My heart says I love you, but my face apparently says…something different.


Do you suffer from resting b***h face?

Have you even heard of resting b*t*h face? Resting b*t*h face is also referred to as, “b*t*hy resting face.” Never heard of it? Well according to the urban dictionary, the definition is as follows: a person, usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless, without meaning to. As one active and rocking feminist to another, let me first just quickly acknowledge the blatant sexism in both the term and the definition. Ok, I’ve addressed it. Yes it’s sexist…and yes men can have “the face” as well.

But I want to talk about me and my condition: resting b*t*h face. I often look mean and grumpy when my face is expressionless. I’ve seen myself in the background of pictures when I didn’t realize my picture was being taken. I’ve embarrassingly blushed at how angry I look when I don’t think people are watching. Likely, if you saw me in the grocery store, you’d wonder to yourself, “what bug crawled up her a**? I just can’t help it. I’m often deep in thought or concentrating on a conversation that I forget that my heart is smiling, but my face isn’t.

resting b*tch face
I mean really, look at my face…i’m getting some cheese off a cheese platter and I look genuinely pissed about the cheese. Really though, I was likely trying to decipher which one was gouda vs cheddar.

I’ve lived with this “syndrome” most of my entire life. But I’m realizing that perhaps I can try a little harder to upturn the lines of my lips to make me appear more approachable. Instead for instance, of unknowingly scowling like grumpy cat when I’m listening to a conversation. I could flash those pearly whites a bit more often. Last week I had a friend text me to ask if was ok? There wasn’t anything wrong with me that day but I appeared to be upset…enter the resting b*t*h face.

The only reason this picture of me with "resting b*tch face" is acceptable is that it sort of looks like a movie poster. Other than that, it's an unfortunate moment.
The only reason this picture of me with “resting b*tch face” is acceptable is that it sort of looks like a movie poster. Other than that, it’s an unfortunate moment.

I’ve come to realize lately that my “face” is often giving off the wrong impression with my children. Sometimes Henry will quietly ask me questions when I’m wearing my face. Inside I’m totally content and happy, but on the outside, I look like Cruella Deville. He asks me questions quietly because he’s probably afraid that I’m already angry! I’ve been working really hard at giving my son some space when he is grumpy. I have been learning to let him be and work things out on his own but I also maintain a close proximity to let him know I’m there if he needs me. This relinquishing of control has been really hard for me…and as a result I’m always in deep thought, especially when he is taking his own space. I’m worrying that I’m a terrible parent. I’m perseverating on why he is always in a grumpy mood in the mornings. And during that entire time of being quiet, I’m wearing my resting b*t*h face. He likely worries that I’m angry with him for needing that space.

So the other day, while wearing said face, after Henry had snapped out of his mood, I looked at him. We stared at each other…both wearing our matching faces (what can I say, he inherited it from me)…and you know what I did? I smiled at him. I didn’t say anything…I just gave him a big smile and went about my business. It was a genuine smile too. And gosh darnit…he smiled back…and we ran off into the sunset holding hands and eating all the gummy fruit snacks our heart desired. Not really, but that smile changed the entire mood of the morning. I often wonder if I smiled more, would there be less tension in our house in the mornings before school. Or would there be less nit-picky arguments? Or would my son have felt more comfortable telling me he was bullied at school rather than holding it in for weeks? I dunno, and I can’t beat myself up about it…but I can try and smile more.

that's much better
that’s much better
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Heather Polifka-Rivas
Heather is originally from upstate New York but her family returned to Vermont 4 years ago. They have lived in NYC and Chicago the past 10+ years and are happy to be back in Vermont. Heather's previous jobs as a starving actor in NYC, package design guru at Estee Lauder, and advisor to fortune 500 companies at Chicago’s top business school have not prepared her for her current job today: stay at home mom to Henry (7) and Ruby (3). A self proclaimed foodie, Heather spends her "many" hours of free time preparing elaborate meals, eating out, tending to her garden, canning it's bounty and willing her one tapped maple tree to weep more sap. She is also a mother runner.


  1. Totally with you, 100% (although you probably knew that from seeing my RBF.) I’ve spent most of my life going through the “what’s wrong” “nothing” convo. But now that I’m with 2-6 year olds all day, I too find myself making a conscious effort to smile and soften my face. I’m hoping after doing it enough it will become automatic.


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