This post has been updated.

Scary. Insecure. Jealous psychopath.

These are just three of the many insults that have been hurled at Victoria Higgins, a 22-year-old senior at Missouri State University, this week.

No, as far as we can tell, she did not threaten or physically harm anyone. She merely wrote an essay about prom-dress envy.

Appearing on the website called the Odyssey, Higgins’s essay declares: You May Have Worn the Prom Dress With Him, But I Get to Wear the Wedding Dress. Subhead: You had him in high school, but I get him for the rest of my life.

At first read, the essay might seem strange: Higgins, who is engaged, writes about how she’s jealous that her fiance Brandon’s high school girlfriend got to go to school dances with him. “You got to go to games and support him. It kills me that I couldn’t be there for him because I know I would have actually been there wholeheartpedly.”

Meanwhile, Higgins merely has the rest of her life to spend with this boy/man.

As the essay went viral this past week, Twitter erupted with many ideas of what kind of woman Higgins is. The 400-word essay leaves far more questions than answers. So we got Higgins on the phone to ask what she meant to convey.

First off, she told us Odyssey is a site where college students write about things their immediate campus communities are interested in or talking about, a place for #relatable content. It was never meant for a wider audience, Higgins says.

That is the magic of the Internet: For better or worse, anything can go viral.

“I was completely misunderstood,” Higgins says, noting the essay was not meant as an open letter or a direct missive to her husband-to-be’s prom date, to whom she bears no ill will. Rather, Higgins says she had been talking with some friends about how they wished they had been by their now-husbands’ or boyfriends’ sides when they went through big life events. “One of my friends, her husband’s father passed away before they had gotten together. She was just talking about how she would have loved to have been able to support him through that,” Higgins says.

The essay, Higgins says, was an attempt to channel that common human desire of wanting more time with our loved ones. The prom date was not a literal focal point, but a proxy — one she thought anyone could relate to. Her goal, Higgins says, was to tell her fellow college students to focus on the future they have with their significant others rather than the past.

Of course, to those who do not know Higgins and were not present for the conversation that sparked the column, it is easy for the essay to read as pure ire. “When it’s shared to my personal community, they understand where I’m coming from because they know me. The outside community has no idea where I’m coming from,” Higgins says.

That includes Shelby Hicks, Brandon’s high school girlfriend, who was surprised to see herself mentioned in Higgins’s column. “Me and Brandon come from a small town [in Missouri] where everybody knew that that article pertained to me,” Hicks said over the phone on Sunday. Hicks says Higgins reached out by Facebook on Friday to tell her that the column wasn’t about her directly and that she was just writing generically. Hicks says Brandon actually broke up with her at their senior prom, which hurt at the time but she wishes the couple well. “I don’t care that she has the wedding dress,” Hicks says. “They’re perfect for each other.”

Higgins says she has experienced intense cyberbullying, noting she has received nasty messages on Facebook and Twitter, telling her “that if I’m such a pathetic, jealous person, I should kill myself. People are calling me a psychopath.” She seems to be doing okay, saying the experience has “just really opened my eyes at what happens when people take one person’s words and ride off with it.”

Higgins and her fiance Brandon plan to tie the knot next month. We hope Hicks is listening to Jana Kramer’s “I Got the Boy” on repeat — and getting a laugh out of this one.


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