If you’re familiar with the digital phenomenon of ‘ring shaming’ Facebook groups then you’ll be aware of just how fiery the discussion between the (predominantly female) members can get.
For the uninitiated, a ring shaming Facebook group is just that — a Facebook group where members post photos of wedding or engagement bands (mostly other peoples’ but sometimes their own) to be openly ‘shamed’ or criticised by fellow members all in the name of fun.
To keep things from getting too out of hand, members are encouraged to restrict their opinions to the ring itself, not the owner nor the boyfriend/fiancé/husband who may have gifted it.
That wasn’t the case, however, when Baylee from Texas in the US offered up a snap of a ring that she’d received from a ‘customer’ for critiquing.
“Shame this ring with me, one of my customers got it for me,” she wrote.
“I acted grateful as to not be rude, but I HATE heart-shaped jewellery,” she added.
Instead of the typical cheeky jabs at the shape or style of the ring, Baylee’s post stirred up a huge debate in the comments section about her gratitude — or lack thereof — for the gift.
Group members divided into two camps, one of which slammed her ‘snotty’ attitude and the other which leapt to her defence.
“Your attitude is shameful, yuck,” wrote one member.
“You SHOULD be grateful. Even if it isn’t your taste,” added another.
One was so incensed by Baylee’s opinion that their distaste for the ring paled in comparison.
“Gonna try and ignore how snotty your statement comes across and pay attention to the ring. Nope. Can't do it. I hate it too, but damn. Come on now,” they remarked.
Others came out in support of Baylee, with one member calling those who were ‘doggedly attacking’ her ‘even worse’ than the ugly ring itself.
“Every engagement ring is essentially a gift and we hate on those. What’s the difference here?” another pointed out.
“It’s a bloody ring shaming group get off ya high horse and shame the ring?” added one.
Others still were taken aback by Baylee’s customer’s ‘inappropriate’ move.
“Why [the f***] would a customer think this is appropriate? This would weird me the hell out,” one wrote.
“I once had a customer bring me a coffee and it made my whole day. This is not the same. Heart-shaped jewellery is never appropriate,” said another.
Changing their tune
The tide of vitriol began to turn when Baylee revealed that she used to work as a waitress at the chain restaurant Hooters and the ring was actually an unsolicited gift from a ‘strange’ male customer.
“He got me this stupid ring to make me feel like I owe him my time outside of work, it was weird and borderline manipulative,” she wrote in response to a particularly nasty comment.
“I don’t work there anymore because of customers exactly like this who think if they get me an unwanted gift I owe them something. He didn’t even know me enough to know what ring size I am or what kind of rings I like.
“No matter where I worked it’s strange/inappropriate to me for someone who doesn’t even know my ring size or jewellery taste to give me a diamond ring at my place of work”.
Pretty soon those members who had roasted Baylee for her behaviour were returning to the post to apologise.
“That’s pretty creepy and I’m sorry that someone made you feel that way,” one wrote.
“Your post did come across like you weren’t grateful which is understandable now but I think a little context would have made this post go a completely different way,” said another.
Despite the olive branches, those who had staunchly defended Baylee prior to her Hooters update didn’t hold back.
“A ring from a customer is ALWAYS CREEPY!” one wrote.
“It's bulls**t like this that make women feel like they ‘owe’ something for unwanted gifts. The fact that you are going overboard to defend a stranger's gift to a woman, but you are down to shame a woman's engagement ring or family heirloom, tells me you have an internalised hate on for women, and you need to grow up.”
Ring shamer speaks out
Baylee tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the ring shaming backlash was ‘kind of funny at first.’
“I was thinking ‘what are y’all even mad about right now?’ she says.
“But then some of the worse comments reminded me of the reasons women allow themselves to push their emotions aside to please men or the reason why women feel so uncomfortable coming forward about domestic abuse or sexual assaults.
“There are not only men but women as well who take any opportunity to blame them for their own victimisation.
“Of course, my story and [Facebook] post aren’t that extreme by any means but I think it’s a really good example as to the logic that victim-blamers have.”
Baylee was struck by the way she was treated by group members before and after revealing details about her job and the customer.
“A lot of the negative posts were from people assuming the worst from me yet the best from the random guy who gave it to me which I think speaks very loudly of our culture,” she says.
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