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“Ay ma, why you look so mad for?”
“Baby, you too pretty not to be smiling!”
“Smile, girl! It can’t be that bad!”

If we are rating annoying, inept macking on a scale of “Yo, shawty!” to “Damn, you got some sexy ass lips,” then the “smile” lines would fall somewhere in the middle. But while they may not be as offensive as drive-by sexual innuendo, I still find them to be patriarchal power grabs, and I’m no fan at all.

The expression a woman carries as she walks down the street very well may be an indicator of her mood. A scowl could mean “frustration.”  A forlorn look may speak to sadness. Looking pissed off probably means she’s, well, pissed off.

Even if no harm is intended, I find something inherently wrong with a brother essentially ordering a woman to make herself look more pleasing to his eye. Especially when she has not expressed any interest in catching it.

I know a lot of sisters can feel me on this. I am harassed daily by men and susceptible to loads of unwanted attention. If I’m screw- faced, it may have something to do with the fact that someone has come at me with something out of pocket, or has made me feel uncomfortable. Call me crazy, but I don’t like knowing when I am the object of a stranger’s sexual desires. I’m just funny that way.

Thus, the mean mug is often times a deliberate deterrent; it says, “I aint trying to talk to nobody, I’m trying to do what I gotta do and keep it moving.” Or, perhaps, “I’m stressed.” Or, “Please, just leave me alone.” Maybe, “I don’t care if you like my thighs, I’m just trying to get to work.”

Sometimes, I am just happy and buoyant and all smiles walking down the ave. A text message from a certain person can take me to cloud nine, even in public. But that doesn’t mean I’m open to strangers getting in my space, and I sometimes have to reign in the joy as a matter of protection.

How many lasting relationships have come from, “smile more?”  I’ve never seen this approach work, though I have watched it fail many times. I’ve never heard a woman say, “I like it when a man shows disregard for how I may be feeling at any given moment and tells me to smile!” Not even once, and I reckon that everything happens at least once, but I wasn’t there that day. Beyond that, I’ve never had a man I would otherwise be interested in address me in this way.

So for any fellas who may be reading this, I speak for what I think is a significant number of women who think “smile” as an intro is weak like clock radio speakers. Your initial approach shouldn’t smack of disregard for your intended’s feelings. We kinda dig it when the fellas come at us with not only respect, but with something that may actually entice us to speak with you further. In fact, it might even make us smile . . .

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