I Want The Target Bride From The Viral TikTok To Be Real, But I Don’t Think She Is
In this week's newsletter: Why a viral thing can still be good, even if it’s fake.
This is an excerpt from Please Like Me, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about how influencers are battling for your attention. You can sign up here.
Earlier this week, a two-part TikTok from user @boymom_ashley went extremely viral because it purports to show @boymom_ashley happening upon a ridiculous scene at her local Target. She recorded a bride stomping through the store with a bridesmaid, a pastor, and a cameraperson in tow to threaten her partner, an apparent Target employee, to marry her on site.
“I’m done. Like, if you don’t marry me this second,” the woman is heard saying in the second half of the viral TikToks. “Hi guys,” then she says, waving to the TikToker recording. “I’m just finally making him commit, you know?”
The videos are sensational. It’s the stuff our messy, voyeuristic selves love to indulge in and speculate wildly about: Who is this woman? What decisions led her to this moment in her life? Is she the protagonist? Is she the villain? How can I project all of my moral high ground onto her and her cartoony would-be spouse? It’s no wonder the videos have collectively been viewed over 7 million times on the platform, and has become so viral off-platform that people are still tweeting, and wondering, about her today.
The spectacle was so good that publications like the New York Post couldn’t resist writing about it — even after, as they noted, Target told them the man in the video was not an employee.
(Target also confirmed to me that he is “not a Target team member,” a spokesperson said.)
I have to say, upon first watching it, my first thought was that this kind of right-place, right-time viral recording seemed too good to be true. And, for as many TLC reality shows as I’ve watched, I’m always a bit suspicious of people playing out outrageous dramatics for our viewing pleasure. But I did want the Target scene to be true.
I tried my best to reach out to @boymom_ashley, whose real name is Ashley Domingues. Her videos are now licensed to Caters News, whom I also reached out to for more information. No one’s gotten back to me. However, things got more interesting when I found the bride online. Her name is Anna, and she has a fairly successful Facebook comedy page where she posts various sketches. In one recent sketch she posted last week, she’s in a similar wedding dress and feathered earrings. And the man seen in the TikToks as the “Target employee” and partner looks like a man she’s featured in other comedy series, but I can’t say for certain.
I really wanted to get in touch with Anna and hear from her, especially as the viral TikToks made her the target (pun intended) of both silly gossip and serious, horrendous bullying. I found her personal social media pages and emails, and I tried messaging her in various ways. I even reached out to her close friends in her comedy troupe, but no one has gotten back to me all week.
There are all kinds of legitimate life reasons for why someone may not have seen your emails, and phone calls, and DMs...and more DMs……..but I think I sent a cumulative dozen. So not hearing back, or hearing about what may have happened at Target, does not quiet my suspicions, let’s just put it that way.
Curiously, a day after her videos went viral, Ashley posted several TikToks thanking people for now making her a pseudo-famous person online, and people began asking her about updates to the Target saga. In a response to a comment, Ashley wrote that she’d read “that the girl does pranks.”
The comments about Anna’s Facebook comedy page, asserting that the whole scene was a charade, have been buried by upvoted commentary like “This is Wal-Mart activities.” So perhaps people don’t know, or perhaps they don’t care. Ashley may have sincerely stumbled upon the scene at Target that day and started recording. And that is spectacular luck on her end— it doesn’t take away the excitement she experienced, and the thrill and opportunity of then garnering thousands of new followers. And if Anna successfully pulled off a stunt that then went viral by the spontaneity of human existence, even luckier for her. Marketing companies huddle and strategize for weeks to gain this kind of viral attention.
However, for all of our records, it would be good to know. So, Anna, if you’re reading this, I’d still love to chat. Please get in touch!
Until next time,