Gandhi and the Resting Bitch Face

The following story is told of Gandhi, but it could have happened to any luminary of his kind of elevation.

A mother brought her little boy to Gandhi and begged him to tell the child to stop eating sugar.  She explained that her child would respect him more.  Gandhi looked at the boy and told the mother to come back in a month.

A month later, the mother was at his door again with the same request.  Gandhi turned to the boy and said, “You must stop eating sugar.  It’s bad for you.”  The little boy nodded, impressed.

The mother challenged Gandhi:  “That was easy!  Why did I have to wait for a month?”

“Ah,” replied Gandhi with a smile.  “A month ago, I was still eating sugar myself.”


… and the one thing we are usually not aware of when nobody points it out, is our “resting bitch face”.

Quick, take a selfie.  But with your face relaxed, without making any effort to make it a “profile pic”.  Then take a good look.


That is what you look like most of the time!  (Scary, right?)

When I was writing the Solar Wind series, at one point my 8-year-old son came to me and asked, “Mommy, why are you so angry?”  I looked up in surprise.  Angry?  I wasn’t angry at all!  I had only been concentrating.  Turns out I have a terrible resting bitch face.  I’m sorry for all the people who thought I’m angry, or a superbitch, or basically just a scary, nasty woman.  Maybe one ought to exercise one’s face.  Because after a year and a half of dreadful mourning, my face looks even worse than before… older, more lined, more intimidating.  With a face like this, I could become the most hated world dictator.

Actually, what an opportunity!


But I suppose, the best antidote to this is to smile instantly whenever someone enters the room.  Do this consciously until it becomes a subconscious habit.  Maybe I can recover my friendly face before I die.


5 thoughts on “Gandhi and the Resting Bitch Face

  1. I once wrote about how, when one is in a crowd of people as with a mall, and do some people- watching, the ones standing out as good-looking generally have a constant look of cheerfulness. Then one analyses the features. They are often unexceptional; even plain to ugly; it is the expression providing the beauty[.

  2. But smiles can be scary, too. Once I had my portrait painted by an artist whose children I was teaching. My then 12 year old looked at it and said, “it’s not like you, Mommy – the mouth isn’t smiling. You smile even when you’re angry!” That gave me pause to think. If smiling is my habit and if I smile when I’m angry, then I must seem some kind of ‘pathic to everyone. Or I just don’t get angry that often!

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