She's Really Not Mad: an Examination of 'RBF'

'Resting bitch face' is so much of a thing it's an Internet meme
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2015 9:26 AM CDT
In this Oct. 8, 2014 photo, actress Kristen Stewart poses for a portrait in New York.   (Photo by Drew Gurian/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – The latest meme to grace the Internet isn't exactly putting a happy face on it: It's RBF, or Resting Bitch Face, or its precursor, Bitchy Resting Face, first made famous in a Public Service Announcement parody that's been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube. "They look like they're kind of thoughtfully sad or angry for no reason," says one woman with RBF while another appears to frown as she smells a flower. Now Time columnist Jessica Bennett is writing about her own RBF in the New York Times—which she dissected recently while watching an interview she did on Hardball. (She's posted a screenshot on Facebook.)

According to Bennett, RBF plagues many famous female faces—see Kristen Stewart, Anna Kendrick, Victoria Beckham, and Anna Paquin—and perhaps dates back at least as far as the Mona Lisa, but some women don't consider it a plague at all. "It does have its uses," Bennett writes. "It is great for staring down Greenpeace solicitors on the street, or glaring at men who catcall you on the subway." But not all women with RBF think of it as a gift, with plastic surgeons reportedly hearing from women wanting to correct their "permafrowns," and several social media conversations on the lack of an equivalent male term (though Bennett notes an alt RBF suggestion—Resting this wouldn’t bother you if I was a guy face). Either way, Bennett concludes, "Who has the energy to smile to strangers all day, anyway?" (This guy made $20,000 becoming a meme.)

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