That one may smile…

Apparently, It’s World Smile Day, originated by Harvey Ball, the commercial artist who came up with the ubiquitous smiley face in the 1960s. Perhaps Mr. Ball wasn’t a fan of Shakespeare: That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain. – Hamlet.

I’m not a fan of Mr. Ball’s smiley face, I’ve always hated that damn thing, and I’ve had a lifetime of seeing it everywhere, and it’s all over the bloody net, too. Give me Kilroy any day. As a girl, and a woman, I’ve been subjected to the “smile!” command my whole life, from those I know, and perfect strangers. You can’t go anywhere without getting that obnoxious command from someone, usually a man.

Smiles don’t necessarily mean one damn thing, especially as so many of us are expected to fake smile throughout the day no matter what. Out in public, you can rarely be lost in your thoughts without hearing “smile!” or “it can’t be that bad, smile!” Kindness, courtesy, and thoughtfulness can easily take place without a smile, as well as with one. If you have a genuine reason to smile, by all means, do so, but do we really need a smile command day?

As Shakespeare noted so long ago, a smile can easily mask villainy of all kinds. Those looking to con someone are known for their easy smiles. And so on. I also have little use for making shit like this a “day”. Great, so you’re gonna smile your way through this day, then what? Go back to being an asshole the other 364? Screw smiling. If you want to make a difference, work on small kindnesses whenever you’re out and about, if you can manage them, with or without the smile. That will stretch further, and have a good chain effect, rather than a bunch of people being smiley because it’s an ‘official day’. All this crap does is promote the artificial smile, and makes people think it’s perfectly okay to keep on with the “smile!” command aimed at people they don’t know. Please, don’t do that, and if someone is not smiling, perhaps they have reason not to do so, and refraining from insisting on a smile would be a small act of kindness.

Note: Anyone who decides it would be clever to pepper a comment with smiley faces will most likely find it edited.


  1. chigau (違う) says

    A long time ago on one of those police procedural TV shows the was a scene where one of the characters was walking by carry a bucket of blood and mucus and spittle.
    She had a huge grin on her face.
    Questioned by one of her co-workers about the smile, she replied,
    “Smiling supresses the gag reflex.”
    I’ve never cared whether it’s true, I like it.

  2. Curious Digressions says

    I haven’t gotten the “smile” command for a while, but back when I way young and conventionally decorative, I’d hear it ALL. THE. TIME. So irritating. My favorite response was looking up at the guy, almost always a guy, who was almost always creepily older, with wide eyes and say, “B-but… the cancer…” It was great black-humored fun to watch them scramble to back-track and disengage. Take those assumptions and privilege and smoke it, buddy.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    Amen x 100. I’ve never understood the smile commanders, or the sexists who assume this only happens to women.
    In the U.K. it’s noticeable (to me) that the “smile!” commanders are WAY more prevalent in the south than my native north west, thank Bod.

  4. busterggi says

    I feel pretty much the same about the Smiley Face but Watchmen wouldn’t have been the saem w/o it.

  5. says


    or the sexists who assume this only happens to women.

    No one here did that, and I am past tired of your current ventures in assholism.

  6. says


    I feel pretty much the same about the Smiley Face but Watchmen wouldn’t have been the saem w/o it.

    Yes, I can make an exception in that case, it was artfully done.

  7. vucodlak says

    When I was a wee lad I got variations of “wipe that smirk off your face” from my parents all the time when I smiled. The “or else” was implied. Usually. So I did everything I could to suppress my smile. I still do it at 32 because I can’t remember how not to, anymore.

    As a result, my smile is… ghastly, I guess would be the right word. My teeth are straight and very sharp. I’ve actually been asked if I file them; I don’t. They’ve always been sharp. When I can’t stop my smile, my lips draw back from them in a manner that probably looks painful (it is), and my whole face twists up in a parody of mirth.

    Adults are visibly unnerved. Children turn and flee, believing I’m the monster come to gobble them up. Animals back away, snarling and hissing and growling. Priests throw holy water on me while chanting prayers of supplication, and a shadow swallows the sun. Wolves howl and owls scream, though it be the middle of the day. Trees drop their leaves and crops wither in the fields. The dead are vomited forth from their graves as the very Earth seems to moan in horror. Legions of seraphim with flaming swords descend from on high, intent on war, while the whole of the cosmos shudder with the terrible mocking laughter of something older and more terrible than mortal minds can… um…

    Well, you get the idea. It’s not very pretty, and it makes me look like the sort who laughs at funerals (and ONLY at funerals), which simply isn’t true. I laugh at poop jokes, too.

  8. chigau (違う) says

    vucodlak #11
    I don’t believe we have yet met.
    But when we do….

  9. rq says

    Now you’ve made me curious.


    I spent a lot of time scowling yesterday, so oops? I scowl at as many classmates as I can -- esp. including at the one guy in class who runs his one-man smile-control squad. Admittedly, he’s improved what with all the negative feedback he’s received from the majority of the class (31 women to 6 men), but I do wish I had sharp teeth to reveal at him from time to time.

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