“Just Smile”

More people should understand this: no one is required to smile. Just because you tell someone to smile, it doesn’t mean that they’ll want to or that they ought to.

Most of the time, when people are focused on something else, or feel down, that is the last thing they want to hear.

It’s true.

And it is especially true for women.

A woman isn’t feminine enough until she smiles in public, smiles on demand for how grateful she should be, and how optimistic she should be. Because we live in a patriarchal society, men are encouraged to be angry, not to express substantial emotion, and not to smile. Women must present rainbows and butterflies unless she isn’t strong or she isn’t respected for being honest with the world by not smiling.

Moreover, smiling tends to equate attractiveness. If women or men do not smile when told to, they are stuck up, or mean, or ugly.

It’s quite strange.

Western society praises individuality, yet it sets these high expectations that aren’t always possible to reach in human emotion. Telling someone to “just smile,” because of the mold you want them to be in, makes them feel guilty and even more alone.

Did you know that developed countries have higher rates of suicide because of the expectations that are too high for the culture? How can Americans reduce the stigma of mental health if we’re still perpetuating the need for a happy standard that can’t exist permanently?

Besides, if we are just happy all the time, we wouldn’t know what happiness is anymore.

There are good intentions behind it, but it isn’t as helpful as some think it is.


2 thoughts on ““Just Smile”

  1. I completely agree. On numerous occasions, I’ve been told by complete strangers—who are invariably men—to smile. The most memorable, for all the wrong reasons, was one week after my Dad had died (see my blog post http://www.emovoid.com/an-atheists-prayer-why-my-fathers-death-made-me-wish-i-believed-in-god/ ).

    Where do these men get off telling a complete stranger what emotions she should be projecting to the world? And it always is a she—I seriously doubt that any of them say this to other men. It’s a presumptuous, condescending and sexist habit that needs to stop. Women are people who experience the whole range of human emotions. We don’t exist solely for men’s viewing pleasure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen my dear! Your blog is so well written. Agnostics tend to receive so much crap for their honesty and why they believe what they believe, and you’re amazing for how honest and open you are about it. Moreover, death can definitely take a toll on someone, and telling someone to smile and be grateful for the “good times” is not very helpful. It just isn’t. Thank you for sharing that with me, and I apologize on behalf of anyone religious who has mistreated you, especially during this particular moment in your life. I want to read more of your pieces about mental health, and I look forward to reading them. You rock!!

      Liked by 1 person

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