Stop telling women to smile, but definitely stop telling Simone Biles to smile.

In the annals of badass retorts to men who tell women to smile, Simon Biles pretty much scored a perfect 10.

After a performance on "Dancing With the Stars," Biles faced off with judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who offered the gymnast some praise, along with some constructive criticism. Biles nodded politely through the critique.

It wasn't enough for host Tom Bergeron, who apparently preferred Biles perform a little more happiness, despite being a professional competitor trying to ... win a competition.


"I was waiting for you to smile at some of the compliments," host Tom Bergeron said. "You didn't."

"Smiling doesn't win you gold medals," Biles replied.

An artist was commissioned to create an interpretive rendering of the moment:

Here's the thing: The "Dancing With the Stars" host picked the wrong champion to chastise. Simone Biles smiles all the damn time — when she damn well wants to.

Here she is, choosing to smile, at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards.

Photo by Jewel Samad/Getty Images.

Here she is freely smiling while destroying an entire world's worth of competition at the 2016 Olympics.

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images.

Here she is smiling  — of her own free will — while performing on "Dancing With the Stars" about 40 seconds before Bergeron asked her why she wasn't smiling.

GIF via "Dancing With the Stars"/ABC.

Would you smile while someone was telling you your dancing is a little too robotic? I doubt it.

Furthermore, as Simone herself said, faking "joy" has nothing to do with her ability to kick ass.

Sure, she might pop a grin while mowing down competition in pretty much any arena of her choosing. But the smile is really just an accessory.

Most importantly, it's an accessory for her, and not for anyone else.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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This article originally appeared on 03.10.15


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