POTTSTOWN, PA (WTXF) - A Pennsylvania teenager who took on body shamers and cyberbullies after posting her prom photos on social media last year, found the strength to return to prom this year after her heartbreaking ordeal.
Tayja Jones, then 17, couldn't wait for her prom night. In her mind, she had the perfect dress, and was ready to enjoy a perfect night.
It was her first prom, and she was understandably excited.
When she got home from an amazing evening she posted a beautiful picture of herself on social media and went to bed.
The next morning, the night of her dreams turned into a nightmare. Her friends called her to tell her that the photo she had posted had gone viral, but not for the reason Tayja thought.
"There were just like so many rude remarks and negative comments about how I looked. People I didn't know just like that dress is not for her, she looks like a fat something," Tayja recalled.
Most of the comments were so demeaning, they were hard to read. Tayja took the cruelty to heart.
She got back on social media and updated her status, this time writing that she shouldn't have ever gone to prom or posted the picture.
"It was just really hurtful because I was so confident the day before and it just changed my view of myself," she said.
Tayja and her family were heartbroken.
"She was just really depressed and sad. She doesn’t want to go out the house. She doesn’t want to go to school. She doesn’t want to go nowhere," said her mother Natina Parker at the time.
But as the negative comments spread, others began to stand with Tayja.
"This beautiful. Baby girl slayed prom. She's cute as ever. She is gorgeous. She has her own unique style and shape. We are all God's creatures perfect in his image. Shaming someone not only brings them down but brings yourself down with them. Spread love not discrimination," Tayja said reading some of the posts.
At the time, Tayja explained her struggle to believe in herself again but she has a message for others being bullied.
"You're not the only person. You should know who you are inside and the outside shouldn't affect the inner you. Just stay strong," she said.
The entire incident left Tayja unsure about whether or not she would attend her senior prom this year. Her mother hoped she would change her mind.
Luckily for both of them, Tayja's mind did change, and she shared photos on Instagram of her dress and date on her way to prom this year.