If you get asked “what’s wrong?” or “are you ok?” frequently, it could be because you have what has been dubbed “Resting Bitch Face.” We don’t like this term any more than most women who could be described as having RBF. However, the science proves that this is a facial characteristic that exists. By whatever name, the downturned corners of the mouth and general lack of expression is a problem. Here, we discuss why RBF may occur even in young people, why it can impact personal interaction, and what can be done to make the face appear friendlier.
What Makes A Resting Face Look “Bitchy?”
There are certain characteristics that create a perception of general displeasure. These include furrows between the brows, drooping eyebrows, and a downward turn at the corners of the mouth. These characteristics often occur with age and the deflation of facial structure. However, younger people can also be seen with a downward tilt at the mouth due to a stronger depressor anguli oris muscle, which is located on each side of the chin.
What Science Says About RBF
We don’t need much scientific research to know that RBF can present unique challenges. The fact is that we are social creatures who are very adept at reading facial expression. Even babies can do this because it is not a learned trait. If you imagine meeting a person whose eyes are squinted and mouth looks tight or dropped, you may immediately recognize your own apprehension at interacting with this person.
In one 2015 study, researchers from Noldus Information Technology put special face-reading software to the task of analyzing certain celebrity faces, including Kristen Steward and Kanye West. Noldus develops software for observational and behavioral research. The FaceReader software provided objective analysis of various faces, noting that those with RBF characteristics demonstrated specific underlying emotions such as contempt.
The problem with RBF is that the face is our primary tool for non-verbal communication. When facial structure demonstrates that we are sad, angry, or generally unfriendly, it may be telling lies about how we really feel and who we really are. However, those we meet are more likely to take us at “face value,” forming a perception of us based on inaccurate information.
If you want your external appearance to match your internal emotional state, you may need to address the characteristics that portray you as something you’re not. RBF can be addressed in a number of ways. For younger patients whose mouth corners are being pulled downward by muscle tension, Botox may be an excellent treatment option. For older patients whose facial structure has changed due to the depletion of bony structure and fatty tissue, dermal fillers may be introduced to round out facial contours for a friendlier, more energetic appearance.