Collage of two photos of women: One wearing a gray blazer and another wearing a black tank top, seated.

The resting bitch face, coined in 2013 by an online comedy group, has become a cultural phenomenon. What started as a joke to describe women with seemingly unhappy default expressions, the RBF is now a badge of honor – worn with pride and, usually, a spine-tingling glower.

Women everywhere now claim to have an RBF, but only a select few have one.

Why is it such a coveted countenance, despite its sexist undertones? These Filipinas share what they love about their resting bitch face, and why they wouldn’t change it for anything.

It Scares Away the “Snatchers”

One thing about having an RBF in the Philippines is it helps ward off unwanted advances – of all sorts. Snatchers? No worries! They’ll cower in fear at the sight of your unbothered mug. Manyaks? Their unwelcome advances won’t stand a chance against your unwelcoming expression.

Such is the experience of Kaye Arzadon, who was always told she looked masungit and unapproachable. “Having a resting bitch face is helpful when you just want to be by yourself. I'm not good with small talk, so this comes in handy. I also think it wards off people with bad intentions, like pickpockets and catcallers,” Kaye shares.

Kaye admits that she sometimes has to remind herself to “fix” her self-described “judgey-bored” facial expression, but she’s also learned to love it. “It’s part of who I am, and I wear it with pride,” she says.

Kei Contreras, who always felt people dismissed her as “not a nice person,” feels the same way. “As I grew older, I’ve come to accept that it’s nothing to be concerned about. People close to me know who I am.” Kei adds, “I do like how people are afraid to mess with me! It’s not something I would change. Love me or hate me, I don’t mind either way.”

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It’s a Blessing to Introverts

Being an introvert can be challenging. You’ll find yourself in uncomfortable situations where you’re expected to be chatty, sometimes for hours. Although it may sound borderline anti-social, having a resting bitch face can save you from this! When you’re not in the mood to be perky and cute, your RBF can help keep people at a distance – if that’s where you want them.

Writer Bea Cup has always had an intimidating glare, or so she’s been told. “It’s not even a glare, that’s just how I look!” The fact is, Bea is a secret introvert whose social battery runs out fast. “In my field of work, looking serious has its perks. Fewer people try to approach you when you seem intimidating. That may sound terrible, but it works for me!”

Bea wouldn’t change a thing about what she calls her “default scowl.” “I’ve learned that RBF is sometimes code for ‘. ’I’ve lived this way for over 30 years, and I’d like to think it makes me interesting. Plus, I still get a kick out of how my friends used to be afraid (yes, afraid) of me,” she shares.

It's Your Natural Expression

Erika Gue gets the same comments from her "maldita” look. “People would constantly ask me if I was in a bad mood and won’t even believe me when I say no.” 

Erika used to think she needed to change her look when she was younger. “It made me so self-conscious that I’d do my in a way that made me look ‘friendlier.’ I would make my eyebrows less dark and less arched, and avoid wearing .”

Although Erika admits she makes an effort to , she has also learned to tune out negative comments. “As I grew older, I learned to embrace my RBF and let go of the fear of judgment.”

Rorie Manzano has also been called variations of “mataray” all her life. Working in fashion, she was labeled unapproachable and snooty, even when she tried to smile and be friendly to manage her shyness. “People are genuinely surprised and say I’m nice and pleasant,” Rorie shares.

These days, Rorie no longer needs to prove first impressions otherwise. “I try to be more chatty and amiable whenever I can, but in general, it’s not something I’m super conscious about. It would be highly unnatural of be to be smiley and perky all the time.”

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It Delays Skin Aging (Sort of!)

Aliyya Sawadjaan, who’s had a resting bitch face since childhood, brings up a good point: an RBF does, in some way, delay .

For the longest time, Aliyya’s resting bitch face was like a shield. It elicited respect, which she admits is probably out of fear. “It’s useful in an office setting. You can fake it till you make it with an RBF.

“People would tell me I have ‘Garfield eyes’ that make me look bitchy. Sometimes I felt I had to soften my face, smile more, or control my facial reactions. It didn’t work though!” She jokes, “As I got older, the personality grew to match the face. I’ve learned to embrace it even if other people don’t.”

“I looked at old photos of my mom and saw she, too, had an RBF and used it to get respect and love from people. I plan on emulating her one way or another.” Aliyya adds, “Another thing I love about having an RBF is it makes you less prone to wrinkles! I still get mistaken for a twentysomething, which is great for .”

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It’s Not a Bad Thing

The mere existence of the term “resting bitch face” is the problem. It betrays how society still expects women to smile and be – a woman who scowls is not pretty and must receive ridicule for it. Moreover, women told to have an RBF have no choice but to accept the label graciously, or people might drop the R and the F altogether.

Bernice Sibucao's classmates teased her for looking like she might punch someone in the face. However, she no longer takes it personally. “It’s just my face! I don’t feel like I have to control it because it’s not a bad thing. I think society generally expects women’s faces to be all smiley.”

She adds, “I say frak the patriarchy.” Leona Bedonia was also told to “smile more often” to look more approachable, even if she never had a hard time fitting in or making friends. However, she has embraced her RBF as part of her brand. “I’m having fun with it. Sabi nga, bakitako ang mag-aadjust? It never affected my life or lifestyle.”

She adds, “I think I might have even turned it into a strength – I’ve gotten away with things because of my RBF! Try it and you’ll see how much fun and power comes with it.”

A resting bitch face is not a bad thing; it’s a non-thing. It’s an arbitrary label that people like to attribute to others. You may even use it to describe your own look and that’s okay. Trying to “fix” your face for the sake of avoiding labels is counterproductive – what matters is the person behind the RBF and how she treats others, despite the scowl.