. It has made its way into lifestyle and fashion magazines for women such as Cosmopolitan and Elle, and been mentioned in published literature, both fiction and non-fiction.
Hadley Freeman wrote that since it appeared in the Broken People video, it had enjoyed a stratospheric rise, and pointed out that the male equivalent term Resting Asshole Face (RAF) highlighted in this video had not received the same degree of comment. New York University psychologist Jonathan Freeman carried out a study showing that slightly angry facial expressions make other people think you are untrustworthy.
Chloé Hogg, in a 2014 article in the journal Philological Quarterly, asserted that the phenomenon was not new, and offered Hyacinthe Rigaud's portrait of Louis XIV of France depicting his "bitchy resting face". Levels of resting bitch face can vary greatly with different magnitudes and amounts of fierceness.
- Jessica Bennett (August 1, 2015). "I'm Not Mad. That's Just My RBF". The New York Times. p. ST9. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
In that moment, I joined the ranks of a tribe of women who suffer from the scourge known as “resting bitch face” or, increasingly, just RBF.
- Gibson, Caitlin (February 2, 2016). "Scientists have discovered what causes Resting Bitch Face". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
“Something in the neutral expression of the face is relaying contempt, both to the software and to us.”
- Saedi, Goal Auzeen (August 8, 2015). "Do You Suffer From 'Bitchy Resting Face'?". Psychology Today. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Todorov, Alexander; Olivola, Christopher Y.; Dotsch, Ron; Mende-Siedlecki, Peter (2015). "Social Attributions from Faces: Determinants, Consequences, Accuracy, and Functional Significance" (PDF). Annual Review of Psychology. 66: 519–45. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143831. PMID 25196277. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Natasha Noman (February 3, 2016). "Science Says Resting Bitch Face Is Real — And You're Probably Judging People for It". Mic. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
In short, RBF is when a person's expression unintentionally implies they are "simultaneously bored, mad and skeptical," Jessica Bennett wrote of her own face in a New York Times op-ed on the subject.
- Mazza, Ed. "Science Finds Resting Bitch Face Is Real -- And Men Can Have It, Too", HuffPost (February 4, 2016): "While there has been a certain amount of sexism surrounding resting bitch face -- even the name itself is laced with it -- the computer detected RBF as frequently in men as it did in women."
- Grant Barrett (December 22, 2013). "A Wordnado of Words in 2013". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 18, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
Dating back at least 10 years as a described concept but popularized in 2013 by a video made by the group Broken People.
- "Bitchy resting face". Broken People. May 22, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
- Stephanie Shi (June 4, 2015). "13 Struggles Only Women With Resting Bitch Face Understand". Cosmopolitan. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
- Kristina Rodulfo (February 5, 2014). "I won't apologize for my 'bitchy resting face'". Elle. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015.
- Mortimer, Holly (2015). Blindsided. Butterfly Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 9781508448983.
- Simons, Stephanie (2014). "2". Chic-tionary: The Little Book of Fashion Faux-cabulary. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 9781629145464.
- Zach Johnson (August 4, 2015). "Kristen Stewart Responds to Accusations That She Suffers From Resting Bitch Face: "I Actually Smile a Lot!"". E!. Archived from the original on November 11, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
Kristen Stewart may not have a permanent grin on her face, à la Tom Cruise on a worldwide promo tour, but the actress doesn't suffer from resting bitch face, either. In fact, Stewart is tired of people assuming she's always unhappy. "The whole smiling thing is weird because I actually smile a lot," the actress admitted. "I literally want to be like, 'Dude, you would think I was cool if you got to know me.'"
- Freeman, Hadley (July 23, 2013). "Bitchy resting face: must it be taken so seriously?". The Guardian.
- Rene Paulson (September 6, 2015). "Women with 'resting bitch face' are actually better communicators". Quartz. Archived from the original on September 7, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
Research has shown that people rely heavily on facial expressions and body language. Psychologist Albert Mehrabian (...) conducted famous studies in the 1960s that found that interpreting someone’s communication is based mostly on nonverbal cues, like facial expression, body language and tone. Women confronted by a world that automatically attaches negative attributes to their non-smiling face must quickly learn how to communicate and also hone a finely-tuned awareness of both our own emotions and the emotions of those around us.
- "Static and Dynamic Facial Cues Differentially Affect the Consistency of Social Evaluations". June 18, 2015. doi:10.1177/0146167215591495.
- Chloé Hogg (Winter 2014). "Subject of Passions: Charles Le Brun and the Emotions of Absolutism". Philological Quarterly: 65–94. Archived from the original on November 11, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
Hyacinthe Rigaud's famous portrait of Louis XIV depicts the absolute monarch's absolute physiognomic control as part of the attributes of royalty-what I'm tempted to call, in contemporary emotional parlance, Louis XIV's "bitchy resting face".
- "Seen At 11: A Cosmetic Cure For 'Resting Bitch Face'". CBS News. October 26, 2015. Archived from the original on October 27, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
- "13 bizarre but popular plastic surgery procedures". CBS News. October 26, 2015. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
According to Dr. Joseph Eviatar of Chelsea Cosmetic, more and more people are seeking medical treatment to help correct their natural resting bitch face.
- "I created a monster in 'woke' warrior Titania McGrath – and now I'm bringing her to life onstage". The Telegraph. July 26, 2019. Retrieved February 17, 2020.