Strangers on the Internet Ripped My Proposal Video Apart, but This Is What I Learned


Freedom comes when you realize you actually don't care

by Teresa Elsey

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I was not particularly concerned with the problem of being a woman in the world until I was planning a wedding. And it wasn’t the thousand petty gender-based insults of the planning process that tipped me over to rabid feminism (you know: the now-you’re-engaged checklists that start with, “Set your wedding weight loss goal,” the vendors who dismissed my fiancé’s questions with, “Whatever the bride wants”).

It was, instead, the direct insults of Internet strangers, who had seen a video of my fiancé’s elaborate proposal in their British online tabloid:

That lady needs a serious make over !! wonder why he is proposing, perhaps he needs to stay in the US?
So ugly … truth!
He’s got pretty low standards by the look of her.
Good god! ugly couple, bad clothes & HUGE teeth!
Lucky girl. I mean it, she’s pretty ugly.

My defenders did not necessarily make me feel better:

This is so women can know that you don’t have to be hot or pretty or sexy…
Loads of nasty people here as usual. This lady might not be pretty but I’m sure she is lovely as a person.
She looks so plain, she must have a wonderful personality.

At least the ostensible defenders were more accurate in their criticisms:

Has she ever heard of deodorant? I’ve never seen a woman with patches that big under her arms!
You could have at least searched what a deodorant is and what prevents a ‘sweat patch’ before being rude here. You meant anti-perspirant?

Let me assure you that I felt—and insisted to friends who pointed out that the best revenge against trolls is to ignore them—that there was a greater principle at stake. An unsmall minority of commenters were straightforwardly asserting, not to me (because we’ll give them the benefit of assuming that they were not intending their comments for my eyes particularly), but to the world at large, that there is such a thing as not being pretty enough to deserve happiness.

doesn’t everyone deserve happiness?

Let me rewind and replay that so you can appreciate how fucked up it is: There are people in this world who honestly believe that there is such a thing as not being pretty enough to deserve happiness.

Now that raised my previously undiscovered feminist hackles. In the months leading up to my wedding, I was more interested in Anne-Marie Slaughter and Sheryl Sandberg than in Vera Wang and Emily Post. I read social and cultural histories of marriage and sent angry rants about choice feminism to my (patient, kind, feminist) fiancé. I wrote (yes, really) sentences like, “Prehistoric assumptions about gender underlie the entire wedding-industrial complex,” in emails to friends looking for cheery wedding updates. I donated to Planned Parenthood for the first time.

And in between, I scoured YouTube for “beginner makeup tutorials.”

Because I was doing it too—believing that some fraction of the happiness I would feel while marrying the man that I love and throwing a darn good party for a huge and supportive crowd of family and friends would be correlated with how pretty I managed to be on that day. By caring that other people cared, I was participating in and propagating that form of female body insecurity that I was simultaneously wishing was not a real thing. I hated Kate from Cardiff and her typo-riddled, small-minded assessment of my appearance, but I also hated my hair.

when you think you’re doing it wrong

I wish I could tell you that I understood this when it mattered; that I was able to plan a wedding and spend more time thinking about what would bring me and my husband and our families and friends joy than whether or not it was a societal obligation to wear lip gloss. I didn’t. I looked at wedding dresses more than I replied to excited phone calls from old friends. I pinned pictures of shoes more than I thought about whether our grandparents were healthy enough to travel. I looked at hairstyles on the Internet while snuggling in bed with my fiancé. And when I sometimes decided not to fully engage in the beauty-based rituals of bridedom (buying a dress that was inexpensive and practical but not necessarily The One; wiping off the ill-advised lip gloss before the ceremony), I felt enormously guilty for doing it wrong.

It has taken a long time to understand that caring about strangers’ random Internet cruelty is just as regrettable as inflicting it. In between, there’s been lots of seizing upon incoherent excuses for hating wedding planning and dissolving into tears at the thought that marriage might be a first step toward bringing daughters into an irreparably unjust world. (My now-husband’s patient absorption of all that is part of what continues to convince me that the commenters were right that I am unjustly lucky to have him.) And I’m still not clear on what it all means.

But: As someone who, a year and a happy wedding later, nearly didn’t write this because it would mean revisiting the mild depreciations of trans-Atlantic strangers, I recognize that it is impossibly hard not to care. But I submit to you that, whatever your wedding-related appearance-based insecurity is, it might be the kindest thing to let it go.

This post originally ran on APW in October 2013

Teresa Elsey

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  • NolaJael

    Ugh. Been there. Not with the internet strangers thing, but definitely with the obsessive but conflicted feelings about being “beautiful” on my wedding day. On an average day I wear no makeup (literally none), I towel dry my hair and I go about my merry business. But for my wedding? I got multiple expensive haircuts, overspent my makeup budget by a ridiculous amount, went into skincare stores I’d never set foot in before…and I felt like a shallow guilty traitor every single time. That was the worst part, it wasn’t even fun! It felt like an expensive burden. Because it wasn’t “for” me. Or my husband. It was for some nebulous “other” that expected something from me that I was not.

    • Alyssa

      Thank you for sharing this! I’m currently debating how much makeup I need to use on my wedding day. Friends are saying “you need it to be heavier than usual, so it shows up in photos” — but you know what? I don’t wear a ton of makeup to begin with , and I don’t trust myself to do a good job applying heavier makeup than usual; all it would do is make me feel insecure about myself. My main goal for my look on my wedding day is to look and feel like myself — and listening to others opinions and not my own is a surefire way to put my own instincts down and make me feel bad about something completely inconsequential.

      • Ashlah

        FWIW, I wear no makeup day-to-day, and I taught myself some very basic makeup for our wedding (pretty much foundation, blush, mascara). I also feel almost more self-conscious with makeup than without (did I apply it right? Does it look awful??) so something super basic was right for me–it gave me a boost and felt fancy without making me too self-conscious. A couple years later, for a boudoir shoot, I did do a full face of some serious professional makeup. It looks lovely in the photos, but it felt SO. WEIRD. It definitely would have been the wrong option for the wedding for me because I felt so not myself and so…well, made up, I guess! I felt like I was wearing a costume on my face! Fine for a photoshoot, not for socializing all day. All that to say, I think your thoughts are totally reasonable. You know you better than anyone else!

      • sofar

        This is why I was SO HAPPY I did make-up trials. Some make-up artists will pretend to listen to you and then just put on what they’ve defined as “Bride Makeup.” Be prepared to do multiple make-up trials. It was worth every penny I spent.

        I found it’s very important to say not only what you don’t want (“No smokey eye.” “No contouring.” “No cat-eye”) but also what you DO want. The latter was way more important because one make-up artist interpreted “I want to look natural, like myself” as tons of bronzer and weird high-lighter around the eyes.

        What I learned as someone who doesn’t wear much make-up day-to-day is that “heavy” (as in “lots of”) make-up CAN make you look really great and even “natural” in photos. So I stopped worrying about it “feeling heavy” (and accepted it), but worried only about it LOOKING heavy. What got me the look I wanted was being VERY specific: “I want to look like Lauren Conrad. Bright, creamy complexion, a bright coral/pink pop of lipstick, bold eyeliner on the outside two-thirds of the upper lash only, and long eye-lashes that make me look like a fairy.”

        I had layers of foundation that felt SUPER heavy, but the pictures came out awesome and I looked like myself (only a bit more airbrushed than usual). My husband cocked his head when he saw me and said, “OK good, you didn’t cake it on!” He was shocked when I removed the gobs of make-up later that night.

        • Alyssa

          Oooh thanks for the tip — I can get on board with LC makeup, as it sounds similar to what I would probably do (or want to do). Where did you go for makeup trials?

          • Lisa

            If you’re using a make-up artist, you would go to the salon or home where she’s located. If you’re planning to do your make-up yourself, Sephora offers a good service and allows you to try multiple products for free.

          • sofar

            I just went to a couple local salons. Three in total. So, yeah… expensive. But worth it. Plus, I scheduled them to coincide with nights out, so my make-up (even though I didn’t necessarily like it) was already done. Also had my sister’s friend give it a go when she did my hair trial. Kept her for my wedding-day hair, but she was a NO for make-up. :)

        • Jess

          I also brought in a few pictures of myself in what I would consider heavy-ish but still comfortable make-up to say, “Like this, but for pictures” to create a line of what I normally did and didn’t do, and would feel comfortable in.

          It was really surprising to see the make-up artist pick up on things I really like about my face by pointing out what I was doing in my make-up. She point blank said, “So, I see that you focus on your eyes a lot. They’re beautiful, let’s plan to make them the main feature for your wedding, too.”

        • flashphase

          I found my makeup artist on yelp and looked for reviews where people used the word “natural.” I ended up with someone who made me look like me, but better. Reviews, photos, and references can go a long way towards getting what you want!

        • Kim

          Agree with the heavy make-up that looks good in photos! I wear make-up every day (foundation, eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, and sometimes lipstick) and even I felt totally overdone leaving my trial! But, when I got in my car, I took a few selfies to see how it would look in photos and looked AMAZING! And a few of my bridesmaids opted to have their make-up done, and were worried they looked “overdone” but I thought they looked great and fairly natural…I think you just look different to you.

          • sofar

            Yep, I recently started wearing more make-up now than I used to (pretty much what you described) and it’s so funny how I’ll look back through my pictures and think, “Damn I look better at 32 than I did at 22. Thank you, Sephora!”

            I just went on a somewhat roughing-it vacation and every day, I put on bright red lipstick and tubing mascara. And my photos looked SO much better even though my hair was an unkempt mess. I know that doesn’t “matter,” but it made me so ridiculously happy.

        • Ella

          Flashback to the only time I’ve had my makeup done, which was for my formal (prom) – I said I wanted it to look fairly natural, and I showed her a photo of the exact thing I wanted. (Natural looking foundation, barely-there blush and lipstick, and a pop of colour in the eyes.) She said “Oh, this isn’t natural, she’s got coloured eyeliner” and proceeded to put on an inch of foundation, bronzer, blush, eyeshadow. (Of course I said nothing because I was 17 and she was a professional. *Sigh*) So I guess the lesson is not just knowing what you do and don’t want, but actually be willing to communicate that.

      • Laura C

        I did a trial with a makeup artist who repeatedly conveyed that it would not be acceptable to wear my glasses to my wedding (contacts hurt and I’m basically blind), and then ended up just going to an Aveda salon on the day of the wedding after doing a totally informal trial at a different Aveda salon a couple months earlier on the day of my high school reunion. I wrote down what they used, brought it on my wedding day, and it got tweaked a little bit. I felt like myself and it wasn’t a stressful process.

        • CMT

          That’s frustrating! I wear glasses instead of contacts because I think I look better with glasses than without glasses. I definitely wouldn’t leave them off on my wedding day. Not to mention I do like being able to see.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          Who is that makeup artist? I want to set a trial appointment with her just so I can laugh in her face and walk out.

      • My rule for my wedding was that I wanted to look like myself, but slightly fancier. Which is why I wore my glasses, cause I wear them everyday. Wear the amount of makeup you normally wear – you’ll look like yourself and you’ll fell like yourself, not like you’re playing a role.

      • AmandaBee

        I do think there’s something to the idea that slightly heavier makeup can look nicer in photos, but there’s the comfort tradeoff – if you aren’t comfortable (literally) in your skin, that will show too.

        I told my makeup artist that I typically wear something like tinted moisturizer + blush + mascara, and asked for one step above that. The “one step above” rule worked well for me – she used a BUNCH of products, but used such a light hand with them that it actually looked great. I just didn’t want to look like my foundation had been spackled on with a trowel.

        +1 to the suggestion to do a trial, and also look at what’s included in their standard “package”. I found that the makeup artists requiring a full face, falsies, airbrush everything, etc. generally made looks that were a bit much for me.

        I actually found my person by looking outside of the traditional “bridal” market – that had both ups and downs (she did really nice makeup, but sent me away with a lip gloss that wiped off in 2 seconds). But since I was more worried about being overly made up than under-ly made up, it worked for me.

      • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

        I’m a mostly no-makeup person, and I had to think hard about how I wanted my wedding makeup to look. I finally settled on as natural a look as possible, and I felt like me. And my pictures turned out fantastic!

      • Eenie

        All I wear daily is tinted moisturizer, mascara, and this clay setting powder that helps with the grease factor. I did the same thing for my wedding, but I had a talented friend mascara me because I kind of really suck at it (she does this basically whenever I see her and it’s like I magically have eye lashes). It was nice, I felt like me. I was also able to bring those things to the ceremony site if I felt like freshening up, but I didn’t end up doing that. And I look like a sweaty greasy person who danced her ass off the entire night, which is an accurate portrayal of my evening.

        Don’t do heavier makeup if you don’t want to.

    • Abs

      I’m dealing with the same thing. In my case it’s worrying about my skin, which I did not realize I was so insecure about until wedding planning. In this weird way it’s not just being pretty “for” other people, it’s the constant thinking–“but surely this is the point where I have to look my very best that I have ever looked.” And then freaking out that I might have a bunch of zits on the day, or that my hair (which I love exactly as it is usually) might do something weird. It’s like what is good enough for the rest of my life seems sad and insufficient for my wedding.

      I totally overspent my makeup budget, although to the extent that I now feel armed against the coming army of zits, I think it’s worth it?

      • Natalie

        As someone who has had acne since age 12, and who always thought I’d have “grown out of it” by the time I got married, yet did not, I can relate. I went heavy with foundation and cover up so zits wouldn’t show in the photos, and worried way too much about potential wedding breakouts. I had zits on my wedding day, but honestly it didn’t matter in the end. I look the best I’ve ever looked in my wedding photos, but it’s not because my makeup and hair were perfect (I kinda hated my hairstyle; too elaborate for it to look/feel like “me”). I look great in my wedding photos because I was so damn happy. That happiness shines through all the photos, even the ones I’m making weird faces and after the cover-up and blush had been sweated off and all of the lip gloss was completely gone and my hairstyle was starting to fall from the dancing.

        TL;DR: It’s worth it if it makes you feel better/less worried. But you’re going to look gorgeous because you’re going to be happy.

      • AmandaBee

        I get it – I was on spironolactone the summer of my wedding, which worked like a charm. It made me prone dehydration so I actually went off it after the wedding, but I didn’t want to worry about getting one of my giant chin pimples the day of. My breakouts get worse when I’m stressed so I KNEW if I didn’t do anything that I’d have a breakout the day of the wedding.

        You want to be comfortable in your skin the day of, and (as we know all to well) that’s hard with a monster zit brewing. Acne is a bitch, and working with a derm to get that under control was 100% worth it. Though I went off spiro, I’ve retained some of the topical products the derm gave me and they’re still super handy.

        (Though I will say in case it helps that during my makeup trial, I had some zits and you can’t even tell in the photos. Makeup artists can work magic! So even if one does sprout, it’s all gonna be okay.)

  • Cleo

    FWIW, I saw your proposal video when it came out and my thoughts were – “What a beautifully secure woman! I would never have been able to keep myself together so well to even appear to be in the moment. And holy crap! How lucky is she that she has a person who loves her so much that he organized this huge gesture! And she looks so happy!!”

    Anyway, I’m sorry people on the internet are shitty, but all of us can relate to this experience on some level (enduring cruelty based on arbitrary standards of beauty), so solidarity fist bumps! And I love your writing voice – it’s so authentic and unique. I hope you keep writing; I’d love to read more.

    • NolaJael

      Same! I thought you looked incredibly poised considering that something unknown was obviously happening. All I can say is I hope a video of me never goes viral, I would not look that good.

  • sofar

    A couple I know had their proposal go viral. And they experienced a lot of ugliness, too. He got trolls accusing him of being “whipped.” And there was a lot of “this marriage won’t last, *I* got engaged while on the toilet, there’s no need to do anything extravagant!” But MOST of these people went after her looks. She thought she was going on a hike with her parents that day and was dressed for that. But, according to the Internet, she “wasn’t taking care of herself, it’ll only get worse after they get married.” “WOW, she has a bigger Jew-fro than HE does” and “I bet she forced him to propose. He’ll have a side-chick by their first anniversary.”

    • Kelly

      I have to laugh at the “*I” got married on the toilet part. I don’t know what it is with the internet, but everyone’s in a competition to have the cheapest proposal/wedding/dress etc… As if spending money on a wedding is immoral. Drives me crazy

      • Lisa

        Ugh, yes. One of my friends recently posted something like “Hey, weddings don’t actually have to be expensive! I never realized because all I’ve ever seen are stylized photo shoots!,” and all of her friends started chiming in with just how cheap they were able to get married and anyone who spent more than the $75 on a wedding licenses and a couple of Little Caesar’s Hot-N-Readies was morally bankrupt. I had to chime in to remind people that some brides and grooms have different priorities, and that doesn’t make them any less of a good person because they chose to appease their families or get married in a more expensive but geographically convenient location.

        • Laura C

          I’ve said this before, but when people trot out the “the length of a marriage is inverse to the cost of the wedding” nonsense it’s like “um, so Vegas weddings are the longest?”

          • penguin

            A+ comeback

          • Ella

            Well.. it *is* somewhat true though. In that there’s a correlation (in America) between spending less and lower rates of divorce. But it’s only one factor, and it’s only on average, and it doesn’t prove causation. Having a larger wedding is also correlated with lower rates of divorce, and feeding people costs money. So yes, it’s a dumb statistic to use against a couple who wants to have a big expensive wedding because it’s important to them and/or their families. But it could be helpful for people who *don’t* want big showy weddings to remind themselves/their families that more money doesn’t represent more love.

        • Katharine Parker

          The idea of a wedding requiring no more work than went into having some friends over after tennis practice in high school makes me laugh. Maybe for some, not for most! (Seriously, the lil Caesar reference is lol.)

        • The Cheap Olympics when it comes to weddings drives me insane. Any discussion of weddings on social media dissolves into “I’d rather have a down payment on a house!” as if one can’t have a wedding AND a house. Drives me bonkers.

          • Lisa

            Exactly! The two are not mutually exclusive.

          • Lisa

            Also, since you’ll appreciate this, the bride is in the MSP area. I think Midwesterners in particular attach a certain level of morality to a frugal existence.

          • lamarsh

            Yes, I love the upper midwest so much, but I am not here for their passive aggressiveness or their money judgment. My mom’s family was super judgmental about the money spent on my cousin’s very traditional sit down dinner wedding, but then judged the heck out of my other cousin’s brunch wedding. You cannot win.

          • AGCourtney

            Lol! *quietly raises hand*

            My now-husband and I had to have multiple chats about how yes, he had to cut down on his spending, but that I had to realize that spending money was not a sin. It was a bit of a shock to me when that clicked.

          • Lisa

            Oh, I have hoarding tendencies, which extend to money as well. One of the nice things about our budget is it shows me we’re spending normal amounts of money and that it kind of gives me permission to spend in ways that align with my own values.

          • Alyssa

            My mom is from the midwest and the phrase “Midwesterners attach a certain level of morality to a frugal existence” sums up her philosophy perfectly.

          • jem

            hahaha yes. even though we have a pretty generous wedding budget (thanks mom!), i have this insane competitive instinct to come in under budget for every line item. you can take the girl out of the midwest… but it is SO HARD to overcome that impulse to be competitively frugal

          • Lisa

            My sister and I were given the same wedding budget and told that we would get any money we came in under budget as a check. I had to accept early on that I was not going to “win” this contest because we got married in a big city with almost double her guest whereas she had a smaller affair in small town Ohio.

          • penguin

            These drive me nuts too. I’ve been reading APW a long time (even though I just got engaged in December). My fiancé was of the “we’ll just cut costs and have a budget wedding so we can save for a house”. Once I showed him example weddings (thanks APW!) he realized that to have food and alcohol for 85 people, and music, and photography, and other things, we’d probably be spending more than that “$5,000 max” number.

          • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

            The Olive Garden rule pretty much broke my brain when we started planning. It was the perfect way to describe how much something costs!

          • CP2011

            Did anyone read that recent article in the NYT wedding section about the woman who planned her wedding in 6 days? I like the idea of sharing alternatives to the 12-month WIC expectation, but the tone was pretty condescending toward anything *other* than a weeklong engagement.

          • Jane

            I had not read that article until just now but agree that it came off super condescending. It just seems so obvious that you couldn’t do a wedding in one week if you say, wanted to include your family and they live far away or have commitments they can’t break. A tiny fraction of the people who I want to be at my wedding would be able to come to a wedding planned in one week. She said almost everyone was able to make it to hers, so that’s great. But it’s 1) not exactly something you can choose about your family and 2) really important to a lot of people.
            Also, somewhere in the part where she talks about applying this philosophy to other parts of her life, she says that something isn’t worth arguing about if it isn’t “eternally significant.” Hahahahaha. Boy would that not work in my life.

          • Jane

            To be fair – I don’t think I gave the writer the benefit of the doubt on any comments that could have been read as “look how this worked out for me, you could try it too” or “if you do more than me you are superficial and wasting your time and money.” I was immediately turned off when I realized she was working for the Little Sisters of the Poor for that insurance-contraception accommodation Supreme Court case. It made all the religious references in the article grate on me in a way they wouldn’t have if it had been someone just talking about her wedding and mentioning her faith during it.
            So I probably wasn’t very fair to her while reading it.

          • Abby

            I agree, that article was pretty tone-deaf in its condescension. Yeah, it WOULD be nice if all of your closest friends and family lived geographically close enough you could just book your dream venue with a week’s notice and say “hey we’re getting married, see you next Tuesday!” Good for you! But most people don’t have that option.

        • Alli

          UGH every time I see one of these conversations I want to shout “MY FAMILY IS LARGE AND WE LIKE TO PARTY, SORRY!”

          • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

            This was the theme of our wedding, basically!

        • penguin

          Yeah there’s no winning with those people. On the opposite end you have the “anything less than a fully catered, sit-down, black tie reception with an open bar is tacky” crowd.

    • Ashlah

      The one-lowmanship that comes up surrounding weddings is unreal. Usually it’s about wedding budgets/styles, but it’s definitely widespread in engagement story comment threads too. Just because one person was perfectly happy with a non-engagement-story engagement doesn’t mean anyone doing a big gesture is out of line or ridiculous. It’s so bizarre. It seems to be another example of “They’re doing something different, so they must be judging my choices, so I’m going to preemptively defend my choice by judging their choice harshly.”

      • sofar

        “They’re doing something different, so they must be judging my choices, so I’m going to preemptively defend my choice by judging their choice harshly.”

        You just hit on the best description of modern life. Ugh.

      • “They’re doing something different, so they must be judging my choices, so I’m going to preemptively defend my choice by judging their choice harshly.”

        This, exactly. Though with the OP’s video appearing in the Mail, it’s the choices of readers who support a racist, far right, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic organisation, so maybe they’re feeling extra sensitive because they know a lot of their choices are pretty damn bad.

      • Natalie

        Yeah, I see a ton of that, and I don’t get it, either. I love my low-key, very surprise proposal at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and would have hated a big public display FOR MYSELF. But I *LOVE* seeing others’ videos or stories of big, splashy, public proposals. Like, can’t we all just be happy for each others’ happiness without getting weirdly defensive and judgy about things that really are all about love?

    • Lisa

      That is so upsetting. I often think that there’s such a catch-22. You can’t tell a woman about the proposal because then she’ll ~*~know~*~, but if you catch her by surprise, she’s likely to end up wearing a bathrobe or her holey jeans and have un-manicured nails, which is the greatest post-engagement photo sin of all.

      • scw

        I knew I was getting engaged because my (now) husband was like “look, there’s no good way to tell you this but you might want to get a manicure before tomorrow.” hahaha

        • Kara

          My husband proposed 5 days into a camping/hiking trip sans showers, and I had snot frozen to my face…so, no hints were dropped :).

          • Natalie

            Me, too! Well, it was 3 days into a backpacking trip at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and I was sweat-covered rather than frozen-snot covered (although I’ve been there, too). But yeah, there was NO ONE for miles, so all our “we just got engaged” photos are selfies from my iphone and my hair and face are super greasy and you can see a ton of zits cuz, shockingly, I don’t wear makeup on backpacking trips…. I can only imagine the massive level of shaming and internet snark that would occur if those photos went viral.

      • Lawyerette510

        Or she’ll be in a jester’s costume, drunk and so shocked she responds “What the f*ck!”

        I mean that’s what I’ve heard… and by heard I mean, that’s exactly what happened to me.

        • Lisa

          How many times can I like this post? Because it is perfect.

    • Jane

      What is wrong with people?!?! The idea that how a woman looks says ANYTHING about what kind of partner she is or will be is so insulting.

  • Amy March

    Such a fun proposal!

  • Kara

    Hi Teresa, I loved your engagement video!

    While I didn’t have internet trolls bashing me for my appearance, the struggle with beauty is real (and was real for planning our wedding almost 8 years ago). I had an epiphany when I was about 12 years old that while “The Ugly Duckling” was a cute book, I wasn’t going to magically turn into a beautiful woman. I could either focus on trying to obtain what *I* believed was beautiful, or I could focus on other aspects of my life (just for the record, I chose to focus on academics, friends, kindness, joy, etc.).

    Fast forward. At 33, I still have moments of doubt or days/weeks when I don’t feel beautiful (definitely planning a wedding didn’t help), but I feel like you eventually, you kind of grown into yourself.

    Whoever you may be, you start to hopefully feel more comfortable as you.

  • Alli

    Internet strangers are the worst (well, obviously not you guys, you’re all great). When I was a teen, a crime that happened to me was written about in the news on multiple sites. Hundreds of people took time out of their day to comment that the whole thing was probably my fault. They read the news and thought “hm, this young girl I don’t know was very personally hurt, why don’t I tell the internet that she’s wrong and a liar and a slut anyway?” Luckily my name and picture wasn’t on anything, but it was awful to read those comments and know they were about me.

    • CMT

      Oh geez, I’m sorry. People are the worst. The internet is the worst. (Except for this place; this place is the best.)

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    • Anon For This

      I know an older man who was locked up for 30 years because he smuggled cocaine into the country in his twenties. It was back in the 1980s when they decided to hand out insane sentences. He was released a couple of years ago and there was a write up on how he was a model prisoner who taught himself many skills during his sentence.

      You should have seen the nasty comments. More than a few said he’d be back to crime in no time, and that he should rot in jail for eternity. In real life, he now owns two thriving businesses and volunteers at a church. He also appears at speaking engagements for a group who is trying to amend excessive drug sentences.

      Commenters on the Internet are heartless.

  • Her Lindsayship

    My wedding is less than four months out and more expensive than we hoped in so many ways, yet here I am suddenly second-guessing my decision about hair. I know my sister can make my hair look good, but can she make it look WEDDING good? Maybe I should throw hundreds of dollars we don’t have at hiring a professional so that I really look like a bride.

    • zana

      Go with your first instinct. Weddings will drive you bonkers with second guessing. You’ll likely second guess your second guess. Third guess?

    • Lisa

      Have you practiced the hairstyle with your sister at all? If not, now is the time to do it so you can feel confident in the look you’ve decided on for the wedding. Also, this will save you from becoming my sister, who decided to do her own hair, never practiced it, and spent the entire morning of her wedding yelling at everyone out of frustration because she couldn’t get it right. For your sister’s sake, don’t be my sister!

      • Jane

        Was just going to say this!

        Also, try not to let your sister catch your “it has to be wedding good” anxiety if at all possible. Make sure she knows you trust her and that you know she’s not a professional. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a loved one. You don’t want your sister to feel like she might let you down.

      • Her Lindsayship

        Unfortunately, we live 2000 miles apart, so practicing now is out of the question. She’ll be here a few days early for the wedding, so we can practice at that point at least. I’m not asking her to do anything very complex either, because I know that will only stress us both out. I just wish we could do an earlier trial run!

        • Lisa

          Do you have any special occasions for which you could justify getting a trial wedding hairdo done at a local salon? Or could you invest some time in learning to do the hairstyle yourself? Since you can’t do a hair trial with your sister until the week of, it might help to have a back-up plan if you don’t like what she ends up doing. That way it’s great if things work out, but if they don’t, you don’t have to be stressed about figuring out the alternative.

    • Anon

      Don’t second guess. I spent $500 on my hair (including trial) and absolutely hated it on my wedding day. I wish I had spent nothing and had a friend do it – it would have been better than the professional!

      • Jess

        yeah, I got my hair done for $$ and it was… fine. Like, it wasn’t awful, but it looked the same as every other time I get my hair done for events, and I don’t like it. But it’s the only thing professionals seem to be able to do to my hair.

      • Her Lindsayship

        This is exactly my fear. I didn’t budget anything for this because we need to keep costs down and I knew I had talented people that could do it for me. It’s just that as it gets closer, these little worries make their way in. My sister has done my hair many times throughout our lives, and she may not be a pro but at least she’s already familiar with it and with me.

    • Fushigidane

      Doing your own hair or having a family member do it can be the best option. No one knows your hair better than you and the people that spend time with you. I’ve always liked my hair better when I do it myself. For my friends’ weddings I did my own hair and it came out great. For my wedding I’m getting someone else to do it since I don’t want to be snapping at people and in a time crunch because it wasn’t perfectly centered and I can’t see the back of my head while I’m doing it. Plus another great advantage to having someone you know do it is you can do a lot of trials with different styles to see what you like best.

    • Fiona

      My sister did my hair, and we’ve done each others hair since we were kids. She was really careful and practiced a couple times before the wedding, and I was thoroughly pleased and we had a great time doing it (we really took our time). https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/51762094504fb1ed3d81854783958159f66dc3ffedd81198ab72d9aec2e7dfbf.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0fdd72f2513e17f50bde8d060c3ef13d5bb6522d3115174bca3992e0649af3e3.jpg

      • Jane

        Aww. It looked great. And what an awesomeness sister moment.

    • Emily

      Just to offer a counterpoint – I made a last minute decision to get my hair done by my usual stylist before I eloped at city hall – I think she charged me $70 and it was the best hair I’ve ever had. Like I have all these pictures with one of those effortless looking romantic and flowy updos that I still wonder how it all came together…

      • Emily

        Oh also just to add I originally found her on yelp. So miracles do happen.

      • Her Lindsayship

        $70??? That’s amazing. Sounds like it turned out great :)

    • Eenie

      So the one issue I ran into having an out of town friend/non professional do my hair was that she was so sick (literally shaking and trembling, later had a seizure and left the wedding) she wasn’t able to finish my hair.
      If you hire a professional, it lowers that risk – they’d find you a sub. Leading up to the wedding said friend wasn’t if sure if she’d make the trip, so I last minute booked a salon and they let me cancel 24 hours beforehand. It was by far the most stressful part of our wedding day/week. It wasn’t even on my radar either as something that could go wrong. So I’d recommend having a contingency plan of some sort.

    • Lawyerette510

      I did my own hair and then had a friend help with the back, and I was so happy with it. Partially just because I know how I like to wear my hair, but also because I practiced a lot with getting just the right combo of products, so I was confident. You will look wedding great. I say go with your gut on this and have your sister do it.

    • Natalie

      I had my hair done professionally, and ended up disliking it. I wish I had done it myself, or had a friend practice then do it for me. In my photos, my hair just looks too elaborate and very much not me. Objectively, I think it looks Wedding Good. But I wish it looked Me On A Perfect Hairday Good instead. So tossing in the suggestion that maybe you’ll be happier with your sister, who knows you and your style well, doing your hair than a stranger (even a stranger who does a trial hairstyle that you like).

  • Essssss

    Eff the haters. I never saw that video before, but it brought tears to my eyes. What sweetness. Congratulations!

  • JenC

    I know this doesn’t help with the feelings that the comments caused (and I certainly hope it doesn’t harm) but the daily mail is like a more gossipy version of Fox News. The headlines are designed to be sensational and continuously make people question whether we are actually back in the 1950’s. The commenters are the type of people who believe that every terror attack is because we’ve built *gasp* mosques. The leader of the Scottish National Party is a woman. The Prime Minister is a woman. A meeting between these two women to discuss the future of Scotland and independence in light of Britain leaving the EU was held, two powerful politicians discussing the future of two countries in a time of great uncertainty. The mail’s headline was who had the nicest legs. I recognise that I’m making a very general sweeping statement but daily mail commenters would have probably voted Trump had they been in the US. So what I’m trying to say is that these readers and commenters don’t really have sound judgement on any issue. It’s easy to say this having not lived through it but I would really try to find that not getting validation from this (again generalising) type of person would be refreshing because it probably means you’re at least a halfway decent person.

    • I think even describing it as a gossipy version of Fox isn’t quite grasping the nettle when it comes to the Mail. This, after all, is a newspaper that has repeatedly and consistently supported far right fascist parties since its inception: it crowed about the invention of concentration camps during the Boer War, supported Mussolini and Hitler (and their unsuccessful British counterpart, Mosley), stood against boycotting South Africa over apartheid and is currently propping up UKIP. Their rhetoric hasn’t wavered, either – in the 30s they were advocating letting Jewish refugees drown, and last year it was middle eastern refugees.

      The Mail Online is the money making side of the operation: it finds viral articles and republishes them with minimal edits to attract an overseas audience that don’t know its history. I suspect that’s how they found the OP: one of their staff writers (they apparently pay pretty well, so there are a lot of desperate lefty journalists churning stuff out for them while trying to scrape together something serious for one of the broadsheets) probably thought it was a cute proposal and would give their WIC advertisers something to hang their ads off and generate some more revenue.

      A lot of readers would reject the idea the organisation is pro-nazi (it’s just saying what everyone is thinking, and they’re not cowed by political correctness gone mad!), and those that do insist it doesn’t matter because they only buy it for the columnists, or tv guide, or horoscopes, or magazines, or giveaways, or… They’re only supporting the pro-nazi organisation as a byproduct, you see. The Daily Mail is slowly radicalising them to the far right with gossipy pieces about Prince Harry’s bum alongside articles about why refugee children are a threat to your own.

      So, for the OP, it’s definitely worth looking at these comments through the lens of the Mail’s readers values. These are sad, scared people, lashing out because they’ve been told that anything outside their own sphere of experience is dangerous to them. That a woman could be happy and loved without wearing make up or wearing designer clothes destabilises the system they’ve built their lives on, that happiness and love are rewards for fitting in a very specific kind of box, and they’ve tortured themselves to fit in it and they’re still not happy and there you are, a contradiction of every rule they thought they had to follow. They’re terrified of you, OP, and more power to you for it!

  • Pingback: Strangers on the Internet Ripped My Proposal Video Apart, but This Is What I Learned | Wedding Adviser()

  • Emily

    The Amish I believe consider calling someone “plain” to be the highest of compliments – maybe you should take it like that! In all seriousness though women are more than a series of body parts assembled and presented in a societally “correct” way. This idea foisted on women that the most important thing is what you look like and how you present yourself is dangerous and undermines especially younger girls / women’s ability to fully achieve their dreams. I’m not knocking people who enjoy beauty / fashion etc as a hobby or a vocation but rather the enforcement of it on women and girls regardless of interest – you can’t be an astronaut if you won’t put on the helmet cause it would flatten your hair.

  • gipsygrrl

    I want to throw a rock at the computer of every person that left you a mean comment. What is WRONG with people?! FWIW, you and your proposal look darling and you are obviously a very smart, astute woman who will continue to produce great things in the world.

  • mui

    Ok I didn’t see the video but skimmed over the article with the photos. Such a sweet and thoughtful proposal. I’m sorry people on the internet say such terrible things. I’m glad you were able to let it go the mean things people said.

  • Alexandra

    Being ripped apart for my looks on the internet is my worst nightmare. Actually, being ripped apart for anything on the internet is my worst nightmare.

    I had two kids and my waistline flew away. I stopped bothering to dye my greys. I stopped spending $400 every nine months on a straight perm and just let my hair be curly. I stopped worrying about makeup except for about as much as that nice Alicia Keys wears. I exercise enough to be healthy and to be able to hike on weekends, but not enough to lose the 10 lbs from having kids. I eat well enough to be healthy, but I don’t deprive myself of wine, pizza, or chocolate. I look…normal. I allow pictures of myself with my kids to be posted on facebook even when my hair is being frizzy and I’m not wearing makeup. I just can’t be bothered to get worked up over it.

    When I look at pictures of myself from five years ago, back when I was single and childless, I marvel at how cute I was. Oh well. I have a beautiful family and a meaningful career. Cuteness descended in the priorities list.

    I watched your engagement video. Personally, I think you and your husband are cute as can be. Only problem is that it went viral online for a bunch of sad haters to throw rocks at. There’s more to life than cuteness. The internet hasn’t gotten the memo on that yet.

  • Kate

    Ugh, people are so horrible. Your engagement video made me happy cry at work.

    I always remind myself when stuff like this happens to me or people around me that those comments come from a deep place of insecurity and a need to put others down to feel validated. And I always end up feeling sorry for the person who made the comment, because they’re so insecure it was worth it to them to tear another person down to feel better.

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