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What I Feel When Everyone Asks Me To Smile

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What I Feel When Everyone Asks Me To Smile

During the exam period, anyone can find me studying at Starbucks from the time they open till they close. And every day when someone I know passes me, they’ll say “Marina, you should stop studying and smile once in awhile. Maybe then more guys will ask you out”. I don’t think anyone has any idea of how annoying that is – that I have to smile every day when men pass by me. It’s 2015- how can this still be going on? But alas, there are people who think if we smile at them just to be nice we are inviting them in for a sexual act.

According to Muhammad Rizalman Ibrahim, a former defence attaché, he claims that “it was a Malaysian custom that women who smile are inviting men to follow them”.

Umm no, it’s not. I doubt that is any country’s custom. Honestly, the thought of that is frightening. People would have to think twice to smile at strangers.

I know people say, us young adults, we are the revolution, and we’re going to bring the change the world needs, but there are people among us who still have these primitive mindsets. I went out dancing one night with some friends, and I happened to smile at a guy, he flirted and danced with me, but I showed signs that I was not interested in anything other than to dance. With a scrunched up face and a hint of anger, he departed my company to swoop down on some other smile.

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To be quite frank, I was fine with that. I just wanted to have fun with my friends that night. However, the next day over brunch I told one of my friends what had happened, and he said, “Well you smiled at him, so he obviously thought you wanted to have sex with him. You brought this on yourself”. Umm, when did smiling become an invitation for sex?

I’m not just singling out females here; I’m talking about everyone, boys and girls, who just naturally have an emotionless face. People think that if someone doesn’t smile, they’re mean, and they hate you. I’ve gotten that comment far too often. “I thought you didn’t like me the first time I met you because you didn’t want to smile at me”. It’s not that I didn’t want to smile at you, that’s just how my face is. I am honestly a very happy person, and I’ve seen other very happy people who go through this exact situation. We just have an emotionless face, but trust me we are friendly people!

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Besides, smiling is not the way to appear friendly to someone. You could hold a door open for someone (and swallow it down when they don’t say thank you), wish him or her a good morning, or even when you first meet someone, you shake his or her hand. The point is that there are so many things in this world that we can do to appear friendly and polite to strangers, and it’s preposterous to think that smiling is the only way to do so.

People nowadays have this notion that smiling is the only way to appear friendly or worse, happy. Whenever I don’t smile, people assume I am upset or sick. It’s honestly frustrating when you constantly ask people to smile. Asking someone to smile would now appear negative rather than the positive that smiles stand for.

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From all this, I can say that it’s quite frightening and annoying what people think about smiles. People with an emotionless face do exist, and it’s not a compliment to ask us to smile just for your pleasure or for anyone else’s for that matter. And it’s not the only way to be polite. But no matter what, people will constantly tell us to smile for others. It’s like we’re being set up. If we smile it’s bad, and if we don’t it’s bad too.

Featured photo credit: Maxal Tamor via shutterstock.com

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