Asian woman smiling while shaking hands

Have you ever experienced this scenario? You walk along the street, going about your business, thinking about the bills you must pay and the deadlines you need to meet. Then, a passerby says, “ngumiti ka naman diyan.” In this world, it’s ironic that a woman must smile for people to take her seriously. It doesn't matter if you wear a fake smile or are genuinely happy. Grinning should be your default expression.

It even happens in the workplace where you would expect a more somber expression. A survey conducted online in the US found that 37% percent of women who were forced to smile say it happened at work. Harrowingly, 36% of those hold senior-level positions. Many of these women felt underappreciated, especially when a female boss was the one who pressured them to do it.

It’s a Measure of Attractiveness

There has long been a correlation between attractiveness and smiling. The Turkish Journal of Orthodontics notes that a person’s smile is a strong determinant of beauty. Moreover, according to the PEW Research Center, women are expected to adhere to standards that measure physical appearance more than men. Of the people interviewed in the study, 35% said that or beauty was expected more in women than in men.

It’s a Social Expectation

A study in Psychological Science states that social context plays a part in why people smile. Variable smiling is a result of a social situation more than emotion. When people choose which sex smiles more often, they inevitably say that women do. For females, smiling has become a convention.

It’s a Gender-Based Assumption

Pop culture has painted the typical manly man as the brooding, silent type. Meanwhile, women are pegged to be warm and friendly. This gender-based assumption can make women feel pressured to wear a fake smile, despite not feeling it. If someone tells you, “Smile naman diyan!” you should not feel the need to oblige. Smiling is personal and not something anyone can make you do.

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