Lighten Up, Calm Down, Smile and Other “Advice”

Lighten Up, Calm Down, Smile and Other “Advice”

woman forcing smile with fingers.jpg

Lighten up.

You’re overreacting.

Don’t be so sensitive.

Calm down.


Is there a woman who hasn’t been the recipient of one of these unsolicited comments?

Let me go one step further – this “advice” typically comes from men. I don’t know of any woman who has ever told another woman to smile. I don’t know of any men who have ever told another man to smile.

Men are assertive, women overreact. Men are emphatic, women need to calm down. Men are firm, women are over sensitive.

And then there is the favorite of every woman… smile. Seriously. The only way being told to smile could be more infuriating is if the word “sweetie” is attached to it.

What are we to do about this blatant sexism?

If you’re a man and do this, wake up.

If you’re a man and don’t do this, high five.

If you’re a woman who doesn’t want to lighten up, calm down or freaking smile, then here are some options for you:

·       Ignore it. The downside to ignoring it is it doesn’t change minds or educate anyone. The upside is you preserve your energy for what matters most to you.

·       Speak up. Nothing changes unless we speak our truth that the “advice” is condescending, we are entitled to feel strongly about our beliefs, and for heaven’s sake, we’ll smile when we darn well please. Of course, speaking up may be further proof to the “advisor” that we need to lighten up and stop overreacting, at which point stop engaging and save your energy. State your truth once and move on. You have more important things to do.

So, my sisters, keep being you. Your passion, drive and commitment are exactly what the world needs.

Just thinking about this makes me smile. 😊

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