Turns out women with RBF – also known as ‘permafrown’ – are actually better communicators
There’s an apparent benefit to flat-out refusing to turn that frown upside down. Women who suffer from RBF (short for Resting Bitch Face), that natural inclination to look perenially PO’d, are actually better communicators. Research conducted in the 1960s by the University of California’s psychologist Albert Mehrabian gave insight into how we look to nonverbal cues – anything from a twitch of the lip to other body language – to help us interpret what our conversation partner truly means.
While that’s nothing new, it proves just how tricky it can be if you’re burdened with an RBF. After all, studies have found that people are less likely to find those with friendly faces guilty of crimes. Friendly-looking faces are also perceived as more trustworthy. The, ahem, ‘downside’ to RBF is that it simply doesn’t apply to men, unless, of course, you count Resting Dick Face as a legit thing.
So where’s the benefit for women who have a RBF? “Women confronted by a world that automatically attaches negative attributes to their non-smiling face must quickly learn how to communicate and also hone a finely-tuned awareness of both our own emotions and the emotions of those around us,” argues Rene Paulson in Quartz.
“Women used to being constantly misunderstood focus more on the words someone says, rather than their tone, body cues, or facial expressions, ensuring a more effective flow of information between both parties” – Rene Paulson
“We must also quickly develop a strong sense of self-awareness. This self-awareness allows you to adapt quickly in volatile or unfamiliar situations – an invaluable trait when presenting before a room full or strangers or superiors, for example. And then there’s the empathy factor. Women used to being constantly misunderstood focus more on the words someone says, rather than their tone, body cues, or facial expressions, ensuring a more effective flow of information between both parties.”
The fact remains that for those with RBF, the struggle is real. To police one’s facial expressions is a chore nobody wants to undertake, but it may just ensure you’ve got communication skills your toothy counterparts do not: a very particular set of skills, skills you have acquired over a very long career. Besides, to paraphrase Daria, there is something intrinsically wrong with the system of people judging you based on your facial expression. Frown away.