“You look prettier when you smile”
“Smile, it can’t be that bad”
“Show me that pretty smile”
Never once in my career, during college, out in public, etc. have I heard these words said to a man.
I hear one of these statements at least once a week. I am a person who tends to show stress on my face and when there is something going on in my mind, it is usually visible on me – through posture or expression. As I have always been like this, I am guessing this will not magically change at the ripe young age of 30. Here is the thing though, and the parallel I am trying to make, if I choose not to smile, that is my prerogative. I think behind those words, that are often very innocently said, is the thought that women should be pleasant, and should make others’ lives more comfortable.
This societal bias is why (at times) I am asked in meetings whether I plan to have more children, instead of asked about the content of my job or the subject matter we are meeting on.
PLEASE do not get me wrong. People try to relate with one another and family and children is an easily relatable item. What I am saying is that there is often a slight bias behind those comments. To my women readers (hi mom and my sister), ask your spouse or a male in your life how often they are asked to smile. Or ask them when they were questioned in a meeting about the number of children they are planning to have. I would bet that the answer to both questions is that they never have been asked.
And yea, I get it…my face can look a bit pained during my day, but, balancing a career, two kids and a quasi-healthy lifestyle, can be a bit of an effort and smiling is not always at the top of my list.
Is this something that you have experienced?
Also, I’M BACK from my three month hiatus, get ready for some musings from Katie in the future!