Who would have thought “smile” would become so controversial?
By now we should all know it’s not cool for men to tell women to smile. It’s a power play, invasive, condescending and down right sexist. If you don’t know, please look it up. There are plenty of articles of men telling women, from Hillary Clinton to Simone Biles, to smile; it is unacceptable and needs to stop.
Most women, at some point, have been told to smile by strangers, usually men. But isn't smiling natural? Not for all. Smiling doesn't come easy for me. I’m the queen of RBF “Resting Bitch Face”. I can’t just “smile for the camera”. It comes out awkward and forced. I need a reason to smile.
When was the first time you were told to smile? Not from a family member, not from a photographer, but from a complete stranger who thought they had license to tell you what to do for their pleasure. For me, it was while getting on the bus, as a pre-teen. The male bus driver told me to “smile”. I was perplexed. I didn’t smile; was there a reason to? I thought it was an odd thing to say. But a little thought crept into my young head: am I "less than" if I don’t smile? That’s how easily insecurities can sneak up on you.
Countless times I was told to smile. That I would prettier, I would look happier. No! No! No! It's my choice to smile.
While at university, I realized a smile makes a difference. I was the first of our group waiting at a restaurant for everyone else to arrive. My friend Paul walked in; I immediately smiled and waved him over. What Paul told me was he was unsure if it was me at first. From a distance he noticed a “pretty but bitchy-looking girl” but when I smiled, he knew it was me; my face lit up and changed my entire look. He never told me to smile, but it made me think, "hmmmmm ... so I can use this face for good or evil." I can let the world know how to perceive me: sweet or bitchy. That was for me to decide.
And it's for you to decide.
After all this, I’m here to tell everyone, men and women, please smile, for yourself and loved ones; not for other men or women. Why?
It's a mood lifter. When I smile, even to myself, like right now, it immediately brings my mood up. And the more I smile, the happier I feel. Fake it til you make it works here. Trust this.
One of the big secrets to looking 10 years younger? You got it, smile. Test this out in front of the mirror and you’ll see the immediate difference. Happy people just look younger. When you’re smiling and happier, you’re more approachable and friendlier; and who doesn’t like that?
Smile to boost your career. Whether on a job interview, presenting in a meeting or on the phone with a client or vendor, having a smile on your face, and in your voice, will more likely further your career than not.
What do you think? Is it time to smile?
PS. The biggest light bulb moment for me happened when my daughter was young. One day she quietly asked, “Momma, why are you not happy?” My response: “Of course I’m happy, sweetie.” Well, you can guess her reply. “How come you don’t smile?” That was a wake-up call. My face affects my child. I decided from that moment on, whenever my daughter sees me for the first time in the morning, my face will have a smile. When I pick her up, I’ll be smiling. When I put her to bed, my face will have a smile. I didn’t want my beloved child's mood to be impacted by my RBF. A smile is a powerful thing. And the power is all yours.