Monday, 17 September 2012

Don't tell me to smile.

On one of my recent outfit posts, someone left me a comment saying I should "smile more". Now, I'm sure, whoever you are, that you meant well and that you were probably just trying to be nice, you probably didn't even mean anything by it. But that comment made me feel quite uncomfortable, very uncomfortable in fact.
You see, I really, really do not like it when someone tells me what to do. Especially when that something involves my appearance, or directly relates to societal standard on how women in general "should" look. I was going over and over this comment in my mind while looking through Tumblr, and I came across this post, and it seemed to encapsulate exactly how I was feeling - and how I am still feeling now. Why is it that you want me to smile? To make sure I'm happy, or so that I look presentable to you? I shouldn't have to think about that, or even acknowledge it, when I am simply showing you the outfit I wore one day.
I don't choose my outfit pictures based on whether I'm smiling or not (I choose them based on how good the clothes look/how good the overall shot is), and I don't make a conscious effort to smile when I'm taking them. This is because I am perfectly content with how my face looks, with or without smiling. It has taken a while for me to get to this place, so you can understand how frustrating it is to have my face and the way I present myself undermined like this when I have come so far. From the age of 11 (when I first started middle school) up until I was about 16, possibly 17, I really cared what other people - more specifically, people my age - thought of me. So I sat quietly at the backs of classrooms, smiling meekly, and wearing the same things that everyone else was wearing. Because I was not comfortable or happy with being myself. But I am now. I discovered blogging, and people like Arabelle who were really cool and wore whatever they wanted and were completely, unashamedly confident and comfortable with themselves. And that was fucking amazing! Because I'd never experienced or seen anything like that before. I have learnt from them, and I too am now very happy and confident about the way I look and dress.
That is not to be said that I feel confident everyday, and with every outfit picture I take. Sometimes I don't feel comfortable looking at the camera or smiling, but that's my business and I'm dealing with it. On most days, I like the way I look so I'm not bothered if I'm smiling or not. I like my face, get over it. I am perfectly comfortable and happy and, let's face it, fucking proud of the way I look and the way I dress. I do not need anyone to tell me what I "should" be doing to look better or more attractive. Because I don't care about anyone else's opinions on the way I look, I only care about the way I feel about it. So, please. Do not tell me to smile. I don't need to smile in my outfit pictures because I am comfortable with the way my face looks when I'm not. If that makes you uncomfortable, then I'm sorry but I'm not sorry.


  1. I LOVE this. I am the same way. I don't smile in outfit posts. I'm more concerned with how my outfit looks and how the shot is set up, I never even think about if I'm smiling or not. I also can't stand it when people tell me what to do or how to look. Bottom line, don't ever ever tell me to smile. Again, love this.
    xo, Tori

  2. come on, lighten up!
    ~just kidding~

    it's so irritating when like, strangers on the street go up to me and are like, "WHAT'S WRONG?!?!?!" and nothing is. like, kurt cobain was talking about how everyone thinks he hates (hated) them if he didn't smile at them. it's like, smiling at people is like expressing some sort of vacancy, but if you're focused on thinking certain thoughts and you don't want to be an empty, clean slate airhead for strangers telling you to tie your shoes, it's a bad thing or something. i don't know if it's narcissistic, but i don't want to dumb myself down into a smile so i can be 'inviting.' you're so right!!

  3. i recently switched the taxi company i use because i was so fed up of one driver who kept spending the whole journey telling me to smile more. i told him i was perfectly happy, didn't need to smile to him to prove this and that maybe he should spend more time looking at the road than my face in the mirror. after the third time i stopped using the taxi rank. anyway, i'm a recent follower to your blog, and i think you seem great - smile or no smile!

    Laila x

  4. eww i seriously hate when people say that! plus, excuse me, it's kind of a fashion blogger 'thing' to not smile. pretty standard. you don't owe anyone a smile!

  5. Wow, that's a very personal and a very brave statement! :)

    I can totllaly understand you, especially when you hint at society's double standards - "Why is it that you want me to smile? To make sure I'm happy, or so that I look presentable to you?" - and critisize the general expectations everyone has of women and happiness and so on.

    I usually adore the way you present your outfits, you also have a very professional style, an eye for details and it is obvious to see that you're proud of your clothes. This is, in my opinion, the most important thing about outfit posts. :) And you have such a pleasant face that no matter if you smile or not, you also look good. ;)

    Once, I was dating the totally wrong guy and I realized he was the wrong one partly because he always insisted I should smile and teased me about my facebook profile pictures (I didn't smile on any of them).
    The sweetest thing my boyfriend ever said to me was: "You have a lovely smile. But when you frown, it sends shivers down my spine..."
    I often have the "cold mannequin glare" on pictures, simply because I like how I look - and whoever like me better with a goofy grin or whatever has no taste. :P )(Okay, that's a little harsh, but you certainly understand what I mean.)

  6. I think this is the best post I've seen all month, without a doubt. I can totally relate to what you're saying, as people have always instructed me to 'smile more' or 'stop looking so miserable'. Fact is, I don't smile in photos because I'm not comfortable with my smile, so why should I conform to society's stereotypical perception of what is deemed a 'beautiful woman'? Last year one of my teachers noticed that I don't smile as much as the other girls in my class, and so she informed the school nurse, presumably because she thought I was suffering from depression. As a result I was called into the nurse's office for a 'chat', and despite denying that anything was wrong, to this day the teacher still gives me concerned looking glances (unless that's just me being paranoid). Ugh- I don't understand why some people feel it necessary to judge people based on whether or not they have a grin plastered across their face.

    Sarah xo

  7. I got a xerox of a bikini kill zine a few weeks ago, and in it there was this whole awesome article. To quote it: "Don't TELL me to be a happy motherfucker."


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