I’m one of those girls who is accused of having a “resting bitch face.” When I was a senior in high school, holding executive positions in various clubs, I was told that younger classmen were afraid to approach me because I didn’t smile or laugh a lot (in my opinion, unnecessarily). I wondered for a long time whether I should care, whether that meant I should smile more to come across as friendlier, even though those who did know me well knew I was perfectly friendly. Then when I started working for a magazine, the editor-in-chief, a woman who went to my college and the most soft-spoken person I’ve ever met on the planet (seriously, I had to crane every time she spoke), made me realize that as a woman, you don’t have to be the funniest, loudest one in the room to be heard, and you certainly don’t have to be the funniest, loudest one in the room to succeed.
It seems difficult for a woman to come across as unliked. Men never seem to have a problem coming across as ruthless or self-serving in their pursuit of success while women have had a history of having to pander to others' tastes (cue subservient Asian housewives, or Victorian Etiquette of the 1800s). As a result, nowadays fun, charismatic women are considered lovable while those with a steelier personality are considered, well, bitchy. So I found the rise of power women incredibly refreshing. I mean, if I lived in the aforementioned bygone era, I probably would have been destined to be alone forever in a dungeon.
But perhaps the most fascinating case studies to me are Victoria Beckham and Angelina Jolie, who dwell in the entertainment industry where their primary job is to be liked. These are women have been misunderstood as mean, unfriendly, and wild. In a recent 73 Questions by Vogue I saw on Victoria Beckham, sure, she never really smiled as was expected, but she was kind, generous, strong and serious, and I like to think that this list of attributes is enough for anyone, man or woman, to look up to, without an award-winning smile or excessive personableness added to it. On the other side of the pond, while the tabloids are still busy pitting her against her blonder, "sweeter" rival, Jennifer Aniston ten years later, Angelina Jolie, once infamous wild child, has now turned serious director of somber movies and professional humanitarian. She too, does not appear on video interviews often, but when she does, she is soft-spoken, somewhat reserved, yet thoughtful and kind.
Though they both once thrived in the entertainment industry, what allowed them to break the mold was their ability to not let others’ like or dislike of them define them. As a result, they were able to channel their don't-give-a-fuck energy into building their respective empires. With the campaign to view powerful women as a #girlboss as opposed to "bossy," hopefully the lifted stigma will allow girls to see that while sometimes one would be wise to heed the advice of others, sometimes there's something equally empowering and immensely more liberating about not giving a damn.