Black Women's Improvement Project (BWIP)

BWIP (Black Women’s Improvement Project) Part II: Why Don’t We Smile?!

My writing ace boon, Janice Roshalle Littlejohn, passed this article to me last week, and I gotta thank her because before she sent it I had a serious case of I’m-too-lazy-to-think-of-something-brilliant-itis.

The author touched on a key character trait–not smiling– that we black ladies are oft labeled with. Why in Hades don’t we (and when I say we I really mean you, and YOU know who YOU are!) use the good cheek muscles God gave us and crack a smile?

Now, I know that much of this not smiling stuff is self-protective. Even though I wasn’t raised there, it’s a pretty safe bet that you can’t go around the ghetto smiling like the Cheshire cat without somebody mistaking it as an invitation for ass-up on the pool table with Pooky and ’em.

I remember the ‘tough black girl’ crowd back in high school, the unsmiling, quick-to-fight chicks with hair you’d have to take a geometry lesson before you tried it at home…

Yeah, girls like that hated me. I guess I smiled too much for their taste. Or maybe it was those three and four-syllable words I used sometimes that ticked them off to the point of fabricating reasons to try to beat me up. Fab-ri-cat-ing…oops! I did it again. Meh. I give up.

I dragged in a super-high-profile body language expert who–get this–specializes in INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION.

Patti Wood, body language extraordinaire

Patti Wood MA,CSP is called “The Gold Standard of body language experts by the Washington Post. She is professional speaker, researcher and author
of Success Signals. She consults with Fortune 500 Companies, Law Enforcement and the Media. Her expertise in body language is sought by hundred of media outlets from FOXNEWs and CNN and the History Channel to Regis and Kelly, US weekly and Cosmo.

What she has to say about our collective not-smiling reputation is no beuno. “An angry face does get a different response than an appeasing smile. It can feel empowering. But at a great cost.” (yeah, and a BIG FAT TOLL on our love lives) And before any of you get in here all defensive and say, “I smile!” just remember that cloning is still in the experimental stages, okay?

Want more? Here’s what else she said:

“A sneer is a prickly protective armor. You won’t be stomped on, but your may keep people to far away to touch and hold you close. It may feel like it empowers you. Tyler Perry gets laughs by showing angry bitchy sneering non-smiling women. The title character in the Stephan King Movie Deloris Claiborne says, “Sometimes being a bitch is all your have to hold on to.” Sometimes the black angry women in Tyler Perry’s movies just complain, but often the angry “bitch” is energized to powerful destructive action.

The iconic defiant sneer on the wife in the movie, Waiting to Exhale, comes to mind. She goes from a happy, smiling wife to a sneering ragging tiger getting mad enough at her unfaithful husband that she takes all his clothes and goodies like his golf clubs and piles them on his Mercedes and sets them on fire. The sneer on her face, along with her defiant upraised chin as she watches the flames climb, seemed to say to black women,stop smiling and taking it, get angry and start fighting.”

Okay, you just got the bad news. I’m going to let you chew on the gristle a bit and keep you in suspense for Patti Wood Continued, where I highlight the BENEFITS biochemically, physically and romantically of smiling MORE.

Maybe it will be tomorrow.

I might just draw this out a bit just to make you mad.

Wait…you’re not smiling. I can’t really tell if you mad or not.

Just forget it then and check back tomorrow.

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