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This story is being featured as part of our “Yahoo Best Stories of 2015” series. It was originally published on March 26, 2015.
Kristen Layne, posing in the junior prom dress she was trying to sell. Photo by Go Fund Me.
It’s high-school prom season and you know what that means — it’s all about the dress. And Tennessee senior Kristen Lane, 18, had a super-savvy idea when it came to buying hers: She’d first try to sell her junior prom dress (which had made her feel like a “princess”) by posting a photo of herself in it on Facebook, then buy a new one with the money she earned, which would be supplemented by donations to a Go Fund Me page she set up. Pretty smart, if you ask us.
Unfortunately, Layne became the target of some vicious online trolls — two men who relentlessly attacked her weight and looks on Facebook, Layne told WSMV. In response, the White House High School student politely commented: “Can you please stop with the comments? Sorry that I’m not pleasing to your eye.”
Layne tells Yahoo Parenting, “The comments made me feel horrible about myself. But the bullies aren’t my concern right now.”
That’s because of what happened next: Within 10 minutes, hundreds of strangers jumped to her defense, calling her “stunning” and “beautiful on the inside and out” on the post. “The uplifting comments made me feel so much better about myself,” says Layne, who added that she’s not used to hearing such praise about her appearance.
Along with the emotional rewards came financial ones. While she’d hoped to raise around $350 on Go Fund Me, Layne, thanks to media attention, has so far raised $5,000 from strangers who wanted to avenge the cyberbullies. Though she’s not yet sure what she’ll do with all the money, she’s so far used some of it to buy a friend the prom dress of her dreams. “I paid it forward and she will look beautiful on her prom day. I’m also doing her hair and make up that day. Thank you guys so much for y’alls support,” she wrote on the Go Fund Me page. In addition, Layne donated the dress she had intended to sell to another student who couldn’t afford to buy it.
Bullying expert and psychologist Dr. Joel Haber tells Yahoo Parenting praised the way that people were able to turn around a cyberbullying incident that could have easily gone another way. Although Layne would have been better off simply ignoring the mean commenters — “It gives these trolls more fuel and power, they want attention,” he explains — the others who rallied to her support behaved beautifully. “Always share and comment on the positive,” Haber says, “and take the high road.”
Now Layne is counting down the days to her prom on April 18 — and looking forward to her big reveal. “I found my dress,” she says, “but I’m keeping it a surprise for everyone to see.”
We can’t wait to see you sparkle and shine.