Julia Louis-Dreyfus Does Not Need To Smile For You

Stop telling women to smile

At last night's Emmy Awards, actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her 6th Emmy for Leading Actress in a Comedy (and eighth overall), further enjoying success as her show Veep took home the award for best comedy series. Louis-Dreyfus' win was bittersweet, however; the actress revealed in her acceptance speech that her father died last Friday. Louis-Dreyfus dedicated the award to him and said, "I'm so glad he liked Veep, because his opinion was the one that really mattered."

It would seem, then, that if there were any Emmy think pieces written about Louis-Dreyfus, they'd revolve either around her poignant speech or else the fact that she has quite the monopoly on this particular award category, but, unfortunately, that was not the case.

Rather, on Jezebel last night, Stassa Edwards wrote a blog post wondering what was "wrong" with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The genesis of the post (which was written prior to Louis-Dreyfus' win and the subsequent revelation of her father's death; Edwards updated the post to reflect the new information) was that Louis-Dreyfus was not smiling widely enough when Kate McKinnon won an award for her work on Saturday Night Live. Edwards, indicating the GIF shown above, writes:

Dreyfus looked less than impressed by the win. The slight eye-roll coupled with the stiff clap was not what you typically see.

Speculation about Dreyfus’ reaction includes her difficult history withSaturday Night Live, a topic she’s recently discussed during with The New Yorker Radio Hour. It could also simply be that she was disappointed that Veep co-star Anna Chlumsky lost to McKinnon, or was joking.

Commenters on Jezebel quickly pointed out that Louis-Dreyfus' father just died, and while that may be why the actress wasn't grinning and jumping for joy. But it's also worth noting that none of the men or other women sitting around Louis-Dreyfus are smiling any wider or look any more enthusiastic. Maybe, just maybe, Louis-Dreyfus doesn't need to act a certain, socially proscribed in order to make other people more comfortable with what women do or don't do with their own bodies.

In a world where women sometimes can't even walk down the street without being told to smile, where women's bodies and actions and emotions are widely policed, perhaps it would be best to give someone who emotes for a living figure out how she best wants to engage with her feelings in a particular moment. Because, seriously, the only person who knows why Julia Louis-Dreyfus wasn't smiling right then is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. And she doesn't owe any of us an explanation.