The RBF (Resting Bitch Face) Key Chain was originally released in collaboration with Good Support. Since that project has concluded and we have re-released it as a necklace on our website, I decided to share the story of my RBF piece here on our blog.
It is a personal story, which isn't my comfort zone. My life is the place that I design from and I am working on sharing a little more of that this year. If something resonates with you, perhaps it is just the aesthetics. Maybe though, it comes from a deeper connection. I like to think that sometimes it does.
I am learning the importance of sharing the sides of life that are bumpy. The way that I arrive at what I present to the world isn't always easy or perfect. Sometimes it's ugly and painful and really fucking scary. I know I'm not alone in that. If we are lucky, we see our truest selves in the times that challenge us. If we are really lucky, we are able to take a step closer to self acceptance and maybe even self-love. Adversity has taught me that I am equal parts vulnerable and strong and that there really isn't one without the other.
So, with that in mind, here is my the story of the design of the RBF piece, as it appeared on the Good Support website.
I have always been told that I make a strange impression on people. I'm not overly bubbly or quick to offer a lot of myself to a stranger. I've been told I'm cold and stoic. I have been told I'm unapproachable. Surprise, surprise … I've been called bossy. I've also been called a bitch.
"I don't think she likes me,” is a thing people say about me a lot. I've definitely been told I should smile more.
I've been made to feel bad about my nature as a person. Like I should change in order to make people more comfortable.
Why are women expected to act in a way that pleases others? They shouldn't speak their minds or express their feelings too openly. They should be more accommodating, more welcoming. They should put people at ease. They shouldn't be confident or strong or too occupied with the reality of life, to offer a smile and giggle to a complete stranger.
I'll just never be a smile and giggle kind of person.
I started carving my two resting bitches after a very difficult year. On January 1st of 2016, my husband was taken to the hospital in an ambulance for what turned out to be the beginning stages of a grand mal seizure. The seizure was caused by a mass on his brain and ten days later he had brain surgery to remove a tumor the size of a lime. The tumor turned out to be cancer. My husband has brain cancer.
In the midst of all of this, I was again told how I made a stranger feel weird or intimidated or not as warm and fuzzy as they had hoped. The gift that adversity gives you is the ability to give absolutely no fucks. And, for the first time, I saw these observations for what they really are, not my problem.
It's not my fault. If I don't want to smile, I don't have to.
I know I'm not a mean, cold or aggressive person. I am strong, confident, smart, funny, warm and loving. Confidence and strength are not flaws. Intimidating is not something that I am, it is something that is projected on to me. It is not my job to make a stranger feel comfortable meeting a woman like me.
I carved these faces as a practice in acceptance. I'm proud of my resting bitches. One of the faces is introspective, eyes closed, looking in. The other is eyes wide open, determined and ready for whatever is coming her way.
Stop telling women to smile.
Thank you Gretchen for connecting with the design and sentiment. And for giving me a platform to tell this story and introduce the piece to the world. Resting bitch faces forever.
Update for January 2018: This month marks two years since my husband's brain surgery and tumor resection. The cancer is dormant and he is doing well. He is part of the OHSU Blood Brain Barrier program and every three months we review new perfusion scans of his brain. We live with a perpetual unknown but we are happy to be alive and together.