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Why does being asked to smile irk me so much?

(73 Posts)
Ducknose Fri 29-Sep-17 18:05:43

Can somebody please explain, because I can't really vocalise it or put my finger on it.
It really winds me up when men say 'smile, love' or tell me to cheer up, in an otherwise perfectly normal encounter (I'm not crying or acting upset). It used to happen a lot more back in the day when I worked in retail, and I was reminded of it earlier when I overheard a man say to a cashier 'do I get a smile and a kiss with that?' Grrr!
I've posted it here because I've never heard a woman say it, and can't imagine a man saying it to another man :/

Bluerose27 Fri 29-Sep-17 18:10:17

Someone will be along to explain better than me but is it that men feel they have the right to demand how you present yourself in public. And that the way you present yourself must be cheerful.

And you're right, they'd never say it to another man because men are allowed present themselves however they want.

YesVeryGoodVeryStrong Fri 29-Sep-17 18:11:08

Because it basically tells you that your purpose is to be pretty and decorative and nice to look at, regardless of how you might be feeling?

C0untDucku1a Fri 29-Sep-17 18:11:14

because it is fucking rude and entitled.

Trills Fri 29-Sep-17 18:17:42

Because you'll smile if you FEEL LIKE IT.

Lottapianos Fri 29-Sep-17 18:23:01

It's suggesting that you only exist for their viewing pleasure, and that you must look pretty and pleasant at all times. It's also letting you know that they're watching you. Creepy entitled assholes angry

My mother also used to order me to smile so it's not just a 'man thing'. It's humiliating and belittling whoever does it

Trills Fri 29-Sep-17 18:24:23

Not only do you exist for men to look at, but if you are doing it wrong they are entitled to instruct you in how to do it better.

Elendon Fri 29-Sep-17 18:33:28

Because you have never

Asked an adult male stranger to smile
You have never asked a teenage male stranger to cheer up and smile
You have never complimented a strange man on looking cheerful and relaxed
You have never looked at a year 6 male stranger (10/11) and said to them, wow, how grown up you are

TrueSojourner Fri 29-Sep-17 18:37:04

The only person who ever said this to me was a woman. Actually stopped me in traffic so I had to wind down my window. Stupid woman.

theendisnotnigh Fri 29-Sep-17 18:46:46

Infuriating isn't it OP?
It does get better - once you start to hit late 40s / 50s, generally the comments stop. And once you are in your 60s, you are totally invisible.
(time to start causing real trouble ) grin

AssassinatedBeauty Fri 29-Sep-17 18:55:20

"Do I get a smile and a kiss with that" is vile. Just why exactly do women/girls have to put up with this crap when going about normal life?

I sometimes try and imagine the mindset of men who do this, and I really can't. I never say anything to anyone like that. The most personal I might get is a compliment about their hair or clothes or something, if we'd had a friendly chat and I felt it wouldn't be intruding to say something personal, and I was really impressed with their hair/clothes etc. But ordering someone to smile, or to cheer up? It's idiotic, entitled and usually rooted in sexism.

Ducknose Fri 29-Sep-17 18:55:41

Thanks everyone.
Ughhh I knew I had reason to feel peed off. It's not like I can really give a 'comeback' (this is how I came to ask this question, I was thinking of what I could say back), for risk of mortifying the men who say it, as they are usually older and I'm thinking it's kind of not their fault their generation is different?

AssassinatedBeauty Fri 29-Sep-17 18:58:20

Don't blame age! My dad is in his 70s and wouldn't dream of saying anything like that. Plus plenty of younger men do it too.

Why on earth would you worry about them being mortified? They don't care about you being mortified by their words!

Trills Fri 29-Sep-17 18:58:25

I have a different reason for not trying out any comebacks - because even men who start out speaking to you nicely often call you a bitch if you say you're not interested in them.

Men who start out by acting as if you are in the world for their amusement are unlikely to be nicer about being rejected or disagreed-with.

Anecdoche Fri 29-Sep-17 19:04:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

powershowerforanhour Fri 29-Sep-17 19:05:28

"Only if you dance for me to "cheer me up". I'm a little teapot will do. DANCE, MONKEY BOY, DANCE!"

AssassinatedBeauty Fri 29-Sep-17 19:09:29

@powershowerforanhour that is an excellent reply which I'll memorize! Although I'm sufficiently aged and mumsy these days so it doesn't tend to happen as much to me.

Datun Fri 29-Sep-17 19:24:28


Men who start out by acting as if you are in the world for their amusement are unlikely to be nicer about being rejected or disagreed-with.


If they whacked a tenner into your hand as they passed you and said I hope your day gets better, that is indicating that they are concerned for your mood.

Telling you to cheer up, or smile, is for them, not you.

And woe betide you if you don't. Because you're not fulfilling the expectation that you are there for them.

And I agree, it's an incredibly difficult thing to respond to. I quite like the I'll smile, if you dance response.

Heathen4Hire Fri 29-Sep-17 19:35:55

I work on the Tube and get this occasionally. I run small stations alone with minimal support so I rarely smile. Yet some c**ts think I am only there to look cheerful. Never mind I have a million things to do each day!

Elendon Fri 29-Sep-17 19:41:38

Can I ask Heathen do women ever ask you to do this?

Datun Fri 29-Sep-17 19:42:11


Exactly. It's just minimising you. Your smile is the sum total of who you are, as far as they are concerned.

Elendon Fri 29-Sep-17 19:44:27

I think that if you actually did give the distinct impression of being distressed at this request, they would run a mile.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Fri 29-Sep-17 19:45:32

This is my favourite response.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 29-Sep-17 19:52:18

* And I agree, it's an incredibly difficult thing to respond to*

If the 'pleasantry' is along the lines of 'smile, luv, it may never happen' then sadface and a grim 'it already has' can be (inwardly) amusing.

Datun Fri 29-Sep-17 19:55:46

It is difficult to respond to. You either act like a performing monkey, or you come across some kind of hopeless curmudgeon.


I'd love a man to come on here and explain why they say it.

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