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Last Updated on July 26, 2016


Charlize Theron may have it. Kristen Stewart (pictured at far left) looks like she’s got it. And lots of people would say Victoria Beckham (right) has it awful. Dermatologists call it “perma frown.” A favorite YouTube video gave it a considerably more “street” name: bitchy resting face, affectionately called BRF.

It turns out there are now a lot of women who stress that their face that is neutral is not neutral – they know they may look standoffish, angry, or even mean. Concerns run high, some seek even plastic surgery and dermatological interventions to put their lips into more of an upturned grin.

“There is no proper term ‘perma frown’ in dermatology, but it probably gets used in offices consistently when a patient comes in complaining about it, or a dermatologist is attempting to explain to the patient what her options are for addressing her issues of individuals always thinking she seems unhappy or angry,” said Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH, a New York City-based dermatologist.

You’ve perma frown when:

  • The downward corners of your mouth create a look of frowning even at rest.
  • You’ve a lower and heavier eyebrow resting height, plus permanent frown lines between your eyebrows.
  • Hollows under your eyes cause you to appear to be sad or dejected constantly, when in fact you aren’t even tired.

“There are several facial features that we [people] read both consciously and subconsciously on each other’s faces that pinpoint the subtle details of social interaction,” Dr. Kant described. “‘Perma frown’ is an expression that captures all of the facial features jointly in one term.”

A Comic Using An All-Natural Scowl Makes a YouTube Splash

Comedian Taylor Orci says that tell her to grin and strangers have come up to ask her what’s wrong, and she was one of those individuals who has always had a natural scowl, even when happy. So she created and starred in a funny short video on bitchy resting face that has gotten more than three and a half million viewpoints on YouTube and brought BRF to widespread public attention.

“Bitchy resting face is not about the individual’s face, it as regarding the people that perceive the face to be disagreeable,” said Orci. “I imagine that is why it’s funny and why the video was so popular.” She thinks women in particular feel forced about their looks, as well as in some ways are blamed “for having faces that aren’t naturally pleasant all the time.” It is designed to be a spoofy public service announcement with a pithy message in defense of women who don’t look and smile gleeful all the time.

Some experts appear to believe that there’s a societal and emotional component to perma frown that we should pay attention to, although orci considers these women should be left in peace.

The Face as the Window to Feelings

“When someone consistently appears to be frowning, even though they themselves do not realize it, it can change regions of their lives they do not even consider,” said Kant.

Therapists and psychologists see perma frown as not merely a dermatological problem.

“Expressions are a measure of how we feel inside, and people are born with certain predispositions to carry their facial expression in a specific way,” said Simon Rego, PhD, Director of the CBT [Cognitive Behavioral Therapy] Training Program at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Ny.

“Occasionally it is biological or genetic as well as other times mental or learned, but even in the case of the latter, all of US have a tendency to reveal — and identify — the same facial expressions as being tied to particular emotions,” said Dr. Rego. “For instance, [in psychological tests] most individuals will guess that someone is depressed when shown a photo of someone frowning, and will even pick the face that is frowning when requested to identify a person who might be depressed in some graphics.”

SEE ALSO:  8 Ways to Heal Injury and Melancholy

However, for many people, BRF can be a method to hide true feelings. One Hollywood shrink implies that it’s a strategy of stars. “It’s truly a standard occurrence among Hollywood celebrities,” says Sheenie Ambardar, MD, a psychiatrist based in West Hollywood. “I think it can signal a bit of self-absorption and also a touch of insecurity, but not necessarily a serious mental problem. People who grin readily may or may not be any more happy than people who don’t smile easily. There is absolutely no way to know for sure exactly what you were thinking and feeling within, despite their external look.”

Does BRF Have Both — or Mental or Physical Causes?

Kant says many things bring to perma frown. “It can result from genetic factors in skin quality, anatomic factors in muscle layout below the skin, not to mention lifestyle factors,” she said. “This includes smoking, sun damage, along with other variables that create more wrinkles. Also, skin folds can exaggerate a tendency toward it that starts genetically in youth.”

Lisa Bahar, LMFT, LPCC, a family therapist, in Dana Point, Calif., thinks facial changes like BRF can be caused by our emotions. “Expressions are generally predicated on physiological sensations, which are directly correlated to emotions,” said Bahar. The emotion could be hopelessness, despair, or anger, rage, envy, jealousy, loneliness, despair. Physiological senses which are expressed in our faces can be created by these emotions. “How we see the planet is expressed in our facial expressions, which is read mostly from the expression in the eyes and the mouth,” she said.

By the same token, can perma frown cause someone to feel depressed or bad?

“There’s been some research that suggests that emotions and also the facial expressions that go together with them are bidirectionally influenced,” said Rego. “In other words, there’s a two-way street between emotions and facial expressionsThe Majority Of people understand that they smile when they feel happy and frown when they feel unhappy. But few know that when the facial muscles that are utilized to produce a grin are activated it can generate feelings of happiness. From the same token, when the facial muscles that are utilized to make a frown are activated it may generate feelings of despair.”

Fixing Her Frown Lines Made This Woman Grin

She decided she wished to make some changes, when Ashley Kingsley of Denver began the journey toward 40. The dent in her forehead was one thing. It was inherited from her father, and worsened by squinting over the years, she said. But toward transforming her appearance as she began the journey she recognized there was another issue: BRF. The transformation was begun by her !

“I am a pretty happy man,” said the married mother of two in an interview. She blogs about her encounters in Journey to 40. ” I didn’t enjoy it when I looked in the mirror. It changed my self-esteem. I was hoping to feel a lot better about myself when looking in the mirror in getting the work done. This has been achieved.”

“I truly have BRF because of genetics rather than wearing my spectacles; from endless squinting through the years. But I don’t think it’s impacted me profoundly internally. Now, I’m willing begin taking some power and to search inside. So, I’m focusing on Me. I just so happened to start in the dermatological degree,” she said.

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