Why we need to stop telling women to smile more - GulfToday

Why we need to stop telling women to smile more


Zendaya poses for a picture.

Gulf Today Report

It’s one of the oldest micro-aggressions in the book, and this week 'Euphoria' star Zendaya spoke for many women when she opened up about being perceived as “cold” and “mean” simply because she was wasn’t happy, smiling and chatty all day long.

During an interview with GQ, Zendaya bravely admitted she’d struggled with shyness since childhood, saying it is still something she grapples with, even recalling a time when a stylist commented on it.

"In this industry, I had to learn how to do small talk and stuff, because I guess I would kind of come off cold to people," she said. "I remember my stylist was like, 'You come off kind of cold. People think you're mean because you don't talk,' when really I just was too nervous."

A couple of years ago, the actor was slammed on social media as moody and a b***h when she was photographed looking straight-faced at London Fashion Week while Blake Lively and Emily Blunt giggled raucously next to her, according to the Independent.

Zendaya	1 Zendaya seen at an event.

Zendaya’s response?  “I WAS LOOKING AT THE RUNWAY,” she posted on Twitter. And fair enough – it was fashion week, after all.

But this isn't about being unable to ever pass comments or enquire about someone's facial expressions. It's about something women face daily. Whether walking to the shops or concentrating during a Zoom meeting, women are constantly told to cheer up or smile. And if we refuse? Then we’re rude or moody.

Not another feminist rant, I hear you cry, but gender stereotypes are everywhere. They’re in the language that we use, the way we behave towards women and the way we perceive the women around us.

Zendaya – a world-famous, highly successful actor and singer – was so impacted by comments about her expressions, that she felt forced to rehearse small talk even after admitting her shyness is so severe she’s been to counselling – and all so people don’t assume she’s “cold”.

If women as incredibly talented as Zendaya are being impacted, then what do the rest of us have to be smiling about?

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