April 01, 2015

“Cheer Up Love”

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It happens a lot, actually. Walking down the street, or waiting at a bus stop, or when I’m glued to my phone frantically trying to look up an address. I’ll get a passer-by (and it’s always a guy) saying “cheer up, love” quick enough for me to frown and turn around: but then he’s gone. Vanished. It’s said in a way that is neither aggressive or encouraging. It’s just….bizarre. One minute I am alone, deep inside my own thoughts and then I hear a gravelly mutter and realise the comment was rude, and directed at me. I realise I should have said something but the moment’s gone. Because no one asked for this person’s opinion on my facial expression. And he’s marches on, chuckling to himself as he goes, swigging from a can of Pepsi.

Most of my female friends have a similar story. Sometimes it’s a variation on a theme: “smile, it might never happen!” or “give us a smile gorgeous” or something equally as audacious. Why do these certain type of men feel entitled to publicly comment on women’s appearances? It feels old-fashioned. Like women were put on the planet to look pretty and smile on demand. And do a curtsy while we’re at it.

This week alone (and ironically I’ve had a marvellous week) I’ve had it happened three times, with a creepy whisper past my ear: “cheer up beautiful”. It’s not a compliment. It’s just unnerving and strange. It’s an excuse to puff up their chests, without being openly lechy or rude. It’s the definition of a subtle dig. I doubt they’d say “cheer up love” to a random bloke who wondered past looking a bit pissed off. They’d probably get chinned.

Just as it’s not OK to comment on a woman’s arse when she’s going for a jog, or the size of her boobs when sat next to her on the bus, it’s not OK to go around telling women to “cheer up” or “put a smile on” just because you feel like it.

It’s not my fault I’ve got Resting Bitch Face. I often catch myself in a shop window and think I do probably look a bit miserable, and quickly straighten out my forehead frowns, but who goes walking down the road just grinning from ear to ear? No one. What matters is how you’re feeling, and obviously the other 99.999% of time I’m cackling my head off. Honking and snorting and being told to shh in the office because a colleague is on the phone.

If anyone has a good come-back let me know (I haven’t figured one out yet) and a note to those men: you’re ever feeling tempted to tell someone to “cheer up” because you feel like it’s your business to, maybe don’t. You never know if someone might genuinely not be in the mood to smile for a reason. You don’t know.

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  1. Ruth says:

    I’m so glad that someone else finds that so annoying!
    I’ve had it said to me a few times when I’m standing at a bar waiting for a drink, I’m trying to get the attention of whoever is serving the alcohol and some creepy fella shouts in my ear ‘cheer up love let me buy you a drink, me: no thanks I’m fine, creepy fella: go on just one, me: no thanks really I am ok, creepy fella: well you’re stuck up anyway *turns back to me and says the same thing to next lady*

  2. Lizzy says:

    I used to hate this happening to me. Luckily it hasn’t happened recently, but it’s so infuriating. It probably made me look even more miserable to be honest.

    Lizzy from Nomad Notebook

  3. Alice says:

    What bugs me is that women have resting bitch face, but the male equivalent is a normal expression. Why do women always have to look cheerful? Sometimes we feel emotionally neutral, happy on the inside or as you said, we’re just busy concentrating.

    I get told to cheer up a lot as well, it’s not a comment that brings out the best in me.

  4. Emma says:

    Glad it resonated…and yes ARGH that’s the worst. I totally know what you mean. It’s always when I’m probably a bit annoyed (like waiting in a queue) and what do they expect me to do, a happy dance? xxxx

  5. Emma says:

    SO true. I never know what to say though. I need a funny come-back line.

  6. Emma says:

    It’s true – men looking grumpy is just normal. A woman looking grumpy is not acceptable – the point where it needs to be pointed out. It baffles me.

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