girl blank face

If you've never seen an episode of Lie to Me or taken a Cosmo Body Language Quiz, then you probably wouldn't have given the couple at the bar a second glance.

But I have seen every episode of Lie to Me because Tim Roth and I have taken at least 40 Body Language Quizzes like this one from PopSugar, so I could see shit was going down.

They sat on two bar stools at a slick little modern Italian bistro. Both in their late 20's or early 30's, both drinking red wine.

He was probably 5'10", fit and boxy, dressed neatly like a prep school wrestler. He wore a pink polo and dark brown khakis, and the ribbed cuff of his short sleeves cut into the slabs of his arms. He sat sideways in his bar stool, leaning forward, his whole body pointed at her. His legs spread open (EASY THERE CHIEF), his right foot rested on the crossbar of her stool (I GET IT), and his right hand gripped her seatback (ARE YOU GOING TO PEE ON HER NOW?) He kept gesturing broadly with his left hand, craning his neck around to try to meet her eyes, and occasionally his right index finger would pop up to stroke her back (NOT THE ONLY THING POPPING UP.)

She was probably 5'8", average build, with a thick riot of blonde curls. She was dressed like she'd come from work at a law office. Her cobalt blue cardigan covered slender arms; the conservative black pencil skirt hem rested at her kneecaps while she was sitting, which meant it fell to the top of her calves when she stood. She sat stiffly with her legs crossed away from him (HELLO) and leaning back (RED FLAG) with her shoulders angled toward the bar (COME ON) and her left arm casually wrapped around her stomach (SHE MIGHT AS WELL BE MACING YOU DUDE.)

Every time he made a joke (I could tell because he'd laugh, and lay his left hand on her drink hand) she leveled him with an expression so flat, cool, and impassive that it honestly would have hurt him less to get hit in the face with a frisbee made of gravel and ice.

It's called Girl Blank Face. I know it well, and you probably do, too.

It's this:

my best girl blank face
see also:
aileen wournos


This is an expression that some might categorize as "bored," or "vacant," or "drunk." And they're right! This is a totally normal facial expression for a person to have in the following scenarios:

waiting in line at the dmv


stuck in traffic
radio's broken
cell phone dead
watching lights turn green, yellow, red
thinking about life choices

six chardonnays deep
watching 27 dresses

Make no mistake. The difference between Blank Face and Girl Blank Face has nothing to do with the expression itself, and everything to do with the context in which the Face is served. In the context of a boring fucking afternoon at the post office, ain't no thang. In the context of, well...

smile
honey
you're so pretty
smile

we thought rick was
a better fit
for this position
and this way
you can still have
life balance
how's the baby
by the way

(a man is staring at you from across the bus
he gets up from his seat
walks over
and sits next to you)

Girl Blank Face is an evolutionary tool, a mask we pull down when we feel under siege, a way of hiding and defusing and keeping everything even and fine, just fine.

I think it's a learned survival mechanism, something girls learn when the first girl in the middle school starts wearing a bra, and the boy who stands behind her in chorus snaps it during the Christmas concert and even the chorus teacher laughs a little.

When I was a girl I hit a boy for calling me Whoppers and I got sent to the office, Girl Blank Face firmly set as I was offered my choice of baggy KMart sweaters from the Dress Code Violation Bin.

Sure, in a perfect world he would have apologized to me and I wouldn't have had to spend the rest of the day among my giggling classmates with my girl body sheathed in a XXL bright green and yellow striped polyester sweater that fell to my knees. But the world isn't going to be perfect, and at least I didn't cry in the lunchroom.

Girl Blank Face is a mask. It protects us from being labeled "weak" or "emotional" or "bitchy" or "shrill."

Girl Blank Face is a shield. It protects us from looking afraid, or angry, or humiliated, or intense.

Girl Blank Face is, like all masks and shields, both a comfort and a god damn shame.

This is the face you see on a woman who is being hit on while locked in a steel box with a stranger who looks at her body and makes her legs tingle: Run. She's watching the numbers light up, one by one, as the elevator climbs to her floor. Run.

This is the face you see on a woman who has just been complimented, out loud, in the break room, on the fit of her jeans. Just pretend you didn't hear it.

This is the face I made when a distant relation told me to watch Super Nanny so I could be a better parent. That really hurts my feelings and also fuck you.

This face means:

okay
get it out of your system
so i can go



don't cry
don't cry
don't cry
breathe



you
scare
me


you are
a piece
of shit


don't touch me



get me
out
of here


That last one? That's what the girl at the bar was probably thinking. The guy wasn't holding her at knifepoint or anything, at least not explicitly, at least not knowingly, but when a man that size is that close, he doesn't need another weapon to become a threat.

The guy went to the bathroom, trailing his hand across her back as he passed her stool. As soon as he rounded the corner, she pulled a $20 out of where she'd tucked it in her skirt waistband, presumably after she'd gone to the bathroom and found no back door out of this joint. She slapped the bill on the bar, waved to the bartender, pointed to the money, and dashed into the street. She didn't stop to look around but if she had, she would have seen this:



When the guy returned, found her gone, and scanned the room with a furrowed brow for a flash of cobalt blue, he saw this:


him:
do i know her?
she looks so familiar
i feel like i've seen her...
oh
oh
you know what it is?
that blank stare
is 100% trish

you know
trish
from work
she wore those white jeans
that time
yeah
her
man one time i almost got her number
when we rode the elevator together
but she got off before i could
yeah i guess she was late or something

you know
she applied for a promotion
but we gave it to rick
she's got a baby now so
it's better for everybody
but yeah
that face
classic trish

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