I’m pretty sure I have resting bitch face. It’s a real thing. It even has a Wikipedia page. But I’ve never felt bad about it. Since I was a teenager, people have been telling me to stop frowning and smile. My mother said, If you don’t stop frowning, your face will stay like that forever. She was right. I furrow my eyebrows when I think. Now my wrinkles are like railroad tracks across my forehead. And I wouldn’t trade them for a minute. They are the real me.
When I’m sitting in silence on a park bench or a barstool, and someone tells me to smile, I feel like they’re telling me to hide my state of mind, as though I have an obligation to be happy and they’re entitled to see me grin. I’m convinced I attract this remark because I’m female. All females are on display all the time. The whole idea of resting bitch face is proof. Even when we’re at rest, we’re subject to criticism for how we look.
Of course, there’s a cure for resting bitch face. Millions of women are buying Botox, spending billions of dollars on treatments. I saw a TV commercial that showed 20-something women worried about their face lines, lines that weren’t old enough to qualify as wrinkles, but were portrayed as a source of shame. According to the commercial, after Botox these young women were miraculously more confident in themselves, a remedy years of psychotherapy might fail to achieve.
I read a news story about a 35ish woman in Texas who burglarized a salon with an electric saw to steal her wrinkle treatments. On Instagram I see many women with that telltale bubble face, shining smooth foreheads and plump lips. They all look the same, perfect as plastic dolls. I went to the bakery and the young woman who served my quiche had one of those inflated faces. Her lips and her eyebrows were the only thing that moved when she spoke, the rest of her face was a mask frozen in place. Soon a girl’s menstruation party will include gift certificates for Botox along with her first tampons. You’re never too young to fear aging.
These lifelong Botox babes will be pioneering cosmetic treatments that haven’t been invented yet. No one knows how decades of neurotoxins will change a woman’s face muscles, her skin and her brain. One theory is that after 20 or 30 years of injections her face nerves will die, resulting in permanent paralysis. Her unused face muscles will atrophy, droop and sag in a phenomenon known as avalanche syndrome, where her flaccid tissue slides down on itself until her eyebrows become sideburns and her lips flap like café curtains, unable to enunciate half the alphabet. It’s a high price to pay for beauty. More than I can afford. So I think I’ll just stick with the woke woman face I already have. Frowning keeps my face muscles in shape to speak my mind.