TikToker’s Lost Shoe Returned by Stranger

  • An influencer said she didn’t realize her Valentino sandal slipped off on a day out in Lebanon.
  • She made a post about it on Instagram which was seen by a local man who found and returned it.
  • TikTok is now rooting for the influencer and the charming stranger to get together.

A TikTok influencer shared the story of how she lost her slipper on a trip to Lebanon, and through the power of social media, saw it returned to her by a stranger who also threw a surprise kind gesture into the mix.

Jess Tawil, who is based between New Jersey and New York according to her Instagram bio, and who has 2.3 million TikTok followers, typically posts lifestyle content about living with paraplegia. She has previously shared the story about how she got into a car accident eight years ago which has meant she is now paralyzed from the waist down, and posts videos showing viewers how she lives her daily life and what kind of support and medical care she receives.

In a TikTok post on June 17, Tawil said she was visiting Beirut, Lebanon, but took a day trip to the nearby city of Baalbek, and lost a shoe. She explained that due to her paralysis, she cannot feel her legs or her shoes, so her slipper fell off while her uncle was carrying her through a tourist area that was less wheelchair accessible, and she did not notice at the time.

“I’m angry at myself because I wasn’t looking down the whole time,” she said.

The influencer said that after she got home, her mom suggested she make a post about the missing shoe on her Instagram story, hoping that someone in the area would see it and help her to find it. Tawil, who has 178,000 Instagram followers, said a lot of her followers are from Arab countries, so she thought it could be a feasible option.

Tawil filmed a short clip of her one remaining shoe, a pink sandal by Valentino, and within minutes of posting it on her story, a man messaged her, she said. The influencer said he asked her to tell him the rough location where she thought she lost the slipper, so he could go there and look for it. After she sent him a short video showing her location that day, she waited, and soon enough, received a video call from the stranger, who had found her shoe.

In her TikTok, Tawil included a clip of her speaking to the man on the video call in Arabic, adding English subtitles, as she said, “Social media is so amazing!”

“There isn’t a single soul on this planet that can tell me that I’m not Cinderella,” she said in English at the end of the video, before explaining that she was going to meet up with the man later in the week to retrieve her lost shoe.

The video received 1.4 million views, and commenters said they were invested in the story and wanted to hear about how her meeting with the stranger would go. Others interpreted his gesture of going out to find her slipper as romantic, comparing him to the character of Prince Charming in the “Cinderella” movie and saying they hope the two might fall in love upon seeing each other in real life.

“This is a romance novel waiting to happen!!!” one user wrote.

On June 29, Tawil posted a follow-up video, which included clips of her meeting the stranger face-to-face. The influencer said he insisted on carrying her from her car to a wheelchair near the place where she lost the shoe originally, so he could place it back onto her foot there.

“My prince is here,” the TikToker could be heard saying, in a clip that showed the stranger stooping to put the sandal on her foot.

But the kind gesture did not stop there. According to the TikToker, the stranger had watched a live stream she made on Instagram explaining that her birthday was coming up, so he surprised her with an early birthday cake.

“When I tell you guys I wanted to cry,” she said, in a voiceover over a clip where the cake was presented to her.

Viewers were sent into an excited frenzy by Tawil’s follow-up video, as commenters said they were now rooting even harder for the influencer to make a romantic connection with the man.

“If you don’t marry that man I will!” one user commented.

A representative for Tawil told Insider that the influencer is still in contact with the man, but currently has plans to see him again. “They have developed a very close friendship with an even closer bond as of right now,” they said.

It’s not the first time a TikToker’s story about an encounter with a mysterious stranger has gone viral and sparked huge rumors of romance.

Earlier this month, a TikToker called Anna Molinari shared the story of how a message in a bottle that she threw into the sea as a teenager was found by a young fisherman, who contacted her on social media and eventually became her online friend. Molinari took TikTok along with her on a holiday that saw her reunite with the young man eight years later, sparking a huge reaction as commenters rooted for a real-life romance to spring up between the pair.

Molinari told Insider that despite the reaction from TikTok, she had no idea where the relationship would go.

“It’s very much open-ended. There’s no end by any means right now,” she said. For now, “it’s a reminder that these amazingly cool coincidences and surprises can still happen in life.”

For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.

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