Woman’s hilarious Instagram outtake photo turns into a viral reaction meme

One of the best memes of the past week is a photo of a woman—dressed in glasses, heels, and a pink blazer—bent over with her hands on her knees. She’s squinting into the distance as if she’s either out of breath or can’t believe what she’s seeing. People are using the reaction image both ways—expressing exhaustion or a general “what the f*ck?” stance—and they’re racking up six-figure likes. But many want to know: who is this woman? Is she from a show or something? Don’t worry, we’ve got answers.

After being flummoxed by a reverse image search where the top results were all Twitter memes and no answers, and after reading a half-dozen Reddit threads where people asked about the woman’s identity and received no reply, we finally found her:

This criminally under-liked photo by Kalin Elisa, a.k.a. @solo_kalin, is the picture that launched 1,000 viral jokes on Black Twitter. On her timeline, she explains she was posing for a much more serious Instagram photo—this was just a funny behind-the-scenes snap. But people who know her took it and ran with it, and it quickly got so big that everyone was sharing it, but nobody could figure out where it came from.

Here’s how her real photo came out, by the way.

https://twitter.com/Solo_Kalin/status/976206247593684992

But it was the other one, the kneeling, squinting, post-squat one, that got all the attention. These are just some of the captions that scored tens of thousands of Twitter likes using Kalin’s photo:

It’s hard to find the first viral tweet using the photo, now that there are dozens of pages of image results for it, but one of the earliest to blow up was this joke by John Ross of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals:

This tweet about parking in a big city was also very popular:

As the meme progressed, people started to notice it had certain similarities to the other big meme of late March, “Tired SpongeBob.” Tired Kalin and tired SpongeBob started appearing in combination memes:

There are probably more SpongeBob memes, but Kalin is giving him a run for his money, and she’s not a famous TV character. Even when people didn’t have any idea who they were seeing, her photo spoke for itself.

For her part, Kalin seems to be enjoying the meme. She’s been retweeting her favorite ones.

https://twitter.com/Solo_Kalin/status/980242073952669697

The only downside is that it’s made her dating life kind of awkward. No one on Tinder believes she’s the woman in the photo:

Still worth it, though. This is easily one of the best “regular person becomes a meme” success stories in recent history.

Update 4/2 4:31 pm CT: 

Kalin Elisa told the Daily Dot she’s enjoying the meme.

“If you ask any of my friends, I’m as goofy as they come. So to see my picture used to illustrate so many hilarious situations has been the absolute greatest,” she wrote via Twitter DM.

She says it’s hard to pick a favorite, but she listed many examples she thinks are good:

“Some of the original ones are unmatched,” said said. “‘$20 at the door.’ ‘Me looking for the part in the long ass paragraph that ima reply’ are the ones that took off the quickest. But today there’s ones where I have been photo-shopped with spongebob, ones of me in a car, and the Easter ones that are all just so funny.”

If pressed, though, she does have one she likes better than the rest.

“If I absolutely HAD to choose though, ‘When a short man gets angry so you gotta get down to their level to see what the issue is.’ takes the cake,” she said. “I like my men tall for sure. Lil Duval seemed to like that one, too.”

That’s especially funny because Lil Duval is a 5’2″ comedian. If you can’t laugh at yourself …

Jay Hathaway

Jay Hathaway

Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.