Measure Magazine, Vol. VII

more than doubled over the last year. Licea also spoke with Park Avenue plastic surgeon Dr. Melissa Doft, another doctor familiar with conducting procedures that aim to make patients look “less sad.” To achieve a “pleasant resting look,” doctors use techniques such as the injection of fillers or Botox treatments into the face. Overall, the procedure takes about 10 to 20 minutes and can cost anywhere between $500 and $5,000, depending upon the amount of contempt a patient seeks to lose. Women are not wrong to think that their “unfriendly” face needs fixing. “Through cultural conditioning, women have learned that in order for people to like them, they have to wear a smile even if they don’t think anything is particularly funny. Men who look thoughtful are seen as serious; women with the same expression are perceived as unfriendly and unlikeable,” wrote author Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D, in a 2015 article for Psychology Today. Thoughtful looking women should not be forced to think privately behind closed doors. The 2015 New York Times article, “I’m Not Mad. That’s Just My RBF,” by Jessica Bennett, described RBF as a face that a person may make when thinking hard about something – or perhaps when they’re not thinking at all. Meaning a woman’s silent intellectual moment has now labeled her an unfriendly person to the public.

Naturally, this misperception carries through to the workplace, where an IBM study of 2,300 organizations concluded that a mere 18% of senior corporate leadership roles were held by women. A portion of this gender bias could be the result of perceptions about RBF. In 2014, the Caliper Research and Development Department conducted a study to explore the personality traits related to successful female leaders, and to determine which challenges female leaders experience most in today’s workplace. Along with many earlier studies, this study concluded that several of the traits that are viewed as necessary for effective leadership, such as assertiveness and self-reliance, are characteristics more often attributed to men. Eighty five women currently holding leadership positions of Vice President or higher on the corporate ladder, and representing 60 different companies, made up the final sample for their study. The study concluded that personality both enables and hinders women in regards to overcoming the challenges and threats of stereotyping that are inevitable with their positions of leadership. The personality traits that will enable women to excel in leadership roles are being straightforward communicators, action-oriented risk-takers, and complex problem solvers. These traits, although originally seen as “masculine,” are proven to be universal leadership traits for all. In 2015, Meg Fry wrote, “Is There Something Wrong? No. That’s Just My Face,” for the business journal, NJBIZ. NJBIZ set out to investigate the implications in the workplace of women being labeled a bitch due to their RBF. “In an informal poll of more than a dozen female NJBIZ staffers between ages 21 and 50, 64% believe RBF has the ability to impact one’s career, or prevent one from getting ahead in business,” Fry reported. Objectively, RBF is just a calmly assertive or thoughtful facial expression. Is that not the face of a person who is simply mentally engaged in something besides how she is being physically perceived? When the lines and curves that denote her success or her depth leave a mark on a woman’s face, she is known to the world as a victim of the RBF epidemic. Ultimately, RBF relies on the outside gaze of others, not a person’s self-concept. If we encourage girls and women to be themselves, no matter the facial expression, perhaps a woman who is thoughtful, intellectual, and occasionally perplexed, will one day be affectionately labeled “that bitch.”












Volume 7


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