Anyone who watches Counting On or follows the Duggars has probably noticed a trend amongst the wives, daughters, and brides-to-be of the family. In fact, it's become such a trope, that many fans have noticed it and even coined their own term for it: the Duggar adoring gaze. Fans on reddit have a more blatant word for it: "the Duggar love stare."
But what is it about the "adoring gaze" that makes it important enough to be given a snappy nickname? Well, according to the fans, it's because it's straight-up weird. "Why do the Duggar girls stare at their husbands like their (sic) staring into their souls and about to devour them in one bite?" a Twitter user wrote. "I have always felt creeped out the way Michelle [Duggar] and Anna [Duggar] stare up adoringly at their talking husbands," a commenter added. "They will hold the stare for minutes if need be. Michelle stared open-mouthed at Jim Bob [Duggar] for so long during the interview that she nearly fell off her chair."
Michelle has mastered the look.
In case you're still new to the Adoring Gaze, here's a video of it in action. In it, Anna stares up lovingly at her husband, Josh Duggar. In case you forgot, in 2015 it was reported that he had molested his sisters. He also cheated on his wife by having an Ashley Madison account. But in the video, Anna looks up to him as if he's the best husband who's ever lived, which is rather odd.
Many fans were pretty upset when they saw the video. "I can't stand the way she stares at him adoringly," a fan wrote. "Well she has the Gothard 1000 mile stare down," another one added. "It is so fake you can see she is trying so hard. my dog does a better job."
And it's not just Michelle and Anna. Other Duggar women have also fallen prey to the Adoring Gaze, much to fans' disappointment. Recent daughter-in-law Kendra Caldwell, who's now married to Joseph Duggar, has also been doing the weird stare. "She has also mastered the adoring gaze all the Duggar women do when their man speaks," a commenter wrote. "She will fit in with the family nicely." Another fan added, "I think Kendra just annoys me on a visceral level because her drippy adoring gaze is already dialed up to eleven and when I look at her all I see is Michelle."
But what is the reason behind the Adoring Gaze? Are the women taught to do this? Surprisingly, that answer is yes. The Duggars all follow a strict religion that encourages women to be good, submissive housewives and to look up to their husbands as authority figures. In fact, according to a former follower from the Duggars' church, Michelle was spotted at an ATI conference passing out pamphlets about how women should be good housewives. In it was a rule that women must obey their husbands and "must look at him lovingly whenever he speaks and not interrupt."
An anonymous user who also attended the same ministry as the Duggars confirmed that this was something they were taught. "At our church [my husband] had been pulled aside and talked to by both the pastor and pastor's son that I was rebellious and to find out why I hated my husband so much," she wrote. "I guess it was because I spoke my mind and of course, wore pants, rode horses, did art, etc. They sure did not turn down the gift of a large painting for the new office. The Duggars were not around then, but it was as if they wanted me to always look at my husband in an adoring way and smile that pasted on smile with bright eyes and never say anything. YUCK!"
However, not all the ladies of the Duggar family stare adoringly at their husbands. Fans have noticed that Jessa and Jill do it the least, while Jinger, Joy-Anna, and Anna do it the most. "Oh, Jinger does her fair share of reverence-staring," a reddit user wrote. "She does this thing where she looks at Jeremy [Vuolo], and then she looks at the camera like, 'Isn't what he's saying just the most brilliant thing?' and then back at Jeremy." Another fan felt disappointment when she realized Joy-Anna was following in her mother's footsteps. "When I see [Joy-Anna] respond to [Austin Forsyth] with the same adoring gaze her sisters and mom use for their men, I just feel … disillusioned," they wrote.
However, on the flip side, not everyone thinks the Duggar Adoring Gaze is "creepy" or submissive. Some think it's just a sign of respect. "Okay, this might be an unpopular opinion, but I don't think the 'creepy stares' are actually creepy, subservient stares," a reddit user wrote. "I'm pretty sure that they've just been taught that it's polite to look at the person who's talking, and so that's what's going on. It looks weird on camera since they should be looking at the camera, but it's probably just habit."