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Stop Telling Women to Smile

Stop Telling Women to Smile
Why do people keep telling women to smile? Why are women so irritated when they’re told to smile?


Smiling triggers dopamine production, making you feel good. When someone else sees a smile, it leads to smile mimicry. Even the tiniest twitch of a smile can make the viewer feel happier. Some folks tell others to smile so they can make themselves feel better.

Many people smile to level the playing field. Men tend to be more rank-oriented. They don’t typically smile as much.

“Resting Bitch Face”

Why is it called “resting bitch face” if a woman doesn’t smile constantly? Hillary Clinton was publicly chastised for not smiling enough. Facial expression shows emotion. A woman playing cards close to her vest to be competitive isn’t revealing her emotions. A reserved expression doesn’t invite empathy.

Smiling is a submissive gesture of appeasement. You can see it in chimpanzees and some dogs. In fact, high testosterone levels are linked with decreased facial expression. No one wants to appear weak and submissive in an important business meeting.

Women don’t like being told to show more emotion or appease others.

Don't smile if it feels unnatural. But, everyone likes a genuine smile.

Listen as Dr. Helen Fisher joins Dr. Pamela Peeke to discuss the ins and outs of smiling.


Smarty Pants Vitamins
Featured Speaker:
Helen Fisher, PhD
Helen FisherHelen Fisher, PhD, is Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, Member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, and Chief Scientific Advisor to  

She currently speaks at business conferences around the world and is a TED All-Star with over 11 million views of her TED talks.  

She has written six internationally best-selling books on romantic love and future sex. ANATOMY OF LOVE (2nd Ed., 2016) presents data on 80,000+ people to explain why you love who you love; and using data collected on 30,000+ people, she discusses many contemporary social/sexual/family trends, including what Fisher calls “slow love.”  

Fisher is currently studying the biological basis of personality and is a pioneer in examining the neurochemistry of advertising, buying, leadership, and innovation. She has presented her data on love and personality at the TED conference, the World Economic Forum (Davos), the 2012 International Meeting of the G20, The Economist; and speeches at The Aspen Ideas Festival, Procter & Gamble, VISA, American Express, and the 2016 International Advertising Festival, among many others.  

She is also published widely in academic and lay journals. Her Curriculum Vita at lists all of her publications and activities.

She is the recipient of the American Anthropological Association’s Distinguished Service Award, their highest honor, for her work at presenting anthropological data to the general public.