To smile or not to smile, that was the ridiculous question posed to Simone Biles on Monday night’s episode of Dancing with the Stars.
The 20-year-old gymnast has been doing an amazing job on the celebrity dance competition, along with her partner Sasha Farber. But despite her efforts, the judges seem to have a disconnect with her emotions.
In her first dance of the night, Biles and Farber did a well-executed fox trot to a lively song. For the dance, Biles was smiling, which felt appropriate for the high-energy song.
But criticism from the judges suggested they wanted her to convey a different emotion.
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“Your skills are unquestionable,” Carrie Ann Inaba told Biles as reported by TODAY. “You hit every line with precision and perfection. But once again, I’m going to come back to performance and authenticity about who you are when you perform… You have this beautiful smile and you are a megastar with your energy, but once in a while, there’s beauty without a smile. There’s beauty in pain and all of the other emotions, and I’d like to see more of that.”
Doubling down Judge Julianne Hough agreed, adding, “I don’t know if the smile is authentic because you want to smile, or if it’s just because you rehearsed it that way… I really just want to see some rawness come out.”
To which Biles responded, “I’ve lived in a gym 14 years of my life, so it’s hard to show something I’ve never felt before.”
For her second dance to a more solemn song, Biles’ delivery was once again impeccable but this time she didn’t smile. When asked by the judges about not smiling she said.
“Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals.”
While some are saying it was a harsh comeback, we see it as her way of sticking up for herself. Put aside all the sexist implications of telling women to smile and trying to assign emotion to performances, she’s a professional at this.
Appeasing non-Olympic winners every week is one thing, but taking instruction on how to feel, not necessary.
As of Monday, Biles and Normani Kordei are to only celebrity women left on the intense competition.