Queering the Triathlete (and Other Discomforts)

A Melancholy Zebra determined to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Resting Bitchface, ASL, and BPD


I have what some like to call a Resting Bitchface. When I’m simply sitting around in no mood in particular, I look like I’m brooding. I look like something is up. I look pissed. 

In frustration a few years ago I asked a friend why no one hit on me. Granted, that did not and does not bother me much, but I was still curious why it didn’t happen. I’m reasonably attractive. I have reasonable sized tits. What’s up? He told me: ” you just look… intimidating.” Answer: you have a Resting Bitchface.

I have little to no awareness of how my face appears when I’m not paying attention to it. 

Allow me to present a day in the life of one who suffers from Resting Bitchface (RBF). It’s quite true. I could be at the concert for a favorite band of all time and still look like Queen Elizabeth II at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, an event I imagine she thought was quite extraordinary:

Queen Elizabeth II with Resting Bitchface


Nonetheless, this has become a problem as I begin to learn American Sign Language. That is one expressive fucking language! It’s halfway in the face; whatever message you mean to convey ends up in your facial expression. Are your eyebrows raised or furrowed? If you’re thinking about your response, are you indicating it with pursed lips? If you’re surprised or ticked or excited or curious, do you look it? Does your face match your meaning?

Shit. I don’t know. My face does its own thing.

And it needs to stop if I’m going to learn this language properly.

Usually when I sit down to meditate, I first focus on spinal alignment, relaxing my shoulders, tucking my pelvis a little to counter trained-boob-thrust but not too much to counter in-front-of-the-computer-slouch, and setting my hands in such a way that they won’t get cold but the palms won’t sweat, either. I never pay attention to my face. When I attempt to do so now, I notice furrowed brows, pressed lips, tense jaw, etc., i.e. all of the signs of RBF.


This is not to say that RBF needs fixing. Frankly, it probably saves me a lot of hassle from people approaching me in public. (That sounds mean. If someone needs something, approach by all means. But I’m super awkward around strangers. It might save us both an uncomfortable encounter if you ask directions from someone else.) But now I’m… attempting to cultivate an awareness of RBF. If nothing else, it might save me a few forehead wrinkles in the future. At best, I’ll learn how to turn it on and off properly rather than forcing out smiles and pleasant expressions to ease the public mind. For now, it helps make the ASL facial gymnastics a little less unnatural.


… did anyone ever watch Lie to Me? I loved that TV show. The characters were great. Nonetheless, I wanted to learn to do what Cal Lightman did: read faces. He noticed as microexpressions flitted across people’s features and called them on their bullshit.


Calling people on their bullshit is nice. Knowing how people respond to you is even better. One of the lovely side effects of BPD is… unintentional exaggeration of folks’ responses. Either they’re happy or upset. Love you or hate you.  Black or white. If I ask someone a favor randomly, sometimes I’ll mistake surprise for anger and assume I bothered them at an inappropriate time. I’ll see disgust. Contempt. I’ll see all the bad ones. I see those six at once as if someone decided to make a Fuck You Smoothie with microexpressions and threw it on my shirt.

Maybe cultivating this awareness in my own face might help interpret other faces, get the imaginary smoothie stains out. Maybe ASL will help. Maybe this will all go sideways, and I’ll look even harder for shit that isn’t there, but that’s what mindfulness can help with, also. Non-judgment. Being in the present. Dispelling the Three No-Nos of desire, aversion, and delusion. Blah blah blah.

I’m trying.


For the Love of Metta,


P.S. Can we all take a bow for Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae’s stunning performance in the Ironman World Championships this morning? Kienle ran an amazing race (of which we saw maybe 80% because IM live coverage seems incredibly gender-biased, and I am almost never the first one to honk the gender horn), but that come-from-14-min-behind-off-the-bike-marathon-record-win was one of the most incredible things I’ve seen. Well fucking done, Rinny. I wish the women’s coverage weren’t so shitty that day so we could have seen more of Ryf’s new girl badassery and Rinny’s 9th-to-1st mow-down.


4 thoughts on “Resting Bitchface, ASL, and BPD

  1. Yah, watch politicians’ lips the longer they stay in office. Almost uniformely, they look like they are going to swallow their lips via an upside-down-smile-suck (like “DON”T SAY A WORD!”). Sucked in lives. Yet, I’ve had, and sometimes still do, a RBF. I say “had” because we know that inner subtle energy manifests into gross physical energy of the physical form. So I look down and depressed, or angry and resistant . . . all because I feel that way! But I don’t have to identify with those ephemeral clouds of feelings coming and going. When I do, they stick in me, and my face scrunches mean. Up to me to change that. I like your aspiration to mindfulness of RBF. Good wisdom for me. Thank you.
    mickey morgan

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Probably a correlation between BPD and RBF. I know two cluster b s at the moment. Both female. Both have RBF big time.


  3. How happy I was to find this – I just finished ASL 101 and part of my exam was a videotape of me doing The Gum Story. I had all the signs right, but my facial expressions weren’t there. It’s sobering how often went into RBF. My mark was reflective of that.

    I knew it was going to be a challenge when I started the course and found out that upwards of 50% of the language is facial expression. My final exam was last night. We’ll see how I did, but I suspect the RBF will be part of it. I’ll move to other languages where this isn’t so much of an issue. Good luck with your journey.


  4. Pingback: The Top Six. Thanks, BPD… | Queering the Triathlete (and Other Discomforts)

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