Bershon, best I can tell was a term made up by blogger Sarah Brown, who has used it since she was a teenager to describe a certain look and attitude common among teen/preteen girls. She defines it like this:

"Bershon is pretty much how you feel when you’re 13 and your parents make you wear a Christmas sweatshirt and then pose for a family picture, and you could not possibly summon one more ounce of disgust, but you’re also way too cool to really even DEAL with it, so you just make this face like you smelled something bad and sort of roll your eyes and seethe in a put-out manner."

Jennifer Grey in Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the example most commonly cited.

There's a whole flickr page devoted to it, and a great article by Michael Bierut on Design Observer. I agree with him - Bershon is an attitude and a look that is a girl thing. Guys tend to deal with uncomfortable photo opps with scowls or silly faces or somber-but-about-to-smile faces. There are some exceptions - but it's a lot easier to find in pre-teen girls, that's for sure. I define it as "Are we done yet?" with a little fire in the eyes. or "I'm not cranky - I'm rightfully annoyed." "Totally over it."

I also agree with these defining rules:
1. Babies with cranky faces are not Bershon. Bershon implies a certain self-conscious world-hating attitude that only develops with time and hormones. Little kids may appear to be Bershon, but we are projecting.2. Photos of someone who is kind of uncomfortable but who is about to crack up are not Bershon.
3. People who are just bored are not Bershon.
4. People who are stoic are not Bershon.
5. Old people, in general, are not Bershon, though there may be exceptions.
6. Animals are not Bershon. Animal are animals.

Unfortunately I don't really have any photos of myself from 86-92. I'm sure there are plenty of good examples of bershon. Although, I think I was stoic rather than snarly. Remember this one? Just thrilled to be alive and wearing Dad's clothes instead of a real Halloween costume...


  1. You "acted" Bershon in that "Does your child need to be committed?" ad you did where you were in the forefront and the "mother" was in the back. Remember that?

  2. omigosh. yeah. man, I wish I had a copy of that to post. Totally Bershon with my arms crossed.
    Do you have any?

  3. This is the best thing I've ever heard. If only I could find a way of working iit into cobersation without sounding like a kid toucher.

    Also, you have to post Bershon pics of yourself? (Did I just sound like a pedophile?)

  4. Can we introduce the term "phedopholite" into the mainstream? Like "Oh, I mean he likes looking at 15 year old's myspace pages, but not underage pornography... he's not a pevert, he's just sorta 'phedopholite.'"