- Kimberly Pereira filmed herself trying on a red dress her fiancé bought her on TikTok.
- To his surprise, this led to an outpouring of hate online as people thought he was cheating.
- The couple told Insider that their ordeal — which is not unique — was emotionally damaging.
Kimberly Pereira had been engaged to her fiancé Dario Lazic for 10 months when he surprised her with a gift: a short red sleeveless dress from an online store called White Fox.
Lazic, 27, told Insider he bought the dress as a postpartum gift for Pereira, 24, who gave birth to the couple’s first child four months earlier. “I wanted to help her feel sexy and motivate her,” he said.
Pereira loved the giveaway and filmed herself trying it on, posting the video to her TikTok account, which has 10,000 followers, on January 4. Lazic could be seen offering a suggestion on how she should style her hair with the outfit, something he often does when they’re dating, the couple, who are based in North Carolina, told Insider.
Within hours, Pereira’s video went viral and received 4.4 million views. At first, she didn’t understand why, as she posted it “for fun” and didn’t think it would get much attention. When she looked at the comments section, she started to piece things together, she told Insider.
To Pereira’s amazement, people were flooding his comments section with hateful remarks about Lazic, who they were convinced was trying to emulate the look of a popular Instagram model with his suggestions in the video – it quickly went viral. escalated as strangers began spreading wild and false rumors about their relationship.
It’s not the first time an interaction between a couple has thrust them into the viral spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The people at the center of such firestorms often have to deal with thousands of hateful comments and reactions, which can harm their well-being and mental health.
Pereira and Lazic faced an onslaught of judgment and speculation after their video went viral
In Pereira’s comments section, a number of users tagged an account belonging to Sam Rayner, a model with 322,000 TikTok followers and 944,000 Instagram followers. Rayner wore the same red dress in several older posts on his account, and commenters suggested that the hairstyle Lazic asked his fiancee to wear resembled Rayner’s in the posts.
This led users to suggest that Lazic was trying to “recreate” the model’s look because he thought she was attractive.
“It would break my heart to think that he saw and memorized another girl’s exact look and was so unforgettable that he tries to transform me into her,” said a comment under Pereira’s video. , with 18,000 likes.
Users started piecing together and dubbing Pereira’s video with pairing theories, and soon commenters were spreading unfounded rumors about Lazic, saying he follows Rayner on TikTok and has a “fantasy” of dating an Instagram model and wants to “cheat” on Pereira.
Lazic told Insider that the rumors about him are entirely untrue. He said he had no idea who Rayner was when people teased her under the post, but when he checked his account he realized she was one of the models wearing the dress on the White Fox website, where he bought it.
Although he was inspired by the photo on the website to suggest how Pereira should style his hair, he didn’t because he was interested in the model, he said, adding that he didn’t have an Instagram account and didn’t follow the model on TikTok.
“At first it was funny. With the first 10 or 20 comments, I was like, ‘Why are people freaking out?’ If you go to the website, she’s literally the first model to wear the dress, it’s quite simple,” he told Insider. “But once I got thousands of comments, I thought, ‘OK, this is getting out of hand.'”
Pereira and Lazic said they were “absolutely shocked” by how people were jumping to conclusions based on what was supposed to be an “innocent” post.
On January 12 – eight days after the original post – Lazic filmed himself explaining that the rumors were false in a video he posted on Pereira’s TikTok account, which seemed to resonate: the response to the video was positive and a lot of speculation started to die, but they were still in shock from what they went through.
The couple believe their ordeal points to a culture of mistrust that is prevalent on social media
Pereira and Lazic aren’t the first couple to face charges over their relationship based on a social media post. In November, Insider spoke with students Meagan Glesmann and Matthew Boyle who faced a flurry of judgment online when Glesmann posted a video about Boyle being surprised at college.
Commentators suggested Boyle looked “guilty” in the clip and speculated he was cheating on Glesmann. They compared the clip to a similar TikTok that went wildly viral in September 2021, where a man encountering a surprise visit from his girlfriend faced numerous accusations of loyalty and quickly became known by the nickname “couch guy”. because of where he was sitting in the video.
Pereira and Lazic believe that younger social media users are becoming increasingly suspicious of others, leading to these types of speculation-based pilings around someone’s behavior.
“This culture that thinks ‘everyone is cheating on everyone’, where there’s no fundamental loyalty or trust, I think it’s really driven by social media,” Lazic said.
“It’s sad because the image this generation has is that if someone does something nice for you, there’s always an ulterior motive to what that person does,” Pereira added.
Both Pereira and Lazic said they suffered emotional damage as a result of the intense accusations and suspicion they faced.
Reflecting on the experience of being dubbed “the girl in the red dress” by TikTok viewers following her video, Pereira said becoming a main character and figurehead in online drama was emotionally confusing.
“If I’m being really honest, at first it’s exciting because you see your point of view increase. But then the hate starts to come in and you realize there are two realities to this,” he said. she said, adding, “We were lucky to get through this, but I can only imagine what it would be like for someone who has to go through this alone.”
Lazic told Insider that he previously thought it should be easy to ignore negative comments online, but this experience made him realize “that when thousands of people say things about you and say things like: “I can’t believe you had a baby with that disgusting man, it touches you. I think it would affect any human being.
For more stories like this, check out Insider’s Digital Culture team coverage here.