To understand how the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) assesses the proportionality of restrictive national measures, one has to depart from the canonical reading of internal market law cases. An alternative reading of the cjeu case law, focusing on the “who” rather than on the “how”, is possible. This article argues that the control of proportionality should not be viewed as an abstract reasoning aiming at comparing the respective importance and value of the norms in conflict, but rather as an evaluation based upon the thorough description of the social reality of the persons whose life and interests are either affected or protected by the challenged restrictive measure. [---]