When Ashley Stevens took a selfie with her father and boyfriend Christopher Reed after catching the bouquet at her cousin’s wedding and posted it to Facebook, she never imagined that millions of people would be talking about it.
“I was like, ‘Let’s just make some goofy faces and take a funny picture,’” Stevens, 21, told ABC News. “Everyone knows that me and Chris are pretty serious. We’ve been dating for almost two and a half years, so we posted the picture to Facebook and everyone that we’re friends with loved it and thought it was hilarious.”
But talk they did -- and not all in a positive way.
A friend of theirs posted the photo to Reddit thinking it was funny, and the result was thousands of people commenting, many in a derogatory way against Reed, 21, for his weight and saying it looked like he had Down Syndrome.
“At first I was kind of upset about it because I wasn’t with Chris when I started reading the comments, and then I saw how he responded to it, and he was laughing about it,” Stevens said. “He was taking it really lightly, and so that reminded me that the people that are making comments about him don’t know who we are and they can’t really judge us because we don’t define ourselves by what other people call us.”
Reed’s first reaction when he saw the comments was to laugh it off, he said.
“Honestly, I’ve always been a big guy the majority of my life and so of course I had the comments and the cruel jokes growing up, so I kind of got used to it. I know who I am and I really don’t care what people have to say about me because I’m confident,” he told ABC News. "It’s trolls sitting behind their computers. They don’t know us and they can't talk about us, so honestly it just didn’t bother me."
Stevens posted a status to Facebook directed toward the comments, writing in part, “Well let me just tell you, I have won the jackpot with Christopher. Hey may not have rock hard abs like the world tells girls to want in a guy, but really, why does that even matter when you are trying to really find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with?”
Stevens goes on to talk about how thoughtful and patient Reed is.
“He does a lot of little things for me and I love him for who he is and he loves me for who I am. He’s my best friend,” she said. “We’re happy together and other people’s comments aren’t going to change anything.”
Stevens and Reed, who live in Columbus, Georgia, have gotten a lot of support from friends.
“I wouldn’t say it has changed [our relationship]. I would say, if anything, it’s brought us a little bit closer,” Reed said. “It’s made us understand how much our family and friends support us and our relationship.”
As for the haters? Stevens and Reed have taken the high road.
“We forgive anyone who made any negative comments,” Stevens said. “I would like them to know that.”