It's one of life's greatest mysteries: the resting bitch face. It's the accidental expression best described as representing slight annoyance, overwhelming judgment and basic bitchy thoughts behind the eyes.
In turn, for those witnessing someone's RBF, the most common reactionary thoughts include: Why are they looking at me so harsh right now? and Jeez, what is their problem? Dickheads in the street may actually respond to an RBF verbally with something like "you’d be so much prettier if you smiled."
Rolling into pop culture's conscience in and around 2013, when numerous bitch face memes shook the internet, the RBF is one of the most unique forms of emotional human expressions.
And since, legions of the frantic facial-obsessed took to calling out the RBFs in the celeb world, of their mates (and frenemies) and in window reflections. But why is the RBF an actual thing, a type of syndrome even? Well, funnily enough, science has the answer.
Behavioral researchers at Noldus Information Technology, Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth, put forth a few questions to begin their investigation: "Why are some faces seen as truly expressionless, but others are inexplicably off-putting? What, exactly, makes us register a seemingly neutral expression as RBF?"
As well as confirming, despite it being attributed mostly to women, the resting bitch face isn't just a female phenomenon (hello, Kanye), it turns out the dreaded grimace has less to do with facial structure and more to do with social norms.
Rogers and Macbeth found used the Noldus FaceReader to perform their research, according to the Washington Post. The software scientifically analyses specific expressions of over 10,000 photos of human faces by pinpointing 500 facial points and attributing them to unique emotions.
Each RBF, however, had one thing in common: they all evoke the feeling of 'contempt.'
Macbeth told the Washington Post:
"Something in the neutral expression of the face is relaying contempt, both to the software and to us. It’s kind of a tightening around the eyes, and a little bit of raising of the corners of the lips — but not into a smile."
The team also concluded the impartial FaceReader detected RBF in men and women equally, demonstrating society's expectations for women to smile more than men. Which explains our dumb prejudices that resting bitch faces are uterus-based. Macbeth added:
"That’s something that’s expected from women far more than it’s expected from men, and there’s a lot of anecdotal articles and scientific literature on that.
So RBF isn’t necessarily something that occurs more in women, but we’re more attuned to notice it in women because women have more pressure on them to be happy and smiley and to get along with others."
So there you have it. Those RBFs aren't the result of many bitchy hidden agendas but feelings of contempt. So yeah, you're right to give a blistering glare back in their direction.
Don't worry if you've been doomed with an RBF like Kristen Stewart, Anna Kendrick, Wednesday Addams, Kanye, every mean girl in high school – fighting your corner is much easier with science for backup.