Chelsea Handler’s powerful message to men who tell women to smile

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Kayleigh Dray

Smiling is one of the warmest, most open gestures a person can give to another – and a sign of genuine happiness.

Which is why it’s so unsettling when strange men demand that women smile on cue.

It’s a form of harassment – and one which often leaves us feeling vulnerable, unhappy, and like a piece of meat.

Now Chelsea Handler has spoken out about the issue – and she certainly hasn’t minced her words.

The comedian was left fuming after she spotted that journalist Reince Priebus had lashed out at presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Twitter.

“She was angry and defensive the entire time,” he wrote, regarding one of Clinton’s recent public appearances.

“No smile and uncomfortable… upset that she was caught wrongly sending our secrets.”

Directly addressing Priebus in her Netflix show, Chelsea Does Online, she said: “Who the fuck are you tell someone to smile?”

The 41-year-old continued: “This is just another example of how men feel like they can belittle every woman in the world and order up a smile. It’s not just Hillary; they tell actresses to smile, they tell female athletes to smile… even paintings aren’t safe.”

Referring to the Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic portrait of the Mona Lisa, and the debate surrounding her “smile”, Handler joked: “Mona’s obviously been on her period for the last 500 years, so leave a bitch alone.”

She went on to add: “It happens to women on the daily commute, it used to happen to me – until men realised I suffer from a condition known as Resting Chelsea Face.

“They say it takes more muscles to frown, and I say, well good, then my face is getting one hell of a work out.”

Handler finished with a powerful message to all men, outlining the inherent sexism which is encapsulated in the phrase ‘give us a smile’.

“So here’s my message to all men,” she said. “Stop telling women to smile.

“We don’t like that - it’s not an icebreaker, it’s a dealbreaker. And what is your gameplan anyway? Do you think we’re gonna go smile and then magically float onto your penis? It doesn’t work that way.

“Do you know how sexist that is to say that to us? No one ever tells a man to smile. Try it. Go tell Samuel l Jackson to turn that frown upside down.”

She finished by saying that women would smile when Clinton wins the presidency over Trump, and pointed out that Priebus’ smile looks like “somebody that accidentally sat down on a buttplug and liked it.”

Watch her message in full below:


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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