Bitchy Resting Face

The new thing to avoid having, apparently, is Bitchy Resting Face, AKA a face at rest that looks unhappy. Only if you’re a woman of course – if you’re a bloke you can scowl as much as you like.

I have been teased at length for many years by family for having what they describe as my ‘German Face’.


Taken in November 1994, I’m on the left. German Face has a long history.

The conversation about my German face normally goes like this:
Sibling: ‘You’re pulling your German face. What’s wrong?’
Me: ‘I’m not pulling a face. This is my face.’
Sibling: ‘You are. You’re pulling that ‘I’m thinking about something but I’m not going to tell you what it is because it won’t go down well’ face.
Me: ‘I’m not! I’m not thinking anything. This is my face at rest.’
Sibling squints eyes at me in a knowing way: ‘No. That’s not your face at rest. That’s your German face.’

Sigh. Why it’s called my German face I don’t know, but it seems no one else in my family has this. Just me.

So I was quite relieved to discover that this is not something that afflicts me only. Apparently the most famous and glamorous also suffer from a resting face that is less than smiling. Perhaps this is because we grew up in the 90s, when it was cool to be angsty like Kurt Cobain. Now it’s the 21st century we’re all supposed to be wildly happy all the time, but old habits die hard.


Trying to look smilingly enigmatic like the Mona Lisa. Failing.

I went through a phase in my late teens of attempting to create a resting face that gave me something akin to an enigmatic smile a la the Mona Lisa. Honestly, it just hurt my cheeks. Whoever said it takes more muscles to frown than to smile didn’t take into account the fact that that means fewer muscles working against gravity (a potent force). It takes a lot of effort to maintain a permanent enigmatic smile.

Instead, I decided to embrace my resting face. Perhaps I look mysteriously brooding in a Mr Rochester or a Mr Darcy kind of way. But I guess that’s the thing – men are allowed to look brooding. When women look brooding it’s called Bitchy Resting Face.


He is brooding. I have BRF. The cruelties of gender discrimination…

Anyway, my family called it years before BRF became a ‘thing’, and I’m proud of my face when it’s at rest. You can assume I’m thinking dark and unspeakable thoughts behind it or not. It’s my face – there’s nothing I can do about it.

I am digging your garden. Or burying a body. You decide.

I am digging your garden. Or burying a body. You decide.


6 responses to “Bitchy Resting Face

  1. Love this post! Very funny 🙂 It’s always interesting to see how differently men and women are compared. I definitely suffer from BRF, as most days I hear “What’s wrong?” all day long. Too bad BRF is hard to avoid!

  2. Nice post. I suffer from BRF too, I think.. I have never been called out on it though.

    Been reading your blog a while now… so thought of stopping to say hi instead of just ‘liking’ the post.

    • Thanks for saying hi! Though I appreciate the likes too. I think we pretty much all have BRF…

  3. Thank you for your post about BRF. I’m taking from it permission to stop worrying that I am not looking “classy and fabulous” as Coco Chanel suggests that women be all the time. Whew, what a relief!

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