R.B.F.: The Enemy of a Social Life

How appearances affect societal judgments… and how snap judgments can be avoided.

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photo by Danny Curran

This graphic is a depiction that people’s expressions and appearance do not show their true colors and who they really are.

by Avalon Nielsen, Reporter

As a society, looks are important. There is no other way to say it. We make split-second judgments about others entirely based on our first impressions of them.

This is a problem.

There is no way to tell who a person really is based on their appearance.

You may have heard the term “Resting B**** Face,” less commonly known as “resting bird face,” “R.B.F.” or simply just “b*tchy resting face.”

According to Science of People, “People with [Resting B*** Face] … tend to have features that are naturally angled down. For example, some people have eyes that are downcast, making them look more tired and depressed while others have downward angled mouths that make them look perpetually upset.”

In a poll conducted by @rcrockmedia, 72% of 120 students asked said they’ve been told they have R.B.F.

“I think it sometimes influences the way people interact with me because I think it causes a lot of people to think I’m a jerk,” Sophia Dorr ‘26 said.

Our reliance on facial stereotypes can influence our ability to make decisions such as whom we trust.

“People who more strongly believe that trustworthiness is reflected in facial features rely more on their counterpart’s perceived trustworthiness when deciding whom to trust. Thus, reliance on trait impressions may be driven by beliefs in the diagnostic value of facial appearance for judging an individual’s personality,” Science Direct said.

This means that a person can have an immediate bias toward you simply because of your facial features.

Have you ever considered that a person could have been having a terrible day, perhaps they forgot their homework, or got in a car crash on the way to school? This could influence their expression or body language, possibly resulting in that person seeming inherently mean.

Backstage presents an interesting idea of two different types of people; those who are internalizers and those who are externalizers.  

Externalizers are those people who show emotions on their faces, but have little change in their autonomic nervous system … Internalizers, on the other hand, tend to feel intensely …while their faces remain blank,” Backstage said.

No two people are the same, therefore no two people will express their emotions/feelings the same. This means that as a society when we perceive someone as mean or rude, that assumption is almost never correct

“I think [R.B.F.] affects people because I feel like people are less willing to talk to you if you have a scary face on all the time. I think it really intimidates people… I feel like [it would be pretty difficult] to make friends if people are scared of you all the time,” Ella West ‘25 said.

Differences are important. It is what defines us and what makes people who they are. Differences identify us as individuals rather than part of a whole, allowing us to be our unique selves.

“It’s important to recognize difference and work to decrease your stereotypical responses while staying open to learning and noticing differences between individuals,” according to Mindful

Differences cannot be the reason that people are afraid of each other. The ability to have personal experiences, feelings, and interactions is a fundamental part of life. Without differences, our ability to be unique and have the opportunity for uniqueness would disappear.