The science behind the resting bitch face

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IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY: Positivity is usually good and nice, but forcing yourself to be positive when you frankly feel like shit will only invalidate your hurt, and make you feel worse.

SPONSORED: There is (always has been) more room than two in a romantic relationship. The key to managing these numbers, then, is communication.

PICTURE OF THE DAY: The natural angles of our eyes and lips can make us look more scornful or upset than we are.


The Big Idea:
Positivity is usually good and nice, but forcing yourself to be positive when you frankly feel like shit will only invalidate your hurt, and make you feel worse.

You can’t gong xi fa cai your way out of 2020’s misery

This year, Chinese new year will be emptier and quieter. It may feel strange, even depressing. After all, the new year is all about prosperity and health and cheer — which is basically everything Covid-19 took from us in the past year.

You may be tempted to ignore it, just because everyone’s trying to put themselves in a better, festive mood. The year of the ox and the fortunes and health it will bring, right?

Okay, let’s be real. The pandemic is expected to drag — and psychologists recommend that you steer clear from toxic positivity this year, and acknowledge that things are, well, bad.

Positivity can be toxic?!

Apparently, yes. When you expect positivity all the time, both from yourself and the people around you. It can be exhausting to pretend it’s all “good vibes only” when it isn’t.

Not only that, toxic positivity can invalidate someone’s feelings of despair. When you tell someone hurting to ‘just be positive’ or ‘this too shall pass’, it can sound more like a choice than a feeling, so you’re telling them they’re overreacting or being too negative. Even when they aren’t.

Yes, we’re saying pay attention to the negative things

How do you avoid being toxically positive then?

For starters, acknowledge if you’re feeling negative emotions. There’s probably a reason why (or a few), and it’s okay to confront them! But also remember that emotions come and go — so just let yourself experience them till they pass.

That said, the new year tends to come with new goals. If you’ve got those going for you, we’re rooting for you! Just know it’s alright if you’re not feeling the same fuzzy excitement this time around. Sometimes, it’s okay not to be okay.


5 Singaporean stories to catch up on

1️⃣  Lights out: This year, Chinatown street will not be hosting its annual light-up on the eve of Chinese New Year in order to prevent crowding.

2️⃣  A fifteen-year-old boy has died after losing his footing on a high-element course at Safra Yishun — he first lost consciousness suspended mid-air by the safety harness.

3️⃣  Oh no… oh no no no: There’s been another Covid-19 infection in the foreign worker dormitories, where there haven’t been any since 16 Jan.

4️⃣ Return trays here: To prevent your saliva droplets from spreading to the cleaners or next users, please help to clear your trays and utensils after use in public eateries.

5️⃣ Printed foods: Researchers at NTU have developed a new way to 3D-print fruits and vegetables, curating better tastes and nutrition for people with swallowing difficulties.

And 5 facts to spice up your life:

1️⃣  Stressed and shattered: To prevent your glass kitchenware from suddenly shattering, experts say avoid subjecting it to sudden temperature changes.

2️⃣ Enemies to lovers? Researchers have discovered a virus in plants that switch from harming to protecting its host by preventing water loss in times of drought.

3️⃣ Post-mortem research has revealed that depressed peoples have lesser astrocytes — support cells that help heal brain and spinal cord trauma — than non-depressed ones.

4️⃣ New face: Doctors in New York have performed the world’s first successful face and double hand transplant.

5️⃣ Botched? A Chinese actress recently shared on social media that a “cosmetic surgical incident” had left her with necrosis (meaning death of body tissue) on her nose.

The Big Idea:
There is (always has been) more room than two in a romantic relationship. The key to managing these numbers, then, is communication.

Polyamory: I really like you and I really like your friend too

Exclusivity seems like the big thing everyone’s after in their romantic relationships, but that’s not the only type of relationship people have. In fact, from an evolutionary standpoint, monogamous relationships (meaning, relationships with only two partners) aren’t even that natural.

Yes, we’re saying you could be in a relationship with five people at once — only if everyone’s willing, of course!

Simply put, polyamory refers to relationships that include more than two partners, simultaneously. They can be emotional and/or sexual, with everyone’s consent. They also come in a variety of arrangements.

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes

Imagine this: a kitchen table.

This type of polyamory focuses on building family-style connections across all participants, such that everyone would be comfortable sitting around a kitchen table together. Some or all participants could be romantically involved with one another.

On the other hand, there’s parallel polyamory, which refers to a relationship structure where members acknowledge that a partner is seeing other partners — but have no intention to meet them or get further involved. Oof. 

When communicating is hard, try Pillow Tok

Okay, we know what you’re thinking — having one significant other is already hard. How can anyone handle multiple people? 

Communication in any relationship can be tough.

Be it schedules, interests, priorities, or boundaries, negotiation is one of the most important things that polyamorous partners must do. Psychologists actually suggest monogamous couples could learn a few things here!

For meaningful conversations about relationships and love, try Pillow Tok, a card game designed in Singapore that fosters better communication and understanding between partners. They include:

  • Intimacy cards that ask questions about your expectations of partners and relationships; and
  • Fidelity cards that ask questions to provoke reflection and gratitude in your relationship.

This is great, especially with Valentine’s day a’comin.


Weird & Wonderful

  1. Future generations will have footage of their ancestors doing stupid shit.
  2. Humans have cheeks at both ends of our digestive system.
  3. Saying “www” takes longer and has more syllables than “worldwide web.”
  4. We never truly get rid of dust, we just move it around.
  5. You’re as old as your tongue but a little bit older than your teeth.

Image of Anna Kendrick’s ‘resting bitch face’. From The Late Late Show with James Corden.

The Big Idea:
The natural angles of our eyes and lips can make us look more scornful or upset than we are.

I’m not mad, it’s just my face…

Do you ever wonder what you look like to other people? If you were watching a movie of yourself as the main character, how would you look getting your morning coffee, or taking a business call?

Our neutral face (a.k.a. the face we make when we’re not really doing anything) is not something we’re completely aware of. The general assumption is that if we’re not feeling anything on the inside that it’d show exactly that: nothingness.

But for some people, their resting neutral faces offend. Labelled the ‘resting bitch face’ (RBF), these faces just appear unfriendly or mean to other people — though the wearer doesn’t mean it.

Blame it on the angle of the eyes and mouth

There are a few reasons someone could have an RBF. According to a behavioural neuroscientist, some people’s mouths naturally raise such that one side is higher than the other — and it looks like contempt.

On the other hand, downward-angled eyes and mouths can also make you look more tired and upset than you really are. Those are our Eeyore look-alikes.

Nothing wrong with looking like a bitch sometimes

If you’re trying to work on your RBF, a psychiatrist recommends exercising your head, throat or ears to increase your vagal tone. In infants, higher vagal activity is correlated with expressions of joy and interest

Here, you’re basically trying to tone your facial muscles to express responsive, positive emotions.

Another option is simply to own it! RBF poses have been an Instagram trend these days. Plus, unlike the main character of a movie, we’re not being watched all the time, and it’s just unnecessarily stressful having to worry about looking nice all the time. You don’t owe everyone a smile — so we say don’t sweat the small stuff, and wear that RBF proudly.


Tiffany is a writer who reads Lorde’s lyrics and calls it practice. She likes her pills served with croffles (that’s a croissant waffle, for the unsophisticated.)