On being told to “smile.”



I recently updated my Facebook profile photo to the one show above, and was met with comments regarding my seemingly  displeased expression. 

Though I know most weren’t malintended, the circumstance provided an opportunity to give life to thoughts I’d been considering for a while. 

“On being told to ‘smile.'”

I will not apologize for emoting. 

The only sincerity in my sorrow is that you fear the recognition of pain, anger, contemplation and grief, that you instruct their repression, and you revel in their eradication. 

Do not diminish me to relinquish responsibility for the existence of emotions you would rather not experience. 

Do not qualify me as an inconvenience simply because my expression provokes thoughtfulness. 

Do not reject me in the wake of a denied pleasantry.

Do not seek to slather fractures in preferred perfection for the sake of hubris. 

Identify, accept and respond. 
Consider, question and grow. 

Do not tell me to smile. 


Instead, question why I won’t.

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3 thoughts on “On being told to “smile.””

  1. It’s especially baffling when strangers do this. Why should they care? It’s clearly for their own benefit, not yours. Does anyone realistically walk around all day with a pasted smile on?

    1. There’s a quote that says “I am not here to decorate your world,” and it really summed things up for me. People are not things to be adjusted or altered at another’s whim.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  2. So why weren’t you smiling in this particular picture?

    This week a female sort-of boss (but also sort-of peer) said to me: “Can you smile for me when you’re back there?” My mind immediately went somewhere dirty and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what she was talking about. She meant when I was “back behind the bar”- bartending. Can I smile more when I’m bartending? Sure, why not.

    The bigger question is this: do the drinks taste better when I smile as I hand them to you? Then why does it matter? Why is smiling such a highly demanded precondition in customer service?

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