Bitch Face: It's a Real Thing
Question: My dear friend is wonderful, kind, loving and has an unfortunate case of resting bitch face. She has no idea she's doing it. Not only does it not let her personality shine through, it's a turnoff for the people who don't know her. What is a gentle way for me to bring this up?
Answer: This one hits home, dear writer. I too suffer from RBF (resting bitch face syndrome) and only came to realize its severity this year.
An online course I partook in recently used Zoom as a main means of communication, simultaneously exposing me to the awesomeness of video conferencing and the terror of my resting face. Even if you're trying not to look at yourself, moving your gaze from one speaker's tile to another means that you almost can't avoid catching a glimpse of yourself (and what you look like caught unawares). As someone who has spent years perfecting her mirror face, I can assure you that my resting face is the opposite of cute.
But back to your friend.
I admire you for wanting to make her aware and commend you for realizing that it's something to be put gently. Avoid stating it in a way that implies you've been mulling this over for quite some time. Make it seem like a recent, surprise revelation. For instance:
A casual bar, not too crowded. It's early evening and the day's last light streams through the front windows. Billie Holiday plays on the jukebox. You enter stage right, joining your friend at the bar.
Friend: Hey pal! Took you long enough.
You: Do you know what I just noticed?! (Spoken in utter surprise.)
Friend: No, what?
You: (Takes seat.) Your face when not talking looks so different from when we're in conversation.
Friend: What the hell are you talking about? (Cocks head aggressively.)
You: No, I know it's a weird thing to say, it's just that I realized it only now, walking into the bar. You're so smiley and animated when we're talking but your faces looks like a mysterious canvas when disengaged. Just a random observation! (Picks up menu as if it's the most normal thing to do in the world.)
Friend: Uh, ok. That's the weirdest thing anyone has said to me all day. What do you want to drink?
Notice how I said "mysterious canvas" instead of "bitch face?" That's important. Your goal here is to simply make her aware that her resting face may paint a very different picture from what she imagines, and awareness is the best that you can do here.
It will then be up to your friend to notice the ways in which it's true, and to what extent. It's a difficult trait to alter—some people are just frumpy faced by nature—but knowing means that she can at least make an attempt to smile more in social settings.
Seeing my hardened face firsthand in Zoom definitely jolted me into smiling more. It felt phony at first, then started to feel good.