When Liz Krueger, 31, got dressed for a wedding reception a few weeks ago, she made sure to run her outfit by a friend. Krueger, a fitness coach based in Minneapolis, was invited to the reception with her old college roommate, whose plus-one backed out at the last minute. While getting ready, Krueger texted her friend to get advice on what to wear.
“I sent her four options of mine and she was like, ‘Wear the pink or the tan and peach dress,’” Krueger says. “So I decided I will wear the one I hadn’t worn in a while, so I just picked [the tan and peach dress], and I put it on.”
Before the reception, Krueger did some things around the house and even met up with friends for drinks. Everyone commented on how nice she looked, she says, and no one said anything about her dress being in poor taste.
“My husband is the first person to tell me, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t wear that,’” Krueger says. “And a different friend came over and she saw me before the wedding and said, ‘Oh you look really nice.’ She would tell me if she thought I looked inappropriate, so there wasn’t much thought of it.”
But when Krueger got to the reception, some other women attending the celebration quickly targeted her because of her appearance.
“I was just standing at a cocktail table drinking a coffee and my friend was on the dance floor with some of her friends dancing,” she says. “Then, I felt somebody come up and slap my butt really hard, and I turned around in shock because I didn’t know anybody at this wedding.”
Krueger turned around to see a girl standing behind her, who told her that she was dared by her girlfriends to slap Krueger’s butt. “[She said], ‘You’re a target,’ and I looked back to where she was looking and there was a group of three women laughing,” she says.
Krueger says the women all came over to her and carried on a somewhat “condescending conversation,” and one woman even spilled a beer down her arm without apologizing. “It was just really rude,” Krueger says. “I told them, ‘You’re really lucky I’m not easily offended.’”
When her friend came back from the dance floor, she was shocked to learn what happened to Krueger. Krueger called her husband to pick her up, but while she waited the women kept approaching her, telling her to “get over it” and “get on the dance floor.” “It was very bizarre and very uncomfortable,” she says. “And I’ve never been in a situation where I felt the need to remove myself to have a good time.” She left the wedding promptly with her friend once her husband arrived.
The next day, Krueger still didn’t feel good about what had happened. She has a big social media following, and she decided to share a photo of her in the dress she wore to the reception and also her story of being bullied. She wrote at the end of her post that no “grown women’s comments/glares could bring me down as a wedding guest.”
The photo quickly went viral, and a friend invited her on a local radio talk show to share her experience. While she received a lot of support on her own Instagram, the radio station’s article started drawing hateful comments on her appearance. It baffled her.
“I just didn’t understand that the attention got put towards the dress and not the actions of the women and that was really frustrating for me,” Krueger says. “Through my fitness, I’m all about empowering women and making them feel good.”
The backlash inspired Krueger to start her own kindness movement called #KruegerKindness, a challenge where she wants women to go out of their way each day to lift up other women. She asked her fans on Instagram to join, writing, “If you want to join me in this movement, share your stories on social media with #KruegerKindness and let’s kill all the mean girls with kindness.” Now, she’s reaching out to other organizations with a similar mission to plan events. She hopes all the attention her story has attracted can fuel the #KruegerKindness movement.
“I’m just trying to get as connected as I can with other women who are trying to do good,” she says. “I want to focus on the positive and not all the negative stuff that’s been attracted from this post.”