Typing “Don’t tell women to smile” into Google will give you more than 85 million hits—and somehow men still don’t get it. Most of us have perfected the head-down-earphones-in response to being told what to do by complete strangers; but it’s much harder to react when you’re being told to smile on national television.
Of course, Simone Biles is not most of us. She is a four-time Olympic gold medalist who has made it to the final four on hit reality TV show Dancing with the Stars—and she’ll be the first to tell you that she didn’t get here by smiling.
Though Simone is well loved by DWTS fans, the judges’ reviews of her performances have . On Monday night, she was told that her smiling was keeping her from conveying real emotion. Then, after her second dance of the night, she was given from judge Carrie Ann Inaba about being “too perfect.” Um, what?
While listening to Inaba’s feedback, Simone looks focused, and is still clearly trying to catch her breath. Host Tom Bergeron was somehow confused by this.
“I gotta quickly ask,” , interrupting the judging. “I was waiting for you to smile at some of the compliments. You didn’t.”
Simone gives him a huge smile, shrugs twice, and then responds with the best clapback of all time:
SMILING. DOESN’T. WIN. YOU. GOLD. MEDALS. Twitter reacted right away with users quoting the instantly iconic line.
“Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals” SIMONE JUST SAID THAT OMG
— paige⁵ᴴ³ (@jaureguiregreti)
My response to amazing clapback ” Smiling doesn’t win you Gold medals” at it finest
— Melanie321 (@Mellie4Justice)
. schooled judges on the art of competition.
“Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals”
That’s why she’s an Olympic champion.
— Nicki (@nickiknowsnada)
We are in awe of Simone’s poise and quick-wittedness as demonstrated in her clever, poignant response to an irrelevant and question that had nothing to do with her actual dancing. But we’re also both angry and exhausted over having to have the same conversations again and again when it comes to policing the way young women present themselves.
Tom Bergeron realized that his question was careless at best and reinforcing negative gender stereotypes at worst. He posted an article criticizing his comment on Twitter last night, writing, “The question I should have asked (and have of many contestants) was “What’s your reaction to the judges comments?” He then went on to commend Simone for her response in a second tweet today.
The question I should have asked (and have of many contestants) was “What’s your reaction to the judges comments?”
— Tom Bergeron (@Tom_Bergeron)
Loved crisp response to my clumsy question. Curious how she felt about judges comments, I unwittingly added to the smile pile.
— Tom Bergeron (@Tom_Bergeron)
Tom realizing that he added to the “smile pile” that is too often heaped on women is a step in the right direction, for sure. But these realizations are looong overdue. Still, until everyone gets it through their head that women can smile, or not smile, as they please, at least we have a kick-ass comeback to yell back at critics.
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