top of page

Making of the Stepford smile

If you don't have It,

you want It.

It screams at you from every little opening,

be it another's mid-sentence, gaping mouth

or your silence.

It is written on your forehead,

your stretched smiles,

rapid breath and

in the humungous space

within your vacant eyes.

If another senses you don't have It,

they want to know more.

Curiosity peaked.

Stepford smiles on.

They seek you.



that which

screams from the hollows

within them.

If you are beneath them

they will give you some

without asking

if you want to receive It.

Kindred spirit they call it.

It's named.

If you're at par

they will never ask

and you will never receive,

for this balance

would mean disbalance in

your favor.

Circumstances they say,

come to everyone

and never stay.

The paradox is bleeding

from its throat.

If you're above

they will berate you,

begrudging your past gain.

With knowing nods

and wise smiles,

they will give you only advice,

thinly veiled;

and behind the veil

a judgement of your gainful sins.

But you're still listening,

because you still want It.

You're grasping at straws,

standing in a stable

that has since

been broken into a mansion.


when the screaming gets too much,

it will all go silent.

And you will finally have

the perfect Stepford smile.

A forced smile, Stepford Smile

The one unsolicited piece of advice we've consistently received in times of turmoil from friends, relatives, spiritual mentors, neuroscientists, gurus, therapists, doctors, astrologers, nutritionists, gym trainers, house help, and pretty much every other person is: just keep smiling through it.

On the face of it, we must admit that there's a certain science to the advice. Yet what you'll often end up seeing is a sea of seemingly perfect smiles that vanish the second the doors close. Social media, of course, perpetuates this in an endless loop.

But why the simplistic advice of just keeping smiling? Is this the secret abracadabra that would open up the doors to a Stoic heaven (which would, conversely, just be reality)?

Or is there something more sinister lurking behind it? - Just how every clown hides behind not just the roaring emptiness of a clown's smile but also about a million kids' first nightmares.

Well, I should be giving you the answer that every MBA school takes a hefty sum to teach aspiring consultants: "It Depends". But I know you. You didn't come here for a seemingly esoteric yet miraculously actionable answer that you could get from any top business publications and/or podcasts and YouTube channels. You probably didn't even come here for an answer. Or a question. All I can safely say is that you came here because you're curious -- about me, the blog, the conversations we often have, our possibilities, our thoughts, or maybe have just a boredom-killing curiosity. (I'd love to know your perspective; do drop me a message).

This is a prose about the making of a Stepford smile. It speaks about the chaos within you that drives you to seek, the "giving" that lies on the other side of this seeking, and the completion of this circle with the seeker becoming the giver. What's the "It" that is conspicuous throughout the prose - I'll leave that to you, for only you would know your "It". This "It" changes throughout life stages as well, each time renewing this rite of passage.

(This is not a gospel, but rather a highly probabilistic reality based on select factual events. )

Here's to a Sunday hoping you recognize your Stepford smiles.

Happy Sunday!

Note: A Stepford smile is a popular reference originating from a 1972 model - The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin. It refers to the fake smile one projects when they want to portray an image of complete and perfect happiness in order to be socially accepted. In this novel, the housewives in Stepford were all stereotypical barbies -- beautiful, with wide smiles and were perfect housewives to their husbands. Spoiler alert: It turns out these wives were robot duplicates that replaced the original wives that were murdered by their husbands for not adhering to this stereotype.

Time and again, through art and through science (see: Jung) - that's what collective human evolution points to: killing parts of yourself to make space for those parts that aid your survival at the behest of the ones in power. This could be both tragic and transformational; it depends. However, in the context of this prose, collective humans or society are just an acellular organism, akin to a virus, and we're sooner or later going to be infected.

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page