How to Not Look Like a Serial Killer When You have RBF

Pro-tip: Smiling all the time will make people think you're crazy.

“What’s up, Serial Killer?” my friend and colleague, G, asks me while peering over the monitors and tiny wall that separate our desks. “Your RBF is back.”


It seems unlikely that the girl often touted as the most enthusiastic and animated is the one who has RBF (resting bitch face) - and looks like she smells something foul most of the time, but it’s my reality. Without meaning to, I often look uninterested - even angry - and unfortunately, it’s not just my colleague who thinks so.

In fact, several of my other colleagues regularly send me this GIF via our inner-office messaging platform.

I can’t help it. It’s just what my face does sometimes.

My RBF was first pointed out to me when sitting at the large table in my Public Relations course classroom. (It was also the first time someone pointed out how “cactus-y” I am when I kindly asked them to not hug me, thank you very much. But I digress.) RBF is a thing, and it’s not a thing you necessarily want all the time.

I’d like to think my RBF is why no one tries to approach me while I’m out walking or running alone, but it’s probably also why cute guys never used to speak to me at a pub or events. It’s definitely why I have to assure people that I’m OK; no, I’m not going to cry; and yes, of course I’m interested in what they’re talking about (OK, maybe that’s a lie sometimes).

I once tried to counter the bitchy face with a big, fat smile all day. Which was great, except I couldn’t feel my face and I’m pretty sure I looked like this most of the time.

The struggle is real.

The truth is that walking around smiling all day makes me seem like I’m Buddy the Elf or a complete effing sociopath. Not good. Here’s how I’ve learned to squash the resting bitch face.


Soften. Soften. Soften.

A severely arched brow and heavy, dark eyeliner can make your expression(s) appear harsh.

Recognize behaviour

Unlike great poker players, I can’t always hide my emotions (and I don’t think sunglasses would help). When I’m antsy or concentrating on a task, I often clench my teeth, move my bottom jaw forward, or press my tongue between my teeth and top lip.

And on that note… ASK FOR FEEDBACK

I decided to ask my supervisor what behaviours she noticed that made me seem standoffish, angry, or disinterested. It was incredibly helpful to learn that I (unbeknownst to me) often give side-eye when listening to someone not directly in front of me instead of turning my head more. Why? Because I’m probably also taking notes.

Solution: I move my head/body and appear more engaged.

Let your facial muscles relax

If your RBF comes from holding tension in your jaw (as many of us do), simply being aware of that tension and letting go of it can help immensely. Channel your inner-yogi. It might sound unlikely, but I *SWEAR* serenity is as serenity looks.


As long as it’s not a plastered-on, almost-grimace, or serial-killer-y maniacal grin, smiling can do a whole lot for an otherwise terrifying RBF. Losing feeling in your face? (I’ve been there!) Try taking a long, slow, deep breath and letting it back out to release that tension and give your cheeks a break.

Practice practice practice

Practice, they do say, makes perfect, which is why I’m giving you full permission to exercise a little vanity and let your inner Evil Queen and stand in front of that mirror. Practice your non-psycho smile, look at your RBF, and practice a more neutral or happy expression.

Oh, and it’s not *just* your face…

But if you’re cool with rocking RBF, you can do that too. I sure do.




RELATED: PMS After Your 20s is Going to Drive You (And Your Fam) Batsh*t Crazy

Ashley MacInnis is a public relations professional, writer, and mom living in Dartmouth, NS with her two kids, retired racing greyhound, and partner. 

Ever the storyteller, Ashley’s spent most of her life boring her family with long-winded tales and decided to put her passion to work by choosing a career in PR and writing. She’s had the pleasure of helping brands and individuals tell their stories to build businesses and reach new audiences and it never gets old. When she’s not typing away on her keyboard, you can find her wrangling her boys into a rink somewhere, running around the lake, or searching for the perfect pair of shoes. 

Follow her on social @imashleymi