Earlier this month, Grace, 17, uploaded a few TikTok videos of her and her boyfriend Zach dressed formally for their high school homecoming, in which she included some of the professional photos shot of the couple posing in a sunflower field before the dance.
For the occasion, Grace wore a short black dress that she told BuzzFeed she had altered to resemble the infamous “revenge” dress worn by Princess Diana for a party hosted by Vanity Fair in 1994.
However, although Grace said she “loved” how the photos of her and her boyfriend came out, she revealed in a TikTok uploaded on 4 October that her boyfriend’s mother had shared the pictures to Facebook, where her dress was criticised by adults.
“My boyfriend’s mom started telling me how the pictures had somewhere around 32,000 likes. She was talking about all the nice comments, and then she said: ‘And of course, there are the negative ones as well.’ My heart kind of immediately sank because I felt so confident about my appearance and attire that night, and I didn’t want that confidence I had to be in a way stolen from me,” Grace told BuzzFeed.
In the clip, in which the Alabama teenager can be seen talking in front of a photo of her and her Zach kissing ahead of the dance, she wrote: “I loved how my pics for homecoming came out. My boyfriend’s mom posted them on Facebook…”
Grace then proceeded to share screenshots of some of the comments that were left under the photos of her and her boyfriend on Facebook, which included bullying from adults about the length of her dress.
In one comment, a woman named Rhonda described the dress as “inappropriate” before victim-blaming women and stating: “Don’t dress like you are asking for it.”
“And, no I’m not jealous,” Rhonda continued, according to the screenshot, adding that she was instead “disgusted” by the way “girls dress like tr*amps instead of beautiful young women”.
Other commenters questioned whether Grace’s parents had seen her dress, with someone else writing: “Wow. Did her parents see her in that? Way too short and looks trashy on such a pretty girl.”
In the comments, Grace clarified that her boyfriend’s mother had posted the photos to a public page on Facebook, and that the mean comments weren’t her fault as it was “random boomers just hating”.
Grace’s video has since gone viral on TikTok, where it has been viewed more than 10.1m times. It has also prompted an outpouring of support for the teenager, as well as disgust directed towards those who wrote the comments on Facebook.
“Parents are so concerned about bullying yet are fine with it when it’s their middle-age-self bullying minors on Facebook,” one viewer commented.
Another said: “Not every last one of them sexualising you while calling you a child…”
“They are all sexualising you. THEY are the problem. The pics are so cute,” someone else wrote.
According to Grace, her initial reaction upon reading the negative comments had been shock, as told BuzzFeed “most of them were from women - and they were all mothers and grandmothers”.
“The only question I had was, Why? I didn’t see anything wrong with my photos, so why were there negative comments?” she added.
In a follow-up TikTok video, which has been viewed an additional 1m times, Grace revealed that she had replied to the comment written by Rhonda on Facebook, with the teenager showing a screenshot of her reply.
“Hey! I’m the 17 year old in that picture that you, a grown woman, are talking about,” Grace wrote, according to her TikTok. “I was not dressed like a ‘tr*mp’. My dress was finger-tip length, my parents (who are 60 and 52) both approved of the dress, and I had on shorts underneath.”
Grace then continued: “I’m also 4’11 so I had my dress altered to look good on MY BODY and to fit MY HEIGHT. Nice try though ma’am. I hope you have a nice day and I hope you don’t call yourself a good Christian when you’re calling a 17 year old a tr*mp.”
In the comments, many TikTok users revealed that they had also been replying to Rhonda on Facebook, with one viewer writing: “Rhonda chose the wrong generation to pick on.”
Ultimately, Grace told BuzzFeed that, in light of the experience, she wanted to remind others that what they choose to wear is “their choice” and that nobody has the “right to tell someone to cover up”.
“As long as no one is being harmed, it’s nobody’s business. I dress the way I dress because I know what looks good on my body and what makes me feel confident in my own skin,” she said.
On TikTok, the teenager also took the opportunity to thank the hundreds of people who left supportive comments.
“Zach and I just wanted to say thank you for all the love and sweet comments everyone has been leaving,” she captioned a photo of the pair dancing.
The Independent has contacted Grace for comment.