So this viral parody video in the style of a medical commercial diagnoses “bitchy resting face” as the “condition” of having a face that looks “kind of thoughtfully sad or angry for no reason.” I watched the video when it turned up in my Facebook feed, and most of the resting faces at the beginning did not look bitchy to me at all. They just kind of looked like… faces. I was initially confused, wondering when the part with the bitchy faces was going to come. This is because I am used to the faces people have in Germany, where it is socially acceptable to walk around looking “thoughtfully sad or angry” rather than smiling incessantly for no reason. Speaking as a person whose own resting face is, well, I’ve always thought of it as more “dour” than “bitchy”, I mostly experience this as a huge relief. When I lived in America I could not venture out of doors without being told by (invariably male) strangers to cheer up or that I would be prettier if I smiled or come on things aren’t so bad or that it can’t be so hard to smile, can it? One of my favorite things about Berlin is that I can walk down the street with whatever face I damn well please and nobody will ever tell me to smile. It’s fun to imagine one of these American men who like to police the facial expressions of strangers (who are these dudes, anyway?) being plunked down in the middle of a German – or better yet, Russian – city. In such a sea of unsmiling faces he wouldn’t know where to start; steam would come out of his ears. Ideally it would be late winter. Around about February the faces of Berlin reach such curdling heights of sourness that even I find it a bit hard to take. The scowls of others are a small price to pay, though, for being left in peace with my own dour face.