Having a neutral facial expression is key to being human. Some women lament that their neutral, or “resting” face, is what is known as “bitch face.” They whine about their resting bitch face to their friends, they blame it for not keeping a significant other, and they write self-serving posts about it on their dumb blogs. But they don’t know what it’s like to have the resting face of the other kind of bitch. The dog kind.
I have resting dog face, and it’s ruining my life.
I have had this condition for as long as I can remember. All my baby pictures look like an adorable little puppy, since babies almost always have a neutral expression. The only pictures where I look like a human before the age of two are when I’m pooping or crying. That’s a whole part of my life that’s effectively erased due to my placid, resting dog-like appearance.
As a child, I would find adults and classmates staring at me quizzically whenever I wasn’t expressing an emotion, as if they wanted to pat me on the head. I spent most of my school years wondering why so many of my friends would throw sticks for me to fetch. It wasn’t until I got the diagnosis of Canis horrificus that reality set in. The doctor laid it out plainly, coldly, to me and my parents. Yes, she has resting dog face. No, there’s no cure. No, dogs are not allowed in my office, please take your dog outside. It was traumatizing and I pray that no other child ever has to go through what I went through.
When I first got my Canis horrificus diagnosis, I tried to hide from it. I thought, “As long as I’m always emoting, no one will ever know I have a resting dog face.” So I became the cartoonishly emotional one, all smiles and shrieks and furrowed brows. It was hard to remember to constantly keep it up, because unlike women with resting bitch face, men on the street don’t tell you to smile when they think you’re a dog.
I went through the daily gamut of so many facial expressions that I actually sprained my cheek muscles. And when I went home, I would finally get to dog-face until the swelling went down in my eyebrows. But it just wasn’t sustainable. I eventually fell in with the right circle of friends, all veterinary students, who accepted me for who I was. Now, they stick up for me when someone in the movie theater tries to offer me a Milkbone or check my collar for an ID tag.
Although I now know how to manage my RDF, life hasn’t been easy. You think you have a hard time keeping a man? The last time I went on a date, he was telling me a story, and as I listened, I saw his face contort with horror at the sight of mine. “Wow,” Mr. First Date interrupted himself. “Why do you look like a cocker spaniel right now?” I wasn’t sure if he was going to vomit or try and scratch my ears. He ended up doing both before we parted ways for good. While dogs are always humping me, I haven’t had sex in 11 years.
Despite living with chronic RDF, I’m staying optimistic. It’s not a death sentence, nor is it fully understood by science. So until mainstream medicine decides my condition is worth researching, I’m just going to keep on living. I know that I’ll be struggling with resting dog face for the rest of my life, but I’m finally brave enough to do the one command people have shouted at me my whole life: Speak.
And yes, I’m actually very human once you get to know me.