It's true there are too many Duggar children to count (yes, the specific count is nineteen but it's hard not to get confused just looking at that sea of nearly identical, not quite blonde or brown haired faces) but it's easier to keep the older girls apart. Especially now that we can rank and compare their spouses, it’s easier to keep tabs on everybody. And the separate houses don’t hurt.
Specifically, Jessa and Jill come to mind. Jana already shines quite a bit considering she’s home-bound, but the eldest daughter and the most strong-willed fall into easy comparisons. And just like any sibling rivalry, there isn’t a clear winner so much as there are a sea of battles won and lost by opposing sides. Admittedly, that's not the nicest way to put it considering the Duggars refuse to throw shade. But there’s naturally sibling competition and when you have a family larger than some Kindergarten classroom sizes… it just happens. Anyway, we’ve divvied up Jill and Jessa's victories. Maybe we’ll never know who the true victor is but there are plenty of times (and babies that’ll be born in the future) ahead of us all. So we’re just keeping score while we pass the time.
First, Jessa's moments...
Before we talk about Jessa’s wedding dress, please keep in mind that audiences internationally are used to the Duggars adhering to the strictest of conventions, such as conventions that don’t even exist in the rest of the world until they made them up.
Sure, Jessa’s wedding dress isn’t transparent or made of, like, fish scales but the fact that she went for a pale blush color instead of white… it’s a hint of individuality from her and that’s a lot to ask for when we’re talking about this family of twenty-two. We’re just glad that her wedding was what she wanted, at least in some way.
Again, moments, when the adult Duggar children dissent, or even just make their own choices (and that’s an extremely important distinction in their case) are plentiful.
It's mainly because the war of the Duggars for individuality is largely a silent war.
It’s important that Jessa didn’t share her first kiss with her husband with an international audience because there’s barely anything in her life that’s private. And her courtship? Well, that word still feels insane to say considering we’re no longer in the eighteen hundreds but there’s literally nothing private about a Duggar courtship --that’s the entire point. Good for you, girl.
Jessa clearly has a short patience for some of Ben’s mushy-gushy stuff but we love it. Sure, we don’t have to live with it but we still love it. Any admission of sensitivity or emotions associated with femininity is precious with a Duggar spouse.
When their proposal became an elaborate scavenger hunt that concluded in a church- that’s pretty cute. Not all of us want our proposal in a church, but the Duggars clearly do and also it was a pretty church. We wouldn’t be mentioning this it was an ugly church. But this church feels like a woodland haven so here we are.
The moment after Jessa’s engagement wasn’t necessarily planned as a quiet act of defiance from her parents (and it’s not even fair to assume she wants to rebel.)
It was more of an act of genuine emotion that had nothing to do with familial pressure or the responsibilities of being televised.
After Jessa accepted Ben’s engagement, they had a full-on hug. Of course, I’d never refer to a hug as “full on” but the Duggars demanded we specify that side-hugs are okay so, we have to do it. Anyway, they weren’t married but they hugged. Wouldn’t be a story anywhere else.
Some of us prepare for our long-term relationships by living together to make sure we can compromise and cohabitate. But the Duggars don’t have the luxury of that option so instead, what do they go for?
They just have to survive the most incredibly awkward first dates that involve watching their parents make off-color jokes.
And sure, a parent’s awkward joke doesn’t have to be that awkward but when the parent has established that their way of life demands a total lack of those jokes… it’s super weird. And then you throw in a new crush and mini golf? Just nope.
Jordyn, also known as unlucky number eighteen, has a long-documented history of not liking mom Michelle, which makes a ton of sense since Michelle barely seems to remember her daughter’s age or any traits. One blog post by Michelle reveals a truth that’s a lot more rough than is conveyed.
”The other day the Seewald family was visiting, and Ben and Jessa were getting ready to leave with them… As Jessa and Ben were getting in the Seewald car my little Jordyn, who is five, realized what was happening and she just started to cry and cry," she said.
One huge question that comes to mind about the Duggars is how much of the world have they have been exposed to, whether by choice or a lack of interest or even not knowing that’s an option. Sure, they’ve been to Nepal but would they be okay on a regular trip to a bookstore?
In either case, kudos to Jessa for choosing a honeymoon that took her well out of her comfort zone.
Maybe the newlyweds were hounded by chaperones and TLC producers the whole time but at the very least, it doesn’t seem like it. Maybe Jessa discovered a newfound love of some exotic cuisine, like baguettes. We’re still happy for her.
Jessa’s childhood mistreatment of big sister Jana was concerning, but a definitely real moment with the Duggars is always precious. Jana recalled a story about offering Jessa a gift to stop bullying,
"How I can I work this out, I don't want to go through my entire life having this bad relationship, it's not like you can avoid your sibling… It wasn't Jessa's birthday, it wasn't…anything, it was a random day, and I was just saying, you know…'There are people that may hurt us, there are people that may have done things to us, and that…it is our responsibility to forgive."
Jessa finds issue with Ben and it’s not like we want to marry him, but at the very least he retweeted, “God created Eve as a co-heir of his Kingdom promises, an ally in dominion and discipleship… Yet I keep seeing 'helpmeet' translated as 'cleaner of messes, cooker of food, doer of chores.”
It’s more than likely that none of the Duggar clan identifies as feminists, or maybe they secretly believe in equality.
But we see you Ben Seewald, we see you. You cook for your wife and encourage her to get a profession outside of motherhood.
Jessa is easily portrayed as a sort of Juno: a beautiful and not-so-nice goddess. That’s really falling into the microcosm of Duggar life (she’s not that gorgeous or mean, she just only interacts with her weird family) but there’s definitely evidence of it in how she treats siblings.
All that considered, honesty is refreshing on reality television. The name is infamously incorrect as to what transpires on the television. So while that may concern criticizing a sister’s courtship, "Jinger and Jeremy are much more 'huggy' and affectionate, but to each their own.” We still appreciate any breath of fresh air.
And now for Jill's wins...
Long ago and far away, when Derrick Dillard was still working for TLC, he caused a bit of a scene making fun of the delivery class he and Jill attended. Now, maybe it felt to him like a reasonable way to assuage the stress of becoming a new father and that it was appropriate to goof around.
But wife Jill was far more concerned with the human life that would soon be propelled from her own body and she didn’t waste a moment in letting him know he needed to get serious.
Now was not the time for a mama Michelle-style look of adoration and giggling at whatever joke he came up with. Now was the time to prepare for parenthood.
Is that a Duggar… dressed like a normal human being on a hike? Just kidding, she really should be wearing closed toed shoes. On the one hand, it doesn’t matter but on the other, what was she thinking? Whatever, forget the footwear. Pretend I never mentioned the necessity of socks when you’re out and about in the woods. We’re just happy she wore a tank top, which is fairly nuclear in Duggar life.
Plus shorts? Wow, wow. This is the beginning of a new era and it’s not even the era of Duggar daughters wearing mom Michelle’s old cheerleading uniform (yeah, remember that?). It’s just the era of pants.
Jessa reinvented the wheel when she donned that adorable pink wedding dress but things aren’t so easy for the eldest. Jill was unofficially burdened with showing the world a full-on, very traditional, out-and-out Duggar wedding.
You’re right, why say “Duggar” and traditional? That’s just redundant- sorry about that.
The point is, the family had always talked about saving the first kiss until marriage and Jill, as the first married daughter, accepted her place in that dynasty. It’s not the most glamorous position but she made choices that paved the way for her younger sisters to demonstrate more individuality.
There’s plenty about Derrick Dillard that makes absolutely no sense but one of the largest details barely has anything to do with him. Jill and Derrick’s wedding planner had a task in front of her: having to plan for one thousand guests. She planned a very middle school dance-feeling theme with "600 cupcakes, 3,000 chocolate-chip cookies and 3,000 root-beer floats for the "Sweet and Salty" wedding reception.”
Okay, sure, the future of a wedding is both sweet and salty. But root beer floats at your reception? Even the most loving guest who wants the best for the new couple would be frustrated at the lack of good food.
It’s been a long time since that Sweet ’n Salty wedding reception (just kidding, only a few years but those years count as longer when you immediately have two babies) and the Dillard marriage may not be doing so well. But the only reason the public would even have an idea of that is because of the silent communications of a Mrs. Jill Dillard.
She posted a picture of a book “Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, and called it a “great read so far!”
Commenters were quick to follow up that this book is, “Very good for dealing with [negative] family members or friends!”
At one point, Jill had a very modest nose piercing that she giddily displayed in more than a few selfies. Who knows what changed, but the nose piercing is there no longer. Were the grand-Duggars clued into this breach in their traditions for honoring religion?
Did it become infected because she had no prior experience to fall back on for taking care of it? Did she just get bored of it? This is doubtful considering she’s the first piercing in her gigantic family. If you’re reading this, Jill’s nose piercing, please come home.
Yes, it’s common knowledge that this pattern on her hand was henna, a temporary and traditionally-Indian form of body decoration. Wash your hands a few times and it’s gone but that’s not the point. This was never a permanent tattoo and the likelihood of a Duggar getting their first tattoo on the most visible body part… yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.
But considering her father’s casual xenophobia (saying Hola to Nepalese people? Are you even trying anymore?), this is worth mentioning.
She enjoyed a piece of a foreign culture and didn’t mock it, which is an A-plus in the Duggar book.
Jinger’s been wearing yoga pants for a few years now, but she has her eldest sister to thank for that admission. Well, the oldest sister who was allowed to be an individual person (sorry Jana, someday you’ll buy a pair of jean shorts too). This is an intergenerational divide that all started with Jill- she was the first Duggar daughter to be seen in pants, let alone above-the-knee pants, and it made the news.
Evolution from your parents' ways is totally relative and Jill’s small steps count as huge leaps… maybe not for women in general, but definitely for little Josie.
Jill’s pregnancy announcement made your most awkward middle school Health class seem like a walk in the park.
Sure, later on, Jessa would have awkwardness imposed by her parents but Jill did all the work for herself when she began by confessing to an imaginary crime and then it became her announcing her pregnancy test… without ever saying the phrase “pregnancy test” in front of her parents.
Honestly, raised like that, it’s pretty fair. Derrick stepped in and explained what was even happening but it was one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the whole show. Which is saying a lot.
This next point is more or less a gigantic lose-lose situation. So Jill’s family are pretty close-minded and don’t outright mention their hatred for people unlike themselves. And her husband is someone very vocal about his intolerance for others. After Derrick made it his personal hobby to intimidate a child (oh boy, and what a hobby that is) and then multiple other children, TLC declared they had no desire to work with him. Jill sided with her husband.
Was he right? Let’s not get into that. She took a stance different from her family and that’s… something. It’s definitely something.