I want to know (1) who also hates this, and (2) if this ever happens to dudes, or is some kind of weird patriarchal subjugation maneuver reserved only for the ladies.
One thing I hate beyond all reason, beyond the fire of 10,000 suns, is when some perfect stranger (always a man, at least in my experience), tells me to smile. "Smile, beautiful." (Umm....fuck you too, buddy) Or "Why don't you try smiling?" (Why don't you try shutting up, you jackass.) I'm just minding my own business, walking along, and here come the unsolicited commands to change my facial expression. For the record, this does not make me want to smile. It makes me want to commit unrelenting, merciless violence.
Jeff pointed out that smiling is often a good idea in general, if you are in a bad mood, because it kind of perks you up, even if you're faking. Eventually, the fake becomes the real; your mood is lightened, and the world is a better place. But I do not believe that the "smile" guys are offering their comments in an air of zen mindfulness. They do not say, "The Buddha would have you smile." Or "happy are the thoughts of those who are unattached." No, indeed. My theory is that they are perpetrating a unique form of jackassery, indeed a kind of thought/speech violence, by invading the personal mental space of passing women with a command that said women conform to the jackass's personal notions of feminine prettiness, jolliness, and the illegality of women's having or expressing negative emotions, etc.
But maybe this happens to men, too? Let me know. I would be much happier thinking that there are just equal-opportunity jerks out there acting imperious towards all other people's facial expressions, and not that women are being singled out.
Or maybe even other women do not experience this. It could just be me, because I have some kind of uniquely dour neutral expression (this is actually kind of a family trait that we Thorsons have designated "Mailbox Mouth." Our neutral, thinking expression looks sort of like a mail slot, and is interpreted by many well-meaning people as uniquely sorrowful, perturbed, etc. This leads people to ask, "Hey, are you okay, you look all angry." Given that a be-mailbox-mouthed Thorson is generally engaged at that point in deep, complex, and rewarding thought, the interruption is unwelcome, and invariably leads to a statement along the lines of "I was fine...until you came along." We are not socially smooth at all times, we Thorsons.)
That said, to all of you who may be guilty of the "Hey, try smiling" routine...CUT IT OUT. We don't want to hear it. Mind your own beeswax. Get a life. If you want a smile, you can make one on your own time. It's free, and doesn't require bugging me!