In Defense Of Kristen Stewart And Not Smiling All The Time At Work

Kristen Stewart is having an interesting week. She has another box office hit with Snow White and the Huntsman but she was attacked by the media for her awkward speech at the MTV Movie Awards. She is on the cover of this month’s Vanity Fair and the most interesting that everyone is focusing on from that interview is that she is remarking on the fact that she is not known for her happy persona, specifically for not smiling. Though I will have a lot of arguments against me, I am going to support Kristen Stewart in her right to not to smile constantly. It may be hurting her business a bit but I think women, especially young ones, more so than men, are unfairly expected to display happiness all the time and get attacked when they don’t. And it doesn’t matter if you are a movie star or a secretary.

“I have been criticized a lot for not looking perfect in every photograph. I get some serious sh*t about it. I’m not embarrassed about it. I’m proud of it. If I took perfect pictures all the time, the people standing in the room with me, or on the carpet, would think, What an actress! What a faker!” Kristen said in the July issue of Vanity Fair. She explained that it is her anxiety over not appearing real that causes her not to smile.  “That thought embarrasses me so much that I look like sh*t in half my photos, and I don’t give a f**k. What matters to me is that the people in the room leave and say, ‘She was cool. She had a good time. She was honest.’” Even her boyfriend, actor Robert Pattinson, said, “”People have decided how they are going to perceive her. No matter how many times she smiles, they’ll put in the one picture where she’s not smiling.”

Women from the time they are young girls and are told if they are not smiling, that they should be. I remember as a little girl being asked by strangers on the street what was wrong because I didn’t have a full-on grin. Perhaps I was thinking about something sad? Maybe I was disappointed with the Disney adaptation of Beauty & the Beast. I probably was fine, as I had a rather nice childhood,  I just didn’t feel like putting in the energy to smile all the time. On average children smile about 400 times a day so no smile on a child is certainly more noticeable, especially considering that adults only smile an average of 15 times a day. But even today I am told to smile more and not look so serious. Now I do have dark brown hair and pale skin (most of the time) which contributes to my rather serious look but I don’t consider myself a particularly serious person. But when I’m at work, unless I am meeting a new person or giving a presentation, why do I need to look like the joker from Batman? In some ways, I think it is because I am a woman (on the younger side) so I am expected to look happy.

Now, yes, Kristen Stewart is a public figure and is in a very glamorous industry full of bright, bubbly women that will smile until the cows come home (hello Lea Michele.) But I don’t think you can say that Kristen’s career is slowing down as a result of her facial movements or that she is less beautiful when she doesn’t smile.

Rooney Mara’s certainly isn’t. The Academy Award nominee was also criticized for not looking happy when she was promoting her film and doing the awards circuit.  Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter tweeted back in February, “I’m personally a little sick of Rooney Mara acting like it’s a horrible chore to have to do an interview, or show up at a tribute, or…attend an Oscar nominees luncheon. Stop sulking. You’re an Oscar nominee. If Meryl Streep is willing to do it, you can suck it up too.”

And I will say no one has once told epic brooders like Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Johnny Depp and James Franco (who barely smiled at all when he hosted The Oscars) have even been told they should smile more. It is absolutely a double standard. Yes, Kristen Stewart is horribly awkward and wears sneakers to awards shows and doesn’t smile a lot but shouldn’t we applaud her for being different? And aren’t women told they need to act more serious and macho to keep up with the big boys?

But what Kristen and I both do is make people think something is wrong when there isn’t. And we may give the impression that we are preoccupied or not confident because we are smiling which is bad for business. According to business expert Lydia Ramsey, a smile is one of the easiest ways to build your business. Not only do your customers feel good, you and your employees get the same positive benefit.

But if it isn’t coming from a genuine place then maybe it’s alright not to have a smile plastered to your face at all times.

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    • Esperanza

      I am constantly having that problem. I am n0t a smiler and I never really have been. For that reason I constantly have people asking me whats wrong or why am I so sad. I have been typed cast as a sad person because of that. What people don’t understand is that I do not need to walk around with a big smile on my face. Kristen Stewart had it on the mark when she said that she feels fake smiling all the time. We have all different kinds of emotions going on at all times and I don’t need to “pretend” by smiling all the time. I have even had people tell me that I would look prettier if I smiled more. To those people I said a big F-U I don’t need you. I didn’t need them to tell me that and for me to do that so I would be so called more “socially accepted”.

    • Daniela

      The whole ‘are you upset’ thing pisses me off. There are some people whose neutral facial expression is happy/smiling. And there are some people whose neutral expression is blank or stoic or even a little ticked off. Mine happens to be of the latter variety, and I just don’t have the energy to focus on my expression all the time, to make sure I’m smiling so that other people aren’t uncomfortable.

      It’s like, go look at pictures of people smiling if it bothers you that much, but leave my face alone.

    • Nicketa

      This is going to be long. Wow. Is this really about social acceptance? I don’t know what pressures Kristen’s received from Hollywood or the media but I do know how it ‘seems’.

      How can I put this. First of all, when Kristen smiles, she doesn’t look any different to me. Something about her body mannerisms and there’s a look in her eyes that STILL says, ‘this is crap, I wanna get out of here’. The MOST comfortable and genuine I have ever seen her act is in the Twilight movies, (did Robert have anything to do with it perhaps? :-D). I think though that mainly it was because her character Bella is much like she ‘seems’ to be. Moody, withdrawn, teenager. Note, I said ‘seems’.

      Otherwise, and this has nothing to do with how women are taught or if women are supposed to smile more and double standards and all that. I wasn’t taught like that so I can’t attest to it. I do know that if you give off a persona like ‘I don’t care, I don’t wanna be here’ ESPECIALLY if it ‘seems’ genuine (because you keep doing it over and over), you know, you just have this, ‘I just don’t wanna smile today’ attitude not sometimes because that’s okay! But ALL or the majority of the time, then the next question is, don’t you like your job, if you’re not having fun then why are you here? I’m not saying you have to have a fake barbie smile stuck to your face but it is possible to look pleased or content with what you are doing or where you are without showing ALL your teeth.

      Which brings me to my last point. I say again the Twilight series is Kristen’s best movies or any movie where she played a moody teenager because that’s how she acts like a moody teenager, and that moodiness is MANY times transferred to the characters that she plays in the movies and THAT I think could hurt her worse than not smiling. Please, that whole not smiling thing, that’s just idle entertainment news gossip. You don’t wanna smile, don’t. However, she could end up being type-cast if she doesn’t learn to develop a wider range in her facial expressions. Johnny Depp may not smile much or at all on the carpet but when he becomes a character in a movie, he BECOMES the character. His movements, his facial expressions, his voice everything becomes the character he’s playing, he doesn’t go into the scene the way he goes onto the carpet or in an interview or whatever.

      I have yet to see that from Kristen. Same face since her Panic Room and Zathura days. On screen or off. No wait I take that back, in Panic Room she showed real promise, I don’t know what happened afterward.

      If she really thinks that people are going to think she’s fake if she’s smiling too much when she doesn’t want to smile then I think, first, even though she says that she doesn’t ‘give a f**k’ clearly she does or else she wouldn’t be having anxiety about it, “oh, I wanna smile but then they’ll think that I’m fake so maybe I shouldn’t but wait maybe I should, they’ll think that I don’t care, no wait” ?? No matter what you do somebody will have something to say! And secondly, if that’s how you feel, skip the carpet/interview thing then? Or leave early if you HAVE to come and go do something that makes you smile, because evidently this doesn’t ‘seem’ too. (yeah this post really long)

      • Pam

        Honestly I don’t know where the problem is. Kristen smiles A LOT. It’s not so difficult to find pictures in which she smiles and she’s happy. It’s not like there is only one picture on 1000 in which she smiles. The internet is FULL of picture of Kristen’s smiles and I don’t know on what you’re basing your opinion.
        Her smile reaches her eyes and I don’t know what kind of pictures you saw,because she’s so radiant when she smiles.
        It seems that the media plump this “thing”,when actually there is not so much to talk about,because when I see Kristen during interviews or tv shows,she couldn’t be more radiant and happy,so when I read people discussing on “why Kristen Stewart never smiles”,I’m just like “what are you talking about? Did we see two different version of the same girl or did you say she never smiles just because people labled her as a grungy girl”?
        BTW I agree with the article. Nobody complains when men don’t smile. They never smile,but when it comes to Kristen or Rooney Mara,it’s a big deal. It’s pretentious to think to know what Kristen and Rooney feel and think,just looking at a picture.

      • Penny

        Wow… you really spend A LOT of time thinking about Kristen Stewart, don’t you?

        Go to a shrink. (No offense. It is a well intended advice)

        Smile! :-)

    • Ally

      I just wanted to say how wonderful and spot on this article was. I have the same problem in my job, if I’m not smiling 100% of the time, I’m asked what’s wrong with me. Or why am I in such a filthy mood. Apparently concentration is to be performed with a perma-grin on one’s face. It’s all I can do sometimes not to yell at them all to leave me be. Instead, I put a ridiculously over the top, fake grin on my face and stare at them til they walk away. Hasn’t failed once.

      More power to Kristen Stewart. She’s a kickass chick, and the world needs to give her break, lay off the hate.
      Thanks for a beautiful article.

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    • Robin

      I don’t care if she doesn’t smile in her personal life, but what right does she have to ruin a whole film? Snow White was totally ruined because she just couldn’t smile at the end. The shot required a smile. She doesn’t want to be fake? Hello?! She is an “actress”, her job is to make up believe this character she is playing is real.

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    • Ray

      I don’t agree that it is a gender double standard. I don’t smile and I hear about it all the time, exclusively from women, strangers even will say “smile” or ask me why I’m not smiling. I usually just glare at them and say “I am”. Most of the time it shuts them up. I’m single. Surprised?

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