Wait, Do I Have Resting Bitch Face? It Might Be More Scientific Than You Think

At this point, most of us are familiar with the concept of “Resting Bitch Face,” the recent cultural phenomenon in which a usually-female face appears “bitchy” in a state of repose. Now whenever it casually comes up in conversation I can’t help but wonder: do I have resting bitch face?

The common practice of being labeled as bitchy or unpleasant because you aren’t smiling or sending off goofy-happy vibes are all too familiar for women, even in jest. But with recently developed facial recognition software, the real science behind our perceptions of RBF has been revealed, and it’s fascinating to dive down the rabbit hole of what makes a resting face appear contemptuous and judgmental rather than just plain indifferent.

The new facial scanning technologies are able to detect and assemble a pie chart of eight emotions: neutral, angry, contempt, sad, happy, scared, disgusted and surprised. So, if your resting face is communicating more of your subconscious contempt for being forced to leave the house than neutrality, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with RBF. Face shapes can also affect the outcomes, as often rounder faces are perceived as more smiley and pleasant while angular faces can look more severe and intimidating (but also sexy).

All of this scientific proof detailing the fact that our faces can effectively convey so many feelings against our will has sent me into a spiral of curiosity. What’s the ratio of sad-to-angry am I conveying to strangers on a regular basis?! Is my contempt for any time of day before 3pm easily read by all the fellow passengers on the morning train? A video released yesterday on BuzzFeed showcased a few women with similar queries facing the music of their RBF (or lack thereof), filmed during a meeting with Noldus Information Technology researcher Abbe Mcbeth who scanned their neutral faces and revealed the individual results.

What was possibly the most interesting was the moments before their facial scans in which the women were presented with pictures of two people who have RBF:  BuzzFeed employee Eugene Yang and noted celebrity-person Kristen Stewart. Unsurprisingly, the women’s perceptions of Eugene Yang’s RBF were much lower than that of Kristen Stewart’s – likely as a punishment for her role in Twilight as well as an acknowledgement of his cutie status.

Really though, the unveiling of this science also posits the question: is RBF actually a bad thing? After all, do we really want to look approachable? Then people might talk to you, and who wants that? Exactly. RBF and chill, I say.