Typically, advice columns are full of letters about difficult emotional or moral situations. That’s why the letters are answered and published — because editors assume that everyone will benefit in some way or another from the proffered advice. However, occasionally, publications receive letters asking for advice which defy every possible social and ethical norm and veer directly into the Twilight Zone of Terrible Humans.
A monstrous mom recently penned a letter to Slate‘s weekly advice column, “Dear Prudence,” posing an almost hilariously villainous “dilemma”: she didn’t want her daughter’s best friend to be a bridesmaid in her daughter’s wedding, because the girl walked with a limp and it would “ruin” the aesthetics of the ceremony.
YES. SOMEONE IS ACTUALLY ADMITTING TO THIS BELIEF.
The letter reads:
My 27-year-old daughter and her best friend, Katie, have been best friends since they were 4. Katie practically grew up in our house and is like a daughter to me. My daughter recently got engaged to her fiancé and announced that Katie would be the maid of honor (Katie’s boyfriend is also a good friend of my future son-in-law). The problem is that Katie walks with a pretty severe limp due to a birth defect (not an underlying medical issue). She has no problem wearing high heels and has already been fitted for the dress, but I still think it will look unsightly if she’s in the wedding procession limping ahead of my daughter. I mentioned this to my daughter and suggested that maybe Katie could take video or hand out programs (while sitting) so she doesn’t ruin the aesthetic aspect of the wedding. My daughter is no longer speaking to me (we were never that close), but this is her big wedding and I want it to be perfect. All of the other bridesmaids will look gorgeous walking down the aisle with my daughter. Is it wrong to have her friend sit out?
This woman must have had to take a break from making poison apples in order to write this letter, because she sounds like an evil stepmother.
To her credit, Mallory Ortberg (AKA the “Prudence” behind “Dear Prudence”) attempted to respond as best she could, but … there really is no advising someone without a soul:
I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around this letter. I encourage you to reread it and to ask yourself that time-honored question, “Do I sound like a villain in a Reese Witherspoon movie?” You are, presumably, sympathetic to your own situation and are invested in making sure that you come across as reasonable and as caring as possible, and yet you have written a letter indicting yourself at every turn. This girl is “like a daughter” to you, and yet you want to shove her to the side of your other daughter’s wedding just because she walks with a limp. Your daughter’s wedding will be perfect with Katie as a full and honored member of the bridal party. A limp is not a fly in the ointment; it’s a part of Katie’s life. It is not only wrong to have asked your daughter to consider excluding her best friend over this—it is ableist, and cruel, and it speaks to a massive failure of empathy, compassion, and grace on your part. You must and should apologize to your daughter immediately, and I encourage you to profoundly reconsider the orientation of your heart.
In this situation, it’s difficult to gauge the best response, particularly when the person in question seems so far removed from a compassionate or empathetic reality. Also, it’s fairly obvious that this mother is focused more on the wedding itself than her daughter’s happiness, considering she shrugs off the fact that her daughter is no longer speaking to her with a blithe “We were never that close.”
It wasn’t long before Twitter got wind of this unbelievable letter.
People were, understandably, flabbergasted:
I’m not sure what to say, other than offering a few simple rules of thumb for being a good person:
- If it isn’t your wedding, it is not about your happiness.
- Being ableist and shaming someone for a disability is inexcusable and probably indicates that you are a heartless vampire. (Although even vampires would probably have better manners than that.)
- If everyone is telling you that you’re the asshole, you’re probably being the asshole.
Here’s hoping that this bride keeps Katie and gets rid of her mother instead.