Lauren Whitney was having a tough week when she went to her local Walmart to get diapers for her 18-month-old daughter, Rosalynd. But when she got to the aisle, there was nothing left in Rosalynd's size.
It was just too much for the mom of four from Washington, Utah.
"So basically I've just had like a really rough week," Whitney told TODAY Parents. "I was demoted at work for a really stupid reason, and it just kinda created stress. I went to a few other stores first. I ended up at Walmart and I was just looking for diapers...and there was just none in her size anywhere. And I think it was the straw that broke the camel's back for the week. And my emotions kind of bubbled up and I was like, 'Somebody needs to hear this.'"
Whitney took to TikTok and recorded a video of herself crying, a video that has since gone viral with more than 5 million views.
Whitney, who works part-time at a movie theater to help subsidize her family's income, said that for her family, she doesn't have the opportunity to bulk buy like some.
"There's so many people out there like myself that we, we don't get paid very much," she explained, adding that her husband is ex-military and a full-time student. "So, you know, we're low income families and so it's hard for us to be able to just go out and buy a large amount of things at one time."
"When we do have the funds to be able to go purchase things and it's not there for us to buy, it's very frustrating," Whitney said. "So those people that are buying in bulk or that are clearing the shelves make it harder for those of us that either are low income or only get paid every two weeks or even once a month."
Panic buying refers to the phenomenon when consumers buy unusually large amounts of a product in anticipation of, or after, a disaster or perceived disaster, or in anticipation of a large price increase or shortage.
On Sunday, the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association urged shoppers to restrain themselves from hoarding, asking that if they didn't need an item in the next two weeks to leave it for someone else who does.
“Hoarding and stockpiling creates unnecessary gaps between the time that someone who truly needs a product can find it back on retailers' shelves," they said in a statement. "This is particularly important for our most vulnerable neighbors — the elderly and those who are struggling with other health issues."
Since going viral, Whitney says she has received lots of positive comments in her inbox, but there have been many haters as well.
"We've had a lot of negative ones," she explained. "People saying things like, 'Don't have children if you can't afford them' or 'why are you crying? This is nothing to cry about.'"
Whitney says many people also have asked how they can help, even offering to send money or diapers.
"I had to respond to every single one saying, 'Hey, we're fine. We're okay. I was able to find some,' but it's so wonderful to see all the positive comments."
Whitney said she's "really hoping that other people can just stop and think that there are other families out there that might also need things."
"I just hope that people can understand that by purchasing 10 or 20 boxes at a time, it leaves nothing for those of us that can't do that."