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Resting bitch face

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Resting bitch face (RBF) is a facial expression that unintentionally creates the impression that a person is angry, annoyed, irritated, or contemptuous, particularly when the individual is relaxed, resting, or not expressing any particular emotion.[1][2] The concept has been studied by psychologists and may have psychological implications related to facial biases, gender stereotypes, human judgement and decision-making.[3][4][5] 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 use of the gendered word bitch.[6]


In a 2013 year-end round-up of newly popular words and phrases, The New York Times writer Grant Barrett asserted that the phrase dates back "at least ten years".[7] In December 2012, a joke by Clare O'Kane about being harassed for having RBF, "I look bitchy and sleepy," was spotlighted in a SFGate.com review of a San Francisco sketch show.[8]

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.[9] The video features comedian Milana Vayntrub.

The facial expression has gone on to become a popular Internet meme identified by the acronym RBF.[1]

Spread in wider culture[edit]

Louis XIV, depicted by Hyacinthe Rigaud with his face resting

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.[10][11][12][13][14]

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.[15] New York University psychologist Jonathan Freeman carried out a study showing that slightly angry facial expressions make other people think you are untrustworthy.[16][17]

In a 2014 article in the journal Philological Quarterly, Chloé Hogg, asserted that the phenomenon was not new, and offered Hyacinthe Rigaud's portrait of Louis XIV of France depicting his "bitchy resting face".[18] Levels of resting bitch face can vary greatly, with different magnitudes and amounts of fierceness.

Actress Kristen Stewart. The term has often been applied to describe her resting face, which she has acknowledged.[19]

In 2015, CBS News reported that some plastic surgeons were using plastic surgery to help patients with RBF.[20][21]

In October 2015, scientists from the company Noldus Information Technology used their FaceReader software to analyze the faces of celebrities like Kanye West, Kristen Stewart, Anna Kendrick, and Queen Elizabeth II, notable public figures who have been known to occasionally wear a less-than-pleased expression, and proved that resting bitch face does exist.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ Gibson, Caitlin (February 2, 2016). "Scientists have discovered what causes Resting Bitch Face". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved February 10, 2016. "Something in the neutral expression of the face is relaying contempt, both to the software and to us."
  3. ^ Saedi, Goal Auzeen (August 8, 2015). "Do You Suffer From 'Bitchy Resting Face'?". Psychology Today. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  4. ^ 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. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  5. ^ Natasha Noman (February 3, 2016). "Science Says Resting Bitch Face Is Real — And You're Probably Judging People for It". Mic. Archived from the original on December 5, 2020. 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.
  6. ^ Mazza, Ed. "Science Finds Resting Bitch Face Is Real -- And Men Can Have It, Too Archived 2022-05-01 at the Wayback Machine", 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."
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Kimberly Chun (December 12, 2012). "The Watch: Wake-Up Yuks". SFGate.com. Archived from the original on December 12, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  9. ^ "Bitchy resting face". Broken People. May 22, 2013. Archived from the original on December 15, 2020. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Kristina Rodulfo (February 5, 2014). "I won't apologize for my 'bitchy resting face'". Elle. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015.
  12. ^ Mortimer, Holly (2015). Blindsided. Butterfly Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 9781508448983. Archived from the original on 2020-01-13. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
  13. ^ Simons, Stephanie (2014). "2". Chic-tionary: The Little Book of Fashion Faux-cabulary. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 9781629145464. Archived from the original on 2021-07-23. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  14. ^ 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.'"
  15. ^ Freeman, Hadley (July 23, 2013). "Bitchy resting face: must it be taken so seriously?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on February 3, 2021. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Hehman, Eric; Flake, Jessica K.; Freeman, Jonathan B. (June 18, 2015). "Static and Dynamic Facial Cues Differentially Affect the Consistency of Social Evaluations". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 41 (8): 1123–1134. doi:10.1177/0146167215591495. PMID 26089347. S2CID 11025499.
  18. ^ Chloé Hogg (Winter 2014). "Subject of Passions: Charles Le Brun and the Emotions of Absolutism". Philological Quarterly: 65–94. Archived from the original on April 19, 2017. 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".
  19. ^ "Kristen Stewart Addresses Her 'Resting Bitch Face'". Yahoo Entertainment. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2024.
  20. ^ "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.
  21. ^ "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.
  22. ^ Imam, Jareen (2016-02-03). "'Resting bitch face' is real, scientists say". CNN. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-10.