Resting Pleasant Face

Women have it hard. Remember that, especially when interacting with women you’ve never met before in strange places.

A little empathy goes a long way.

Consider, are you walking a little too close for comfort behind her at night? Instead, maybe cross the street to give her some peace of mind.

Is she minding her own business, keeping to herself, and just going about her day without making eye contact? Try this: maybe not try to talk to her on public transportation, especially if she’s listening to music.

Has she spoken to you first? If not, please do not catcall her on the street and call out to her. Even if you’re complimenting her, it will likely feel uncomfortable and is unwanted attention. Sorry. Even if you’re the Nice Guy, I don’t want to hear it. No one does.

Be considerate, be kind. What you might perceive as a one-time interaction is what women go through constantly, on a daily basis—a continuous need to be on high-alert, paying attention and planning out the best strategies to avoid danger if interactions with men go south.

Thank you.

Resting Pleasant Face

Originally posted in the September 2015 edition of the CU Denver Advocate.

I have an approachable appearance. My features are fair, soft, and for whatever reason, extremely friendly looking—especially to strangers who come up to me on public transportation. I struggle with resting pleasant face.

Each week I have a new story with the same theme. It’s usually a light rail ride that was accompanied by conversations with strangers, often unwanted and unprompted, not to mention lengthy. And every experience brings on a lecture from my loved ones. My roommate tells me to “get mean.” My boyfriend reminds me to shove headphones in my ear cavities. My parents ask me if my pepper spray needs a refill.

I eat up every word, and do my best to follow their advice. Sure, I want to be intimidating, but feel defeated when it never works. I know that I put myself at risk when I appear too inviting, and my anxiety runs through the roof when I’m in that position. I’m apprehensive, since my experience tells me to be.

But when I’m in the middle of interacting with someone, it’s hard to turn them away. I’m adjusting to the idea that it’s not always a terrible thing.

It’s Me Y’all

Last weekend, I got a call from one of my former coaches, inviting me to watch my high school’s softball team play in Denver for one of their preseason tournaments. I stopped by, expecting to stay maybe half an hour, enough time to catch up with the coaches who mentored me throughout my own career. Upon arriving, I was immediately welcomed back to the field and asked if I wanted to help warm the players up and sit in the dugout for their game.

There was no chance of me saying no to the offer, and I’m thankful for that. It was a wonderful afternoon filled with my favorite people and things—including sunflower seeds, chalk-stained pants, and leading competitive players working toward a common goal. I wasn’t expecting to spend four hours in the sun, but I’m glad I didn’t turn it down. There was satisfaction in being dependable. I’m happy that I couldn’t say no.

Although I could use less stranger interaction, especially when it comes to my safety and well-being in public places, I think I can give myself a break.

Saying yes and being reliable isn’t the worst character to have, at least when it comes to people you know, trust, and care about. As life hurls, thrashes, or even just softly continues along, remember to stay safe but stay true to who you are.

4 thoughts on “Resting Pleasant Face

  1. This a terrific post! Well written! I like the phrase “resting pleasant face.” Never heard of that. Did u cone up with it? It makes perfect sense. You do a good job of explaining the down and upside to RPF. I’m just curious if you think this a serious problem or a mere nuisance from time to time. It’s perhaps easy for me to say this but, in a world where people are increasingly isolating themselves through things like headphones, it seems that being approachable could be considered a beautiful quality; especially in the western world where it seems people are starving for connection. Of course, one must be vigilant about safety. Very nice post!


    1. It was actually a play on words; the usual phrase is “resting b*tch face,” which has become a really popular slang and acronym (RBF). So kinda clever, mostly not. 🙂 And honestly, a few times my safety was seriously at risk—it seems like an indictment of an overarching problem for women everywhere: if you look approachable, you’re likely to get more unwarranted attention. And sometimes that attention is really unpleasant. However, I see exactly what you mean about technology and disappearing into it. It is refreshing when you can have a nice conversation with someone or interaction with a stranger about a shared experience. I’ve had it both ways! I appreciate your perspective and excellent comment. Thank you for reading!

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