Wherein I Properly Thank The Nasty Internet Commenters

Ignore the haters. You're awesome.

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 (the now-you’re-engaged checklists that start with “set your wedding weight loss goal,” the vendors who dismissed my fiance’s questions with “whatever the bride wants”).

It was, instead, the direct insults of Internet strangers, who had seen a video of my fiance’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.

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) fiance. 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.

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 fiance. 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.

Teresa Elsey

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  • N

    I confess, I googled you and watched the video. What a sweet proposal and I am in awe of your ability to keep it together because I would have been a blubbering mess! I honestly think you look really pretty and I love your long braided hair (my hair is very similar so maybe I’m biased).

    Have you read the comments on other people’s videos? Go look at any video of normal people or of Beyonce, Taylor Swift, etc and you’ll find the meanest and most horribly cruel comments about the women’s appearances. People on the internet are just mean. I know it’s easier said than done, but you have to realize that the meanness is their problem and not any reflection on you.

    • Yes! You look so glow-y and joyful. (Also, what a phenomenal proposal! My favorite “big proposal” I’ve seen so far.)

      I realize that after deciding not to care what internet strangers think about how you looked it may not be useful to hear more internet strangers tell you how lovely and attractive you looked, but you looked not only beautiful but also like someone I’d like to be friends with.

      May you and your husband always feel unjustly lucky to have each other!

      • Vee

        Oh, man! How is everyone finding it! I want to see too!

        • Vee

          Gawd… found it!

          First of all… Your proposal was lovely and your partner is obviously nuts about you. I know this is exactly the opposite of the whole point of the story but YOU ARE CLASSICALLY ATTRACTIVE! On a more subjective note, *I* think you are good looking! GREAT LOOKING! If the online tabloid you’re talking about is the Daily Mail, I’m not surprised about the comments. I lived in the UK for almost a decade and the DM is only for dregs of society.

          • Class of 1980

            Agree. She is not all “dolled up”, but she IS an attractive lady with a nice figure who is confident in her natural beauty. And I know several guys who would agree and prefer her the way she is.

            Those comments reminded me of the same nasty ones celebrities get.

    • meg

      The cruelty people get up to on the internet for sport is somewhat shocking (and, when thinking clearly, makes me sad about how personally miserable these people rather clearly are. You have to be really sad about your life to spend hours shredding people you don’t know…. I mean… seriously. This is what hobbies are for. Hobbies like KNITTING, not TROLLING.) It’s the worst of middle school, but in print where everyone can read it.

      Speaking of feminism, women are particular targets of this sort of thing, though a lot of it is women on women crime, which is a whole deeper discussion.

      • Stephanie B.

        The “Exactly!” button isn’t working for me, so I just wanted to say:

        ALL OF THIS. 100%.

    • LondonSarah

      I just don’t understand why people are so nasty in the comments – I mean what does it get you?

      Sadly it’s not just on the Daily Mail but places like the Guardian too (which is read by supposedly all the leftist do-gooders, where I’d hope for better). I’ve given up reading the comments anywhere but APW, there’s just no guarantee of a civilised conversation.

    • SamiSidewinder

      I didn’t look it up, so I have no idea what she looks like.

      But the heart of the issue that I got from the piece is: Why does it matter?

      Not that the author doesn’t want to hear your lovely comments about how pretty she is (most people generally like that), but the larger societal issue here is why do we feel the need to assign “pretty” or “not”. Why do we feel the need to compare how we look to another stranger? Why does her physical appearance have any bearing on the act of getting engaged or getting married? Why can’t we have a conversation or picture about a wedding without 5,000 “you look so prettys!” or “ewws”?

      I’d say human nature for the most part. But really internetz, can we stop putting our basest thoughts and fears in writing? Can we please move towards a land in which we recognize these thoughts as fear of not being (fill-in-the-blank) and keep it to ourselves?

  • Laura

    I remember this from the Daily Hate. There were some truly spiteful comments, I was quite shocked at the (thankfully) minority’s response to a very sweet proposal – although every one had more ‘red thumbs downs’ than ‘green thumbs ups’ from other readers, which is important to take away :)

    I think this is a really important message to women in the midst of wedding planning – there’s a great lesson in reconciling doing the things that make you happy and make you feel confident and comfortable on your wedding day, and trying to live up to other people’s expectations – or what you perceive to be other people’s expectations. It’s also a good reminder that there’s enough (implied / subconscious and enforced) external pressure on a couple getting married (and regrettably especially on the bride(s)), without torturing ourselves with our own expectations.

  • MEM

    “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.”
    THIS! I am having such a difficult time letting this idea go! When you put it so simply it seems ridiculous, though. Usually when I bring up my fear that the groom will not find me “pretty enough” I’m told “oh, of course he will!” When really, I guess the response should be “It doesn’t matter”.

  • carrie

    “There are people in this world who honestly believe that there is such a thing as not being pretty enough to deserve happiness.”

    This. Women’s worth sometimes seem to be solely based on looks and our fuckability. The first insult out of someone’s mouth to a woman is that she’s ugly/fat/insert insult here. And it works like a shot nearly every time. Most times that I’ve gotten into a scuffle with a stranger they’re go to is that I’m fat. Yes, I am, but you’re just pissed that I called you out on being a jerk. Or when a guy who cut me off and I gestured wildly with one finger, he pulled up alongside to say, “I don’t fuck transvestites.” REALLY?

    And this shit sticks with you. It sticks with me, that’s for sure, even if I know it doesn’t really matter. I’m sorry that such a beautiful moment captured and shared was rained on by others.

    • C

      Yes, this exactly. (I’m trying to “exactly” your comment but it doesn’t seem to be working.) Why do we insult women immediately based on their appearances? Even gorgeous movie star women are criticized for being ugly.

      Also, I went and watched this proposal video and not only was it super cute, but I didn’t notice any of the criticisms that the internet-trollers pointed out. All I saw was a confident young woman receiving tons of flowers from people with a huge smile on her face and then floating away on the arm of her brand-new fiance.

      Congrats on your first year of marriage and best wishes on many happy years to come.

  • js

    I know it sounds trite to say those people are jealous, but it’s true. To have soneone who loves you so much they would go to such elaborate lengths all to ask for the pleasure of spending the rest of their lives with you is a bigfuckingdeal. Not everyone has that and so they try to cut you down. I think you are very pretty and yes, very lucky. I also think that if it were me and all those people were staring at me, sweat would be the least of my concern, as I’d be trying not to faint or vomit. I think you handled the proposal and the haters with great poise. Thank you for being so honest and admitting that the bullying got to you. It takes time to feel comfortable in your own skin and thats beautiful. Best wishes to you and your husband.

  • moonlitfractal

    I also watched the video. It made my day. You two are so cute and looked so happy together!

    • one more sara

      I watched it too.. I especially loved the part where they walk out and totally ditch all the flowers. Too happy to even care <3

  • Jenna

    The last line really hit home for me: “…whatever your wedding-related appearance-based insecurity is, it might be the kindest thing to let it go.”

    I’m really struggling with this–with being kind and gentle with myself–and needed to hear this reminder today.

    Thank you for speaking up and sharing your experience with us!

    • Jenna

      And, oh my goodness, Teresa…..I just watched your proposal video and now I am happy-crying in the teachers’ workroom! :)

    • Granola

      When having trouble letting things go, I find resolutely ignoring the thing to be immensely helpful. If I can ignore it enough, it often does go away, which seems like close enough to letting go for me.

  • Fermi

    As if I wasn’t already an emotional wreck this week, I’m not one to write comments like these, but that video was too effing cute. Got a little teary eyed, but can’t cry since I’m at work. Congratulations!

  • Rebecca

    High five for a seriously awesome piece. Powerful stuff. I actually wore foundation for basically the first time ever at my wedding, and I’m still not sure if I wore it because of the wedding or because I’d been meaning to give it a go and the wedding was a good excuse. There’s some insidious stuff out there in the world.

    To block some of it, there is a plugin for the chrome browser (and firefox and safari too) that replaces you tube comments with herps and derps. Highly recommended.

  • Kestrel

    Ugh. Sometimes people make me sick. I’m so glad you were able to glean something from that because people suck sometimes!

    That is one thing that I wish would be more mainstream though – pictures of not-as-traditionally-beautiful brides. I actually find it quite easy to find plus size brides, but it’s incredibly difficult to see any photos with, for lack of a better term, ugly brides. It just doesn’t exist.

    • Amy March

      I have 2 thoughts about this:

      1.) the reason you don’t see photos of ugly brides is because no one looks ugly on her wedding day; and

      2.) I think photographers’ blogs are one of the most insidious forces in wedding planning. I like seeing ones that either don’t blog, or blog every wedding, because excuse me? I just paid you thousands of dollars and you don’t think my wedding is pretty enough?!? I don’t care that it’s quite likely based on wanting a range of locations and styles, I think I’d always be worried that it was my double chin.

      • I was SO insecure after our photographer didn’t blog about our wedding (though he did post “preview pictures” on his Facebook page, so there’s that). Likely, it’s because it was held in a visually-uninteresting church in the ‘burbs, when he’s usually out taking breathtaking photos of newlyweds against the Chicago skyline.

        I’m still half-convinced it’s because both my husband and I wore our glasses, a first for our photographer apparently.

        • I knew my photographer wouldn’t blog our wedding photos, even though they were probably some of the most creative she’d ever done (hello, wave pool?) because I’m fat (my choice of words, I’m totally okay with it). In my opinion she just missed an opportunity to show potential clients how fun she can be, and how willing she is to go out of her way to produce an awesome shot. Her loss, not mine! My photos still looked amazing. :)

      • Kathy

        Yes on the whether the wedding is “blog-worthy” or Facebook posting worthy! I find it really frustrating that I care at all, but I do find it slightly annoying that the photographer put multiple photos of other couples on their Facebook page and for ours it was a picture of… the cake. There is twenty years difference between the two of us and at 40+ years and 60+ years-old, we don’t fit the usual “profile” of a wedding couple that’s shown on blogs and portfolios. I suspect that this is why pictures of us aren’t posted, despite the fact that the photos are amazing and in a gorgeous mountain meadow. It makes no difference in my world whether they are or aren’t, but it makes me annoyed that we live in a world where it happens.

        • Chicago13

          Yet one more reason I love the THREE APW photographers I had the pleasure of working for engagement and wedding photos.

      • k

        Wow, this is fascinating to me to hear that people feel that way. For me, the main reason (aside from ahem, not in my budget) for choosing NOT to use a pro photographer was that they *could* put my photos up online, and My Wedding Is Not For Public Consumption, thankyouverymuch. I admit that in this day and age, my views on privacy mean that I’m often viewed as one step away from moving into a shack and stockpiling ammunition, but I sincerely can see no upside at all to having my photos public. So it’s interesting and educational to hear that there are (as usual) a bunch of people that feel exactly the opposite.

        (And I realize that APW is all about sharing your wedding, but somehow that feels a bit different to me than having your photos be used to advertise someone’s services. Even then, while I totally enjoy reading others’ stories, I still couldn’t quite bring myself to send in photos of my own. It also doesn’t help that my husband would be *appalled* at the idea of ending up online.)

  • MK

    I’m so sorry you were directly targeted by internet trolls, especially for such a positive and uplifting moment in your lives. Your fiance is undoubtedly sweet and a great match! And you handled it with such composure! (I am grateful I was proposed to in our home, because I burst into un-pretty tears).

    To extend you conversation a little further than your personal example, I’m very troubled by the girls (it’s always unmarried, youngish girls) on pinterest who demand that their future someone *hire a photographer* to capture their “special moment.” Of course, the images used for those pins are incredibly elaborate, every detail perfect like a movie set. And that worries me: what kind of expectations are we setting here? Now it’s not enough that you have a private moment of extreme joy? Now it has to be witnessed by others…and EVERYTHING (especially the bride, of course!) has to look beautiful in every way. Very worrying.

    • NicoleT

      I have to say something in defense of the pinterest demand. While it is certainly ridiculous to *demand* a hired photographer, I believe it’s fine to ask for one. I think I understand where your thinking is headed: facebook, social media, inspiring obsessive comparison disorder in others, etc. However, I believe that at least a fair number of people want a photographer so they have something to help them remember a very special event. When FH proposed to me, I could barely remember anything even an hour afterwards because I was so overwhelmed, so happy, and slightly scared. Fortunately, he had a couple friends take some pictures, so I have something to help me remember the moment. I actually kind of wish I had a recording because I know he said the sweetest things to me during the proposal, things that I’ve since forgotten. But besides all of that, photos are great to have for future kids and grandkids.

      Tl; dr: Exhibitionism is certainly something to be worried about, but it’s still nice to have photos to capture a very special moment.

      • My husband got our moment captured in a simple way. He asked our waiter to take our picture and then dropped to one knee just before the guy was able to press the button. It’s not staged or elaborate or Pinterest-worthy, but I still get to have an image of the moment my husband proposed and I love it.

    • Vee

      Obviously if whoever proposes makes arrangements for the moment to be captured on film, GREAT! But I know the pinterest post you’re talking about (an engagement bullet list right? Hire a photographer! Use my full name! Ask for my parents blessing! Make sure I have a manicure!).

      I got engaged in August. I’m a huuuuge feminist but I can’t lie and pretend I’m spending a lot of time in Wedding Dreamy Pinterest Town!! But when I see creepy wedding/engagement gifs like that I just think… ‘Why do you want to be proposed to? Does it even matter to you who it is?’

      I found APW very recently. I’d just seen a pinterest post of a fancy aisle runner where the person had noted “I want something like this but maybe over a fire pit and then we can stand OVER the fire during the ceremony when we say our vows”. I was starting to think there were no sane engaged people on the internet…

      • MK

        Yes, that’s what I’m talking about! Like “make sure I have a manicure”? Really? That’s what the important thing is here?

        …ah, the old flaming wedding dress tradition. Yes, very nice…

  • Kat R

    “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.”

    This is so where I am. I’ve considered myself a feminist for years, but I never had so much blatant sexism thrown specifically at ME until I got engaged. I had a low simmering rage at the wrongs against womankind already, but I feel like the personal insults threw gasoline on it and created an inferno. Feminism gives me the weapons I need to fight for myself when it feels like WIC wants to make me into a Stepford Bride.

    • AG

      When I updated my FB status to engaged, I IMMEDIATELY started getting weight loss ads targeted at me. Needless to say, the fiance did not.

  • Kathy

    I was surprised that my biggest internal conflict in all the wedding planning process was whether or not to wear make-up. I don’t wear make-up on an everyday basis and I so struggled with it. “Why did *I* have to wear make-up? My fiance didn’t! He got to look like his regular, everyday self.” Oh the heavy load of expectations we can start carrying around, eh?

    I spent WAY too much time on the internet researching, hemming and hawing, and trying to figure what felt right for me. I got the test run with the make-up artist – my first thought when I saw the results was UGH. I went to a consult at Sephora with a picture of very toned-down, natural look – excellent results. I ended up purchasing some products and doing a quick make-up application on the day of the wedding. Even when I was putting it on I was still wondering whether I sold some of my principles in the process of doing it. (Although, given the big zit I had that day it was probably a wise move in the end.)

    You know what I see when I look at our wedding pictures? Yes, I see me with a little bit of make-up on. But I also see someone beautiful because my smile is about to jump off my own face because I am so happy. And in the whole process and amidst all that angst about what to “look like” on my wedding day, I should have remembered what I already knew. HAPPY people are beautiful people.

    • Angela

      I reported instead of exactly’ed! Sorry! But this is perfectly what I usually feel and try to remember!

  • Rosie

    This is a great piece and I think you’ve raised a really important point about the expectation to conform to a certain standard in your looks on your wedding day. It made me think of this quote: “A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” (Roald Dahl, from ‘The Twits’). Staged magazine or internet pictures can seem perfect but they lack the emotion that hits you when you see pictures from actual weddings like those on APW. Real couples always look lovely because they’re happy to be together – make-up and a perfect body not required.

  • catherine

    this was awesome! loved reading your story. and you shed light on such a sad, disgusting, truth about a mentality that is really out there. ugh.

  • Mandymod

    It is disturbing how human beings can be so much more cruel when they don’t see someone’s face. You don’t see people walking the same way they drive, cutting people off and then giving the finger. They like to hide anonymously. Same with trolls. Same, for that matter, with drones.

    The funny thing is I actually had to stop wearing perfume, certain make-ups and hairsprays when I started dating my fiance because he has severe sensitivity to artificial scents. But society has this messed up idea that I need these things to make me beautiful and find love.

    I feel sad for people who have such limited ideas of what is “beautiful”. It means they probably won’t ever know real beauty.

  • Agnes

    I am a little confused here, because I just watched your engagement video after reading this essay. Tears are streaming down my face, and I am completely indignant because I just kept thinking “She is so freaking ADORABLE!!!!!” So I get it, blah blah blah, what we look like shouldn’t matter. But you look adorable.

  • Laura C

    I’ve been messing around with a blog post tentatively titled “Welcome to the most gendered day of your life” that was going to cover some of this ground (without your personal experience of nastiness, because thank goodness I haven’t encountered that). Now I’m trying to decide if I scrap it when you already covered so much, or if I go for it and quote you a lot.

  • Just wow.

  • Kristin

    Wow. Thank you so much for this wonderfully written piece – you are saying out loud something that so many of us deal with secretly! Especially the part about paying too much attention to arranging all the things you need to look pretty at the expense of attending to things that are more important, like helping grandparents and talking to old friends. I am absolutely guilty of this. Also I love the part about how it is impossible not to care when someone says something hateful or unkind about you – people always say to ‘just ignore it’ until they themselves are the object of the vitriol (then they find out it’s not that easy). We are all just human beings. It is in our nature to have hurt feelings when people say mean things about us, and beating yourself up for caring about negative things others say is not helpful either. Anyway thank you again for your articulate and honest piece, and congratulations on your wedding! I wish you all the happiness you and your husband clearly deserve!

  • Valerie

    I saw your video before. I don’t read comments on the internet, so I never realised it had gotten so much hate. I loved it! Watching it again and I still teared up. Those people clearly missed the point.

    What you say is so true and while I try to not think about it because the only opinion that would matter in the end is my future husbands, its just always there in the subconscious. We are suppose to look our best on our wedding. We are suppose to look like the models. I know I can’t and most days I am okay with that. There is always that one day though…

    Also, I am so tired of people telling me my grooms opinion in the wedding doesn’t matter.

  • I wish I had the answer on how to not care about Internet comments. It’s really hard not to take it all in and feel bad about yourself because someone thinks this (not based in any reality) thing about you.

    When I started blogging I had no idea how much criticism I’d be opening myself up to. It’s really stressful and a lot of times I want to run away and hide from the Internet.

    You didn’t even do anything asking for comment!

    Not that you need my approval in any way, but I (also guilty of Googling you) think you look lovely.

  • Wonderful post. I am so sorry that that happened to you (ugh, why do people suck?!) but so glad you were able to take something good away from it. Kudos to you for being strong enough to examine what was really going on culturally and socially instead of just letting awful people hurt you.

    For those who are still in the getting married process and have that icky worried feeling about looks and if they will be “pretty enough”: look, as a coordinator, I see a lot of weddings. A lot. And either I have an improbably gorgeous client base, or it’s the joy of being married that makes you look amazing on your wedding day, because every single one of my brides has looked stunning, whether or not she wore makeup or had her hair done or had a designer dress. All of them.

  • This sort of bummed me out until I Googled and watched it. SO JOYFUL! Just delightful. You are radiant.

    Also, thank you for the courage to write this, it’s incredible content, it’s an important conversation and it’s genuinely good to constantly remind everyone that the anonymity of the internet is a risky little game. Your comments may not be tied back to you, but they matter and their impact may go beyond what you ever envisioned. Watch your words, y’all.

  • Kate

    This was great, I am loving feminism month.

    And to repeat what others have said, I know this is not the point of your post, but I also watched the video and thought you looked great….if people said such horrible things about you, I shudder to think what the reaction would be to a video of me!

  • This is what keeps me coming back here: the kind of resilience and strength that you are modeling with this post, and the supportiveness of this community, is inspiring. Thank you for this. I wish you and your (amazing-sounding) fiance’ all of the happy things on your own terms.

  • Jules

    Teresa, I hadn’t seen your video but Googled it after reading your article. I think you look beautiful. Honestly.

    Without having to withstand an online beating from strangers, as a person planning their wedding I also feel immense pressure to look like the perfect bride and throw a perfect party. I have tried to resist so much getting sucked into the “bridal-world vortex”, but also find myself (stupidly) pinning centrepiece ideas and stressing over what my “colours” should be. Thank you so much for reminding me that this isn’t and shouldn’t be the focus; to centre on my relationship with my fiancé, my friends and my family.

  • Anne

    I remember seeing Teresa’s proposal online a while ago. It never occurred to me that people would (or could!) respond so negatively to such a beautiful moment. Boggles the mind.

    Teresa, if you and your husband have kids, imagine what a powerful story this could be for them. What an intimate way to teach your children why it’s so vital to treat others with kindness and model how to overcome inexplicable cruelty.

    At one of the schools where I teach, the children have to participate in a “digital citizenship” program. They have to sign a contract agreeing to treat others online with respect and kindness (amongst) other things. Perhaps the next generation will do a bit better…

    • Erin E

      I really love the idea of a “Digital Citizenship Program” for kids! I hadn’t heard of this before and it makes a ton of sense. Too bad we can’t retroactively apply it to the awful people who commented on Teresa’s proposal… those comments have made me so angry that I need to calm myself with some yogi tea and an uplifting teabag message about humanity. Argh!

  • Jack

    I got married a week and a half ago, and throughout the wedding planning process I had occasional breakdowns about how I would look, made worse by anger at myself for caring so much about what I looked like. The day was wonderful…and I keep reminding myself of Meg’s (I think?) observation that photos are not the product of a wedding. But I am kind of scared to get the pictures back.

  • Kirsten

    You, the video of your engagement and your piece today are beautiful. That is all.

  • Charis

    People like this make me worry for humanity. Ever heard of simple human decency? Urgh.

    I really hope this vitriol hasn’t ruined this beautiful moment for you, I think it should be like Meg says about weddings… you should remember how your proposal felt, not how it looked!

    I’m in the UK and I used to read the Mail daily, but gave it up cold turkey. I had been struggling with my weight and wanted to begin developing a healthy lifestyle and since I have struggled with unhealthy eating habits in the past I had to do it as safely as possible.

    Looking at the ‘sidebar of shame’ and seeing the most beautiful, talented and successful women in the world put through the grinder about their weight, looks, outfits and career and life choices everyday was damaging me. I was beginning to believe the way I looked was linked to my self worth. The attitudes of the paper and the commentators was just so effed up, it makes no sense to me!

    People who confuse looks with worth are the worst kind of people. If I were you I would put this so so far behind me! If your wedding is even a teensiest, tiniest bit as nice as your proposal it’ll be a wonderful day, whether you were make up or not.

  • Rachel

    What a beautiful proposal! Watched the video which apparently was not wise at work because I am tearing up! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  • Teresa, I think you look gorgeous! Thats all I can think of to say :) (I googled you too)

  • Kater

    “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.” <<<<<<< YESSSSSS!!!!

    Thank you for sharing — I have to be honest & fess up to being guilty on this front too, as much as I swore I wouldn't be.

    I just got married this past Saturday (yay!!) and in a fit of post-wedding exhaustion/delirium I let myself be upset about a few early photos I saw – "I wish my hair was different, I wish my dress was different, look at the double chin, etc." During the whole planning process I scoffed at the weight loss goals & tooth whitening plans I know people put on their wedding to-do lists and swore that those weren't MY goals — but the idea of being at your most beautiful on your wedding day is so sneaky, so pervasive, that it worked its way into my psyche…

    I am pledging to go forward and shift my focus from the weird way my dress fell in that one photo, etc. etc. to how happy my new husband and I look, the joy on our loved ones faces, the amazing dance moves, the love and happiness that was in the air!!

  • You are a lovely girl and that was a beautiful proposal! Some people just CAN’T be happy for others. The negative comments come out of jealousy!

  • Dawn J

    Thank you for sharing Teresa, this is so beautiful and so spot on, it made me tear up a bit. There is such an overwhelming urge, almost a compulsion, to ensure that everything about your appearance is perfect for your wedding day — in this daydream, your makeup is perfect, your dress is perfect, you are having the best hair day of your life, and every picture of you in your fancy get-up is perfect and pin-worthy. Oh, and all your body insecurities have mysteriously melted away (and you have somehow magically managed to lose weight while still not exercising and eating a bowl of ice cream every night). Meanwhile, I’m fairly certain that the only thought my fiance has had about how he will look on our wedding day is “I will wear that tux in my closet.”

    Being pretty is something, but it’s certainly not everything. Whatever marginal benefits pretty people get simply for being pretty (and yes, they do exist, biology be damned) pale in comparison to the lasting benefits of say, being kind to strangers and investing your loving energy into your most important relationships.

  • JackieD

    You looked beautiful and happy to me. I honestly have no idea why people would say the cruel things they did, but maybe the saddest part was that instead of being moved by your now husband’s outpouring of love on a grand scale, all they came away with was a judgement about your appearance. How terribly sad for them. I can only guess that they must be jealous, loney and/or bitter about your happiness for some reason that has nothing to do with you.

    Congrats on your marriage.

  • JessietheBrit

    I apologise on behalf of my people. there is a stereotype , “daily mail reader” in the UK for a reason.

  • Granola

    I just wanted to give you an internet hug. Your post is great and it also made me reflect on the times when my first reaction has been to judge other women on the way they look (because, well, I live in the same crappy gendered society too.). Which doesn’t make me proud but hopefully I can get better.

    Best wishes to you both!