Society & Culture

I Don’t Owe You My Beauty Or My Smile


“No, I don’t want to smile” is a phrase and situation I have debated over the past few years. It’s a reaction to people who think they have the agency to comment on my outward expression when I walk down the street. “Smile for me,” “It’s not that bad,” “You’d be so pretty if you smiled,” are comments I have heard while I was minding my own business trying to get to my preferred destination. I’m sure female-identified people are guilty this, but my experience has suggested that male-identified/presenting people are often the culprits of expressing their opinion regarding my demeanor.

My only guess is that the people committing this think they are saying something nice; as if they are complimenting my beauty because it shouldn’t go unnoticed behind my frown. If this is how you (if you are female-identified and reading this) feel, that is great. The way we individually embark on our lives — especially how we hear/react to comments — is different for everyone. I, personally, react negatively to these comments.

We are trained to look at women as decorations, and when a woman deviates from that protocol we ignore that person’s accomplishments because beauty is our main concern. Also, it’s almost as if we believe women owe their beauty. We see this a lot in our celebrity-obsessed culture. Remember Christina Aguilera’s weight gain? She has one of the most powerful voices of the last 10 years but all her accomplishments are wiped away because of her weight. The article that inspired this rant also used Christina Aguilera as an example and found a user comment about her weight gain:


“Fuck her! I have a full-time job, go to grad school full-time, cook at home every night and still find time to get my ass to the gym. lazy ass fat bitch …”

The same article brought up the negative comments about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. This is a Harvard Law graduate, dean of the same program, who apparently owes us by living up to our standards of beauty:

“Her face is so ugly you can smash it into some dough and make gorilla cookies.”
“So fugly, I’d say ‘don’t even look’!!!”
“At least Medusa was modestly attractive by comparison.”
“This person is disgusting and I would never trust ‘it’s’ opinion on ANYTHING!”

It is not my job to make your day beautiful by my smile. I’m not here to be an ornament on your life. I’m here to live my life, and part of this is to have emotions concerning the things around me. I am not always walking around with a frown. I’m very happy, and pretty much a cheerleader about everything I’m excited about. I have my bad days, and those days do not require me to smile for anyone. I am a self-identified femme and love makeup/expressing my gender with my outward appearance — so I’m not “pretty bashing” (if that is even a way to explain it), but I shouldn’t have to be told to smile when I don’t feel like smiling.


One thought on “I Don’t Owe You My Beauty Or My Smile

  1. Completely agree. Can’t tell you how many times I was having a pretty good day at work when a customer would tell me to smile and put a dent in my day.

    What was worse was when I had an awful day, when I had just gotten a text saying a friend went into a coma, and a customer told me to smile and that it “wasn’t that bad” – obviously he didn’t know what had happened, but how terrible of him to assume.

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