Stop Telling Women To Smile

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

Reality TV star receives huge backlash for saying, ‘Stop telling women to smile’

You should smile! You’d be so much prettier if you smiled! Smile, sweetheart! If you’re a woman who’s ever dared to walk down a city street without a beaming smile emanating from your face, you’ve probably heard these words. Why? Why do so many men demand that we smile? It’s a question one woman asked after a particularly frustrating exchange, and she’s receiving quite a backlash for it.

Whitney Way Thore is a TV personality known for her role on TLC’s reality show, My Big Fat Fabulous Life. She stopped at a gas station on her way home over the weekend, where a cashier attempted to hold her purchase hostage until she smiled for him.

“Thirty minutes ago, I stopped in a gas station for some Tylenol and gum. As soon as I walked in, the clerk said, “Hey sweetheart.” When I went to the counter to pay, he said, “You gotta give me a smile if you want this,” and hid my gum away in his hand. “No thanks,” I told him. “I’ll just have the gum.” He didn’t ring up my gum and instead grumbled under his breath and lectured me about having a bad attitude.”

She’s garnered quite a following from the show, over 350,000 Facebook fans. Over the weekend she posted the above interaction to her page, to express how frustrating situations like this can be for women — when we’re basically expected to perform for strangers.

The backlash to the post is unbelievable. It’s amazing how many people think that situations like this are “no big deal” and women should just “get over themselves.”

“Interactions like this are beyond frustrating and belittling,” she continues in her post. “I was not rude to this man, and I do not owe him a smile or outward display of happiness — I was exhausted and had a headache, but that doesn’t even matter because I do not need to justify not smiling on demand for a stranger.”

Why should she be expected to do anything but hand over the money required to pay for that pack of gum? Yes, it’s a big deal that she’d be expected to, because it’s frustrating as hell. Women have been told, since forever, that they need to be more accommodating, sweet, and smiley — why? For what reason? This interaction would never have happened if she was a tired, grumpy-looking man just wanting to buy a pack of gum. It’s called a “power play” and women are on the receiving end of them constantly.

The pile-on she’s receiving for simply telling her story is unreal — so is the fact that so many women are berating her for having a problem with it. There are over 11,000 comments on the post and the amount of women telling her to get over herself is depressing:

I love you Whitney but I will have to say that was rude. Some people just like cheering people up. Have you never looked at someone and said “smile, everything will be alright”?

I’m sorry, but why couldn’t you just humor him and smile? He would have gotten to see it, and you could have gone about your business. Just curious. I would’ve just smiled and gone on with my life.

OMG! I’m sure it was innocent! Why make such a big deal over something so small! This is ridiculous! I like you a lot but this is super over the top…..even for you. I mean had he said nothing….would you have perceived him as rude???

Maybe he just saw you looked stressed and not feeling well and wanted to brighten your day? Damn.

I’m actually a little disappointed in you…. With all the misery, anger, racism, body shaming, cruelty, abuse, bullying…. here is a guy who was trying to make a light situation and bring out a smile in somebody.

I love your show. & thought you were the sweetest lady ever, but after reading this.. I kinda second guess myself! That was so rude of you.

Okay, let’s recap. She’s had a long day. She stops at a mini-market to get some gum. She tries to buy that gum and the clerk refuses to give it to her until she smiles. Then he lectures her for having a bad attitude. How is she being rude by refusing to bend to this guy’s will? How is that rude?

She ends the post with, “Would he have held a male customer’s items hostage until he smiled for him? I’m willing to bet everything I own that the answer is no.”

It’s a sound bet.

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