I can be as moody a bitch as the next person. Right now I’m sat in a sweaty nightie having aggressively vacuumed the utter bejeezus out of the carpet in a mixed effort to eradicate the daily plague of dog hairs while also taking my hormonal frustration out on the hardiest of my household appliances. Plus, those with sparkling floors are always entitled to an extra biscuit with their cuppa, post-chores.
Oddly enough, the inspiration for this post was not the grimace looking back at me in the bathroom mirror at 6.15 this morning – it was a delightful little message I received from my new Instagram pal @goodlookingbarbiedoll after I had requested to follow her account:
Sweet, huh? I’m quite lucky to enjoy similar comments from lovely types who follow along with my silly outfit posts. While the attention-craving half of me gets all warm and squishy, the other half feels... well... kind of ripped-off. Why should it even be noteworthy to see someone laughing and having fun?
I absolutely get the sexist undertones and rage-inducing condescension around expectations that women should ‘smile’, ‘look pretty’, ‘be more accommodating’, ‘be good’ or whatever other patronising bullsh*t seems to have been heaped upon us by men – and, most frustratingly, by women – especially in our formative years (and often lovingly by those with our 'best interests' at heart). I love that Resting Bitch Face is now just a face and that bossiness has been thwarted as a concept.
I’m not talking about smiling in the You Must Be Pretty and Affable And Delightful At All Times way, I’m talking about smiling as in – Be Happy, Proud, and Enjoy Your Life kind of way.
Why is being happy so unfashionable?
From Zoolander’s Blue Steal to Mona Lisa’s Uncatchable Smile (basically a pseudo-arty term for: not smiling), from the cover of Vogue to an endless stream of Instagram #OOTD selfies, why is a facial expression that mixes ‘bewildered’ with ‘stuck in traffic’ seen as high fashion, but smiling unreservedly is regarded as kind of gimpish?
Who decided that a stern mouth and steely gaze are 'modern woman', while full cheeks and scrunchy eyes are the realm of the under 13? Somehow immature, underdeveloped, unsophisticated, unsexy *gulp*… unsuccessful.
Taking happiness seriously (ourselves less so)
Surely the things we are interested in - whether Italian food, wood-carving or obscure 80s vinyls - are the things that make us totally and unapologetically happy? When I’m posing for a snap, I’m not performing complicated microsurgery, tending to the wounds of a mistreated donkey or bleaching a toilet… I’m wearing a cute frock that cost me £1 on a fabulous shopping day out with a pal. And whatever your equivalent is, don’t be embarrassed – smile, laugh, revel in it!
Yes there are huge dimensions of our lives and of the world around us that call for seriousness, sobriety and focus but let’s try not to be too confused about what they are.
The benefits are endless
Smiling and laughter reduces stress, increases energy, connects you to the people around you and is proven to extend your life. Smiling doesn’t just communicate your current mood, it actually influences your mood (we all remember scoffing audibly when Some Self-Help Do-Gooder introduced Laugh Therapy and similar therapies to the world) – so if you want to feel a bit better today, all you need to do is smile right... NOW!
It's bloody-well contagious.
A big dollop of love from my finger tips to your screen (I promise that's not as creepy as it sounds). xx