Let me start this off by saying that I have nothing against smiling. I love smiling. I love to laugh. I smile when people are nice to me, I smile at people in the halls if I recognize them, and I smile at my coffee shop barista. I laugh when someone tells an amusing anecdote or a bad (but hilarious) pun. I even laugh when my clumsy self runs into walls or trips over nothing in the middle of the hall. However, I don’t have a natural smile or a laugh on my face twenty-four-seven. If you see me walking down the street with a pensive, monotonous look on my face, it’s because I’m probably thinking heavily, or not really thinking at all. My mouth, in its natural state, is not naturally upturned. It’s not down turned either.
It’s always been like this. Ever since I was a small girl, visiting my grandparents’ house, my grandpa would always look at me and say, “Why are you so sad? Smile!” He didn’t understand that I wasn’t sad. I was just…okay! Not sad, not happy, not anything in particular, but just there. “I’m not sad!” I’d always reply, as I tried to muster a smile so that he’d get off my case. It got annoying after a while because it seemed like he was making me act in a specific, tailored way, with an ever-present smile on my face.
It’s especially annoying and even uncomfortable when people, (strangers!) pass me by and command, “Smile! You’re beautiful!” If you’re trying to be nice, thank you! Thanks for complimenting me, and for your good intentions. However, please don’t tell me to smile!
First of all, why equate beauty to smiling? I cannot have a smile plastered on my face all day, every day. It’s not my responsibility to the world to smile cheerfully as I walk though the halls or to maintain my ‘beauty’ with a grin on my face. Sometimes, I do smile when I walk around, but it’s mostly because something provoked it – maybe a funny text, or remembering something that happened at work five hours before. I’m not opposed to happiness or smiling, but something ought to incite my happiness and put a genuine grin on my face afterwards. Just don’t tell me to do it on your command.
Now, how about the times that I do feel sad or angry, and have legitimate excuses to have a frown or pout on my face? Am I to immediately forget my feelings and smile anyways?
I hate having to walk around in this condition; I’m a sensitive person and having people look at me when I’m angry or sad often makes me feel like I’ll start to cry any second. But I can’t help how I feel or look in these situations, so if you tell me to smile when I’m walking around this, it will take all of my restraint to not punch you in the nose.
I’ve asked around, and apparently, people are divided on this issue. Some girls say that it’s creepy when people (especially guys) they don’t know stop them and tell them to smile. Other people say that they take the comments as complements, or ‘random acts of kindness’. Others say that I’m being too dramatic with this whole ‘smiling’ business. I don’t think I’m being dramatic. If it makes me uncomfortable and self-conscious, then I think I have the right to be annoyed with all those people. Smile or no smile, I’m doing it for me.