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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:
When your knees are crying after you’ve squatted for the gram 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/vrkXszRkI2— SheaButtaBaby (@Solo_Kalin) March 20, 2018
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.
Lmaooo I posted the picture with the actual reason behind the picture and my sisters ran with it. Lmao.— SheaButtaBaby (@Solo_Kalin) March 30, 2018
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:
Me: That test was easy I definitely made an A— Preston Abadie (@quickred2) March 26, 2018
Test Grade: 42
When I see a white person in a red hat pic.twitter.com/EIWTXSzBTn— “Win a ring this decade” (@Rodd18) March 27, 2018
Coach: Y’all got another down & back cause somebody didn’t touch the line.— D.Henson (@Dhenson_0) March 26, 2018
Optician: Is it better with 1.......or 2?— I wish I was a lil bit T'Challa (@LanzzStutss) March 27, 2018
Me: Uuuuuuuh pic.twitter.com/0fQ4ZQk6Dw
When a period cramp hits you out of no where pic.twitter.com/aElwr6cogL— CERAADI (@Ceraadi) March 29, 2018
This really how Cam be looking when he throw it 15 yards over Greg Olsen head pic.twitter.com/P2VjcdvR9e— . (@DaBirds_ATL_) March 26, 2018
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:
Me looking at the menu knowing damn well imma get the same thing i always get.. pic.twitter.com/nYGSYq4aPk— John Ross III (@WatchJRoss) March 23, 2018
This tweet about parking in a big city was also very popular:
Parking in DC and NY will have you getting out the car like pic.twitter.com/fcEzeHx38V— Reggie (@UrFavorite_Ex) March 26, 2018
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:
When you & your friend both out of shape but race up the stairs pic.twitter.com/11pTaIDEWG— Racks (@RacksBundles) March 27, 2018
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.
THE HAAAAATTTT 😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/o9GDbMIP5s— SheaButtaBaby (@Solo_Kalin) April 1, 2018
Lmao. I still cannot get over scrolling past myself. https://t.co/NlvzofpKnb— SheaButtaBaby (@Solo_Kalin) March 31, 2018
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:
Y'all... these niggas on tinder think I'm a catfish because of this meme. I'm. So. Dead. pic.twitter.com/4uCroa2i3m— SheaButtaBaby (@Solo_Kalin) April 1, 2018
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:
Me looking for the part in the long ass paragraph that ima reply to pic.twitter.com/zNiG3FiA1F— M’Bakdatassup (@bbigga25) March 20, 2018
“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.
When a short man gets angry so you gotta get down to their level to see what the issue is. pic.twitter.com/GkAl2VpIdz— FAT FACE (@UneekDiva) March 21, 2018
“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 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.