There is something painfully organic about Mondays. From the moment my alarm goes off, I’m anxiously waiting for 5 O’ Clock. I’m always ready to get Monday done and over with. So after a particularly trying Monday I was elated to leave work. As I made my way to the train, I heard a man trying to gain my attention, “Smile girl. You’re too pretty not to smile.”
The devil horns came out in full force. My eyes were red and I was ready to breathe fire like the dragon I suddenly morphed into. “Shut up! Don’t tell me to smile!” Shocked and scared, he scurried away.
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What is it with men feeling the need to tell women to smile? I was beyond annoyed and angry. How dare this man give me an order on how to conduct myself!?
While on the train, still pissed, I realized this isn’t new. From birth, little girls are taught to smile. We’re taught to smile during school photos, prom, dance recitals and other social gatherings. Smiling is considered feminine, becoming and welcoming. But it isn’t the smile that’s the problem, it’s what the smile represents.
In the male dominated society we live in, women are supposed to smile through it all and leave no evidence life may be coming undone. We’re suppose to smile through the hurt. When we’ve encountered sexism at the office, or have been solicited for the umpteenth time by a guy on the street, we’re suppose to smile and mosey on about our business. Unlike men who get to proudly showcase anger, you know, that emotion on a woman that isn’t always “attractive.”
But did you hear the comment? “You’re too pretty to not smile.” So swamp donkeys get the opportunity to walk down the street regularly, but I have to be Mary Poppins 24/7?
Sometimes women don’t smile because they’re thinking. Sometimes women don’t smile because they’re confused, or need to get their bearings as they try to undo the tangled mess of their earplugs before connecting it to their smart phone while holding their caramel macchiato. That balancing act alone takes focus!
Sometimes women don’t smile because smiling is often seen as welcoming and dammit, we don’t always want to talk to people! And to be even more frank, sometimes women don’t smile because (wait for it) we’re having a bad day…and that’s okay!
But it’s the audacity that some men think they can just fire off an order to a woman and she should just snap to, that annoys me. On top of the countless male relationship experts commenting on how we should carry ourselves, men have been under the belief they now can make comments about our physical appearance, even if its as small as a smile, as if they’re doing us a favor.
A man telling a woman to smile isn’t for her benefit, it’s for his benefit! Me not smiling doesn’t mean Nationwide isn’t on my side, or I won’t save 15 percent or more on car insurance by switching to Geico. Me, or any other woman opting not to smile disturbs a man’s visual of how he wants to picture that woman walking by.
And to take it one step further the “you’re too pretty not to smile” is also the last ditch effort in trying to approach a woman. While a woman with a bright smile is beautiful, a smiling woman is also a safe woman. It’s a lot easier for a man to work his charm with a chick who’s cheesing than a woman with a straight face.
Do not tell me to smile! I am a grown woman who deals with adult issues and while 80 percent of the time my life is grand, I’m allowed the other 20 percent to be angry, sad, or any other emotion but happy and I don’t need to front about it.
What do you do when a man tells you to smile?
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