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Photographer Fires Back At People Criticizing Couple’s ‘Handmaid’s Tale’-Themed Wedding Photo

The Handmaid's Tale/HULU/YouTube

You guys ever have one of those things that seems like a good idea at first, but then you stop and think about it and realize:

“Nope. This is bad. Let’s skip it.”

People on Twitter are kind of wishing that maybe this couple and their photographers had stopped to rethink these wedding photos. Photography company Van Daele & Russell shot a wedding for a couple in Ontario, Canada. The couple happened to be fans of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Now, if you haven’t seen the show, we’ll give you a brief synopsis. It covers the story of a society where fertile women are taken into slavery as “handmaids” – essentially breeding slaves for the elite.

The handmaids are mercilessly tortured if they “misbehave” by resisting this state-sponsored rape, attempt to escape, speak out against their treatment, etc. This punishment easily escalated up to and including being physically attacked, disfigured and murdered in a myriad of horrible ways. The society justifies this horrific treatment by claiming it is part of their religious tradition.

Watch the series’ trailer here.

Terrifyingly Familiar. 


So … now that you’re all caught up, let’s get back to this couple who are fans of the show.

They decided that since they were shooting in the same city the hit Hulu show is shot in that they should take the opportunity to visit a few key locations. OK fine.

Then they decided they should take wedding photos at some of those locations. Odd, but Ontario is a beautiful area and some of the locales make for stunning backdrops.

Then the photographer decided to get creative and photoshop a bunch of handmaids into some of the images. One in particular was taken at a location called “The Hanging Wall” – a wall used to display the bodies of recently executed citizens.

Execution is the new romantic? 

Van Daele & Russell/Getty Images

The photographers posted the image on social media and faced some serious backlash.

People questioned whether they had ever even seen the show and, if so, what would possess them to add handmaids to the images as if they were a bridal party – particularly at such a brutal location.

The photographers eventually removed the photo from Facebook, but the damage was done. 


The couple and photographers took a chance to respond to the uproar … and their reaction was “interesting.” According to the photographers, creating internet backlash was the whole point.

They, along with the couple, claim that they want the images to wake people up to the ways that they contribute to oppression. Also, criticizing them makes you just like Gilead apparently?

Here is a part of their oddly-aggressive statement: 

“To All Who Are Upset By This Image:”

“We actually totally agree! Mission: Accomplished. Everyone is talking about this issue now, rather than binging on a television series and then not doing ANYTHING about what they’re SO worked up over until the next season comes out in the spring.”

“What’s sad is that the oppression and hatred, the division, fear and breakdown of HUMANITY & COMPASSION is being perpetuated in every one of these comments. Take a step back and consider you may not actually know the facts, either – that this image was CREATED and put out by a pair of “Gender Traitors” who are no strangers to many of the subplots of oppression, violence and inequality that run through Margaret’s brilliant work.”

“What’s sad is that everyone is REACTING exactly as expected — just like in Gilead — and missing the opportunity to think for themselves, to educate themselves and become ENGAGED ACTIVISTS instead of simply keyboard warriors.”


They go on to further slam the viewer: 

“There is no more “us” – only division and hatred, and no more curiosity to learn, to help, to actively become engaged in correcting humanity’s breakdown instead of instantly ATTACKING. Congrats for adding to that today! WHY exactly are you offended? Have you asked yourself? And what are you doing about it IN THE REAL WORLD?”

And finally:

“And don’t forget – if this had been a happy couple surrounded by superheroes like Batman and Superman, you wouldn’t even have stopped scrolling to comment. June – along with every fighting Handmaid or human in the midst of struggle and oppression – is the ultimate superhero.”

Twitter is 100% not buying it. 


Like, even Mara Wilson was confused.


Does the photographer’s defense sound legitimate to you? Are you feeling more “woke” and inspired to do something “in the real world” now that you’ve seen the image?


Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale is available here.

Listen to the first season of George Takei’s podcast, ‘Oh Myyy Pod! where we explore the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.

Be sure to subscribe here and never miss an episode.


Written by Erica Diaz

Erica is the consummate cool-kid. She’s so cool that she’s been talked about in magazines, on blogs and on the radio after losing her left eye because of a piece of glitter. She is still actively mourning the passing of Prince and hopes to one day do an all-iguana remake of Graffiti Bridge since iguanas are plentiful near her home in South Florida. She has yet to find one that can really nail the “ahhhyayayeaheaheah” that Tevin Campbell does in Round and Round, and everyone knows the music is the important part of any Prince film. She’s a mother, singer, writer and (if the internet is to be believed - which we all know it is) a Nigerian socialite mid-ranking member of the Illuminati. She prides herself on being the most popular one-eyed rock star under 5 ft tall in pretty much any room she walks into.