By Tara Cavanaugh
Let me first say that I have a serious-looking face. In photos where I’m not smiling, people ask me what’s wrong. In my passport photo, for which I was instructed not to smile, I look like a terrorist.
I’ll also say that I’m expressive, the kind of person who talks with her hands, and my moods are easily read on my face.
All that being said: Do not tell me to smile.
I hear it often. Brushing past a colleague in the hall: Smile! Rushing out the door late to an appointment: Smile!
There’s a whole bunch of reasons I hate being told to Smile. One, it assumes I’m going to be happy all the time. Two, it assumes that even if I’m feeling something slightly negative, I better not show it. Three, it’s a judgment that says: if you’re feeling something negative, well it can’t be that bad, so get over it.
Of course I won’t be happy all the time. And it’s my own face, dammit. So who is this stranger to judge whether or not I should be feeling something negative?
I’d much prefer for someone to say, “Hey, you OK?” When that happens, I usually snap out of whatever thing I’m scrutinizing in my head and I go, “Oh golly gee willikers, I’m great!” or something to that effect. Because whatever frown I’m wearing is probably due to the fact that I just realized I’m wearing my underwear backwards and they’re riding up. Continue reading