The thing is, I am rarely sad or upset. That is just my normal facial expression. I wonder if people would say the same thing if I were male - is it that being female, I am supposed to be pleasant? Although I think gender is a factor, I'm sure it happens to men as well, although probably not as often as comments from strangers.
And I am not talking about people who seem to be genuinely concerned and ask if I am ok - that doesn't bother me at all. I am talking about the guy that comes up to me in public and tells me to smile or the co-worker who tells me that I need to smile more often or the stranger who comes up to me on the street and asks why I am sad. The thing is, if I actually am sad for whatever reason, telling me to smile is not going to make me happy. It just makes me self-conscious about whether I look upset and annoyed that people feel they can comment on my appearance.
I have been reflecting on this today, and I'm really not sure why. It has been a few weeks since someone has told me to smile (possibly because I have barely left the house). But I made a connection today that I think should have been clear a long time ago. Maybe it is linked to having aspergers (I have a tentative diagnosis at this point). I have read that it is quite common for people with AS to look upset when they are contemplative, and I do tend to get lost in my own thoughts a lot. Smiling, even when I am happy, sometimes feels forced or strange. Sometimes I feel kind of like a robot (which is probably why I feel like I can relate to characters like Data or Seven of Nine from Star Trek or Sheldon from Big Bang Theory). When I am in a new environment and not in control of some of my self-calming behaviors (like rocking), even my partner can have trouble telling if I am coping, and that is understandable because I guess I can be hard to read... but she has never told me to smile or to cheer up.
If you are genuinely concerned about whether or not I am ok, or if I am crying or doing something that really suggests that I am actually distressed in some way, by all means, ask me if I am alright (like the person who, very respectfully, asked if he could get me some water or something when I was clearly freaking out about the noise and the number of people in the room at the biphobia survey launch party last weekend- thank you!). But if you do not know me or I am just staring off into space or something, it is probably best to leave me be... and DO NOT tell me to smile.