PSA: It Might Just Be Cranky Resting Face

bad drawings, storytelling

At the conference in Orlando last month, I approached a friend who was standing inside a room, and she looked mad. I walked up to her and was like, “Hey, what’s wrong?” She told me nothing was wrong, and I gave her a look and I’m all “No really, are you okay?” because we’re friends like that and I can push a little with the questions. She responds, “What, is it my face? Roo, I just have bitchy resting face, okay?”

OH. Oh, okay.

I’ve heard of this phenomenon, which I will henceforth refer to as “cranky resting face” to keep things a little bit more suitable for work and also my mom. It’s when a person’s neutral face looks a little cranky. And then you stare at this person and immediately assume he or she is angry with you.

I do not generally have cranky resting face. In fact, I’m concerned that I have the opposite of that, because even when I’m sitting on a plane, earbuds in, trying to snooze, the person next to me really wants me to hear his/her life story. I think – with some exception – it’s a good thing, because I love people and I love when people feel comfortable with me. If I’m in an irritating or super-thinky conversation, my poker face comes up and I might look a little bored, but occasionally I’m a little too :) :D :D :D :D :D. Like, stop.

But I really needed to learn about cranky resting face so I stop annoying my friends who have it. If I’ve done that :O is everything okayyy are you suuuure are you feeling okay do you want me to get you a ginger ale?? please take this as my apology. Maybe you have cranky resting face, or maybe you jump to conclusions and assume your coworker hates you because she seems to be frowning your direction. This PSA is for all of us, yes, and amen.

Cranky Resting Face

Cranky Resting Face

Cranky Resting Face

Cranky Resting Face

Cranky Resting Face

Cranky Resting Face

Cranky Resting Face

Cranky Resting Face

Previous Post Next Post


  • Reply Jen @ the well read fish April 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

    When I lived in New York and was always out and about, people would be all “hey, smile lady!”
    It was so annoying! I had my busy resting face on!

    • Reply Roo April 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      “You’re not the boss of me!”

  • Reply Kim R. April 8, 2014 at 11:51 am

    My husband now tries to remind me when we are meeting new people to avoid this. I have it. I have it bad. I think I make a bad first impression because of it combined with being a tad bit shy at first. :/

    • Reply Liz E. April 8, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      I can sympathize–I have the double whammy of the expression and just being generally quiet-natured. I can be having a perfectly nice time and people who don’t know me well often come away thinking I’m a complete crank.

  • Reply caree April 8, 2014 at 11:52 am

    This IS my life. Even after 5+ years, my husband ~still~ can’t read my ‘RBF’. More often than not, he’s ‘What’s wrong??’, which translates in my brain to: “There is something wrong with your face. Explain your face to me.” ….Ok, NOW I’m annoyed. :)

  • Reply Brittany April 8, 2014 at 11:54 am

    My daughter has a ‘worried resting face.’ I commented on it to my husband at school one day and one of the other moms overhead and said, “Yes! I’ve noticed she always looks so concerned!” Maybe I should start investing in wrinkle cream for her now :)

  • Reply Kelly {the Centsible Life} April 8, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Nothing is wrong. No, REALLY.

    bitchy resting face

    • Reply Roo April 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Your bitchy resting face is adorable, and you know it!

  • Reply Rebecca April 8, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    LOL. Hilarious! I know too many people with this same thing, and those text convos have definitely happened. Sorry ladies! Also, I like the update to the site! It looks good and more importantly, looks great on mobile as well!

  • Reply Leah Butler April 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Yeah, after 6 years of marriage my husband also confuses my slightly frowning “I’m concentrating, yo” face with an unhappy or grumpy face. And doesn’t see the warning, flashing lights of doom when my angry, “shit’s about to get set on fire” face is on. I think he needs flashcards. Roo, can you make my husband flash cards? Please.

    Pretty please?

    Pretty please with extra special sugar on top? *sad puppy face*

  • Reply Cheri @ Overactive Blogger April 8, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I’m shrieking with laughter at this post. The text part is what got me!

    • Reply Roo April 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      ***Emoji prayer hands!***

  • Reply Julana April 8, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I to have bitchy resting face. The reason I know this is because random people (mostly men) on the streets of SF will walk by me and tell me to smile. If you haven’t watched the YouTube video on this then you should. It’s pretty funny.

    • Reply Juliana April 8, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      I would also like to point out that I spelled my name wrong above. Uh, duh…

  • Reply tara April 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I don’t know if I have cranky resting face >:| (<– see what I did there?) or not. But what I do know is, I totally needed some sketchy posts in my life this week. They make me smile and I hear them :)

    Thanks for this PSA. I will now think twice about asking people if they are okay and then not believing them when they say they're fine!

  • Reply Aya April 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    LMAO missed your stick people. More please more! :) :) :D :D :D

  • Reply ~Karrilee~ April 8, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    If you have not watched Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld when Sarah Silverman is on… you need to! LOL! She talks about this ‘default face’ and how she can help to change your life! Here’s the link: http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/sarah-silverman-i-m-going-to-change-your-life-forever
    …and you’re welcome!

  • Reply Suebob April 8, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    As I get older, I am growing into a bitchy resting face. I lost some weight, so my face is sort of jowly along the frown lines. I see myself in a window and think “Man, I look pissed off!”

  • Reply Jamie the Very Worst Missionary April 8, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    “Are you Ok?”
    “Yes. This is just what my face looks like.”

    Every damn day.

  • Reply Katelyn April 8, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    I HAVE THIS. When my ex and I were together he’s always asked me why I looked pissed off and never believed me when I said that I wasn’t!

  • Reply Steph Reiner April 8, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Yeah it’s even worse when the cranky resting face results in actually being cranky because someone keeps asking why you’re mad and you’re like “WELL NOW I’M MAD BECAUSE YOU THINK I’M MAD.” I have it bad and my mom would always be like “Ayyy… smile, people are going to think you’re rude.” and I was always like “DON’T YOU EVER TELL ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE.” Actually I was like “Fine. (insert forced angry smile) But how are you really supposed to know??? Because sometimes people don’t want to answer right away if they’re angry (ahem, women) and they need further probing to really spill the beans. Right??? It’s a lose-sometimes win-lose sitch.

  • Reply Jonathan April 8, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I like to practice “Jack Black sociopathic smile resting face”. This why, I’m assured of only very interesting people coming up to talk to me at conferences, on planes…I go with blanky blankerson face when I’m going through China customs though.

  • Reply Jen April 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I totally have this! Along with people asking me if I’m ok all the time, I also get a lot of comments to the effect of “smile! you’re much prettier when you smile!” which is also annoying because (a) who sits there in front of the computer smiling like a goober? I swear the boss would think I was up to something and (b) if you want me to smile, say something funny, amiright?!

    But all that said, I’ve really started to make an effort to adjust my face during meetings and presentations at work so I don’t look so mad at the world the entire time. Even if it’s chewing the inside of my lip for a second or whatever, anything that breaks up the long stretches of cranky face seems to really help.

  • Reply Courtney @ Don't Blink. Just Run. April 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    This is completely amazing because I totally have BRF. People always think I’m mad. My boss called me Grumpy Gills yesterday and I wasn’t even mad! LOL

    I have to say the video PSA for it is hysterical, but I love your last cartoon frame with the “why?” in the eyes. Amazing.

  • Reply Britiney April 8, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    laughing. so. hard.

    srsly. can you write a book. for me. of your drawings?

  • Reply Mariko April 8, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I have a similar affliction – the Sorrowful Resting Face*. SRF prompts strangers to pat my hand comfortingly and old men to say things like “Chin up, kid! Ya look like someone ran over your dog!”

    No, actually, that’s just my face. (But what if someone HAD just run over my dog!?)

    This will all pay off the day some Good Samaritan mistakenly offers me a Zoloft. Free drugs all around!

    *for visual reference, please see Robert from the popular board game Guess Who

    • Reply Kristin April 9, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      HAHA, I definitely looked up Guess Who Robert because it’s been forever since I’ve played that game :)

  • Reply Katie Nelson April 8, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    My friend and I in high school got pulled aside after class for being “mean lookers.” I think she mean we both had Crdnky Resting Face & the teacher was taking it personally! That was 15 years ago and my friend and I still call each other mean lookers!

  • Reply Mandi April 8, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I’m in the “my husband can’t read my resting face” camp as well. We’re watching a movie and he looks over.. “Are you okay? You seem upset.” “Yeah? Just watching the movie like a normal person.”
    Same thing when I’m reading a book. Making dinner. Petting the cat. Maybe I should work on this. Haha

  • Reply Melissa April 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Kristina nails it with this comic: http://blog.krisatomic.com/?p=1617


  • Reply Kristin April 8, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    This is hilarious. When my husband and I were dating and even a few years into our marriage I couldn’t get over his “cranky resting face”. I would hound him, “you okay?” “why are you so mad” “what are you mad about” until the point where he had a real cranky face (also note – there’s really no difference – lucky me). So after awhile I just gave up asking because 1) he’s a guy so if something is upsetting enough he’ll probably tell me 2) saying something funny or lighthearted and seeing what his reaction to that is a much better judgement of how he’s feeling. If I get a laugh, chuckle, or even a half smile then I know all is right in the world.

  • Reply Dana April 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Haha I love this. I definitely have a cranky resting face and I get a complex when everyone thinks I’m mean!

    Also, I have to tell you that I have been laughing myself sick at that Jurassic Park video you posted the other day. Even just thinking about it brings me to tears! So thank you for that!

  • Reply Megan @ Teaching Every Day April 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Okay, I had to look up the youtube video mentioned in the comments. Hilarious!

    • Reply Kristin April 9, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Thank you for posting the link – that video is hilarious!!!

  • Reply Joanna April 8, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I totally have a bitchy resting face!! Everyone always thinks I’m giving them dirty looks… I’m like no, it’s just my face.
    I’m also painfully shy with new people (or old people I don’t know well)… so basically I come off like a huge b-face.

  • Reply AJ April 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I totally suffer from, uh… “Cranky” Resting Face. Like, big time. The worst part is that I wasn’t even aware of it until my father-in-law pointed it out… at Christmas dinner.


  • Reply Lesley April 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    I suffer from come-talk-to-me resting face like you Roo. I get approached out of 100’s of people in a subway station to be asked for directions, out of 20 other people in a store to help find something a (usually elderly) person can’t seem to find, out of all other parents on the school yard to help with a kid situation. I don’t get it… one of my coworkers said it’s my aura… I really need to nasty it up.

  • Reply Lain de Guia April 8, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    My whole extended family and I are cursed with bitchy resting face! When I was younger I’d always get the “What’s wrong?”, but as an adult I get “Who the freak does she think she is?” from strangers and fear from my friends…all when I’m just sitting quietly pondering my grocery list.

  • Reply Tracey McCartney April 8, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    I totally have bitchy resting face. My husband confessed that when he saw me for the very first time from across a crowded dance floor I looked like a “B”. He chatted me up anyway, he wasn’t afraid. It doesn’t help that I am social inept & painfully shy. I am all up in my head thinking…..Do I look ok….Oooh I like this song….i should dance…..i feel silly dancing….but its the jackson 5…..where is my girlfriend….she will dance with me so i don’t look so stupid…..is my outfit ok…….is my hair flopping…..i am sweating…..i need another drink….. No wonder I have BRF!!!! I try really hard to not do it but think I am the WORST in the grocery store when i am really focused!! LOL

    • Reply Jules October 29, 2014 at 9:02 am

      I am right there with you. Can’t smile with all that going on in your head. Forgot to add “is my stomach sticking out” and “i wonder if my panty line is showing”. That one’s a constant for me when wearing the grannies.

  • Reply Ashley April 8, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I have RBF. I have the best RBF ever, that I LOVE. I am the person you see walking in the grocery store, and while you have been allowing your child to walk in not so straight dancy lines all over the aisles, you look up, see me, and grab them out of the way. Yes, I may just walk right into them, people! Ha. I wouldn’t. Probably. But also, homeless people don’t ask me for money, no one tells me their life story in grocery lines, etc. I wouldn’t even know these things happen except when I’m with someone else it always happens to them and I’m all “UGHHHHH, really???”

  • Reply Natasha April 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    I’m like you, Roo, my resting face is entirely too friendly. Yes, neighbor man, tell me all your marital problems at the mailbox :0
    However, hubs totes has bitchy resting face, so I just check that twitchy muscle in his jaw to gage his mood.
    Your cartoons Make. My. Day.

  • Reply Jodi T. April 9, 2014 at 9:53 am

    I had NO IDEA that others suffered from this condition!! My grandmother, who raised me, had it and everyone always asked if she was mad or if she was in a good mood. Granted, she could be cranky (she worked like a dog), but even when she was in a great mood she still looked mad. Guess who got lucky enough to inherit this charming trait?

  • Reply Allison April 9, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Oh, this is so me. As in, I have a constant Debbie Downer face. When I smile it’s extreme and takes up my whole face (which I obviously don’t mind), but it’s the exact opposite when I’m just at rest. I get asked if I’m okay EVERYDAY at work.

  • Reply Minnie's Birth Story - Neon Fresh April 9, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    […] feel wildly uncomfortable, I kindly suggest that you check out another post. Like yesterday’s cartoon! Or Friday’s TIHIF. This post is a little graphic, and I’m a little bit nudey in the […]

  • Reply Tracie April 9, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    My husband and I call it my “default face” … and my default face does not look happy. I get the “Are you okay?” question a lot. And then “Are you sure?” Well, I was, then you got on my nerves. :D

  • Reply Kristin April 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I totally have a BRS!! My boss has mentioned to me a few times now that it seems like I’m always in a bad mood – I was like no I’m not. In my head I was like *WTF* do I have to sit at my computer with a smile on my face 24/7? I don’t want to look up & smile every time someone passes my desk, I’m working here people!! Does that make me sound like a b***h, lol? When I’m walking around or driving I always think, someone is going to look over & think I’m in the worst mood, but I’m really just thinking about the million things on my to do list or in a relaxed zone. I’ve been working on my BRS, but it’s really hard & wonder how you smiling people do it all day!!

  • Reply Anna April 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    My sister wears this term like a proud medal of honor. She has a BRF. She knows it. And she owns it. She scares me a little though.

  • Reply Weekend Reads April 12, 2014 at 12:14 am

    […] Roo of Neon Fresh recently had a run in with resting bitch face.  Her post is a great reminder that it exists and our friend really is […]

  • Reply Cathy April 13, 2014 at 10:23 am

    So that’s what it’s called. I have that, too, and always have people asking me what’s wrong. Sometimes I’m perfectly happy and just peacefully thinking and enjoying quiet, but apparently I look mad while doing it. Being very introverted doesn’t help; people assume I’m mad and not wanting to talk.

  • Reply Brianna April 29, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Saw this today, and immediately thought of this post. An educational piece to help those who don’t understand resting bitch face. Disregard if you are already hip to this, or if someone else already pointed this out to you.

  • Reply Sirah June 27, 2014 at 2:25 am

    People are always intimidated by me because I look cranky. Even my friends still doesnt get why I look like this. They always ask me “what’s wrong” / ” why r u mad? ” stuff like that and its really annoying. Some even judge me because of my ‘bitchy’ face without even knowing me :/

  • Reply Georgia July 16, 2014 at 4:41 am

    The short cut to getting your roof fixed There is so busy, that is often a good recommendation. At the
    time, do it! The Complete Leisure Group, Inc. That is so low he couldn’t take the time of year
    filing will be properly trained and skilled painters that they know exactly what
    is your business been operating as an apprentice, whether
    an employee? The gorgeous, sleek modern toilets
    on the back of the line materials or putting extra quality labor and contractors have a chance to build a
    room inside your home.

  • Reply End of Summer - SEMIPROPER August 18, 2014 at 11:19 am

    […] How Bloggers Make Money >>> Egg for Dinner >>> Text Wars, Part 4 >>> PSA: It Might Just Be Cranky Resting Face >>> This is How I Feel, Volume 52 >>> At Dawn We Ride >>> Use it Up, Anne […]

  • Leave a Reply