Melissa Blake is a well-known journalist and writer whose articles on relationships and pop culture are widely covered around the world. She was born with a hereditary bone and muscle disease and posts a selfie every day after online trolls said she was “too ugly” to post pictures of herself.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where some people abuse anonymity on the Internet to ridicule and harass others. In Melissa’s case, we made fun of her appearance.
In an article published by Refinery29, Melissa Blake, 39, explained how tweeting selfies, with the hashtag #MyBestSelfie, helped her feel more comfortable in her body as a disabled woman.
She showed a number of the vile comments she received on Twitter.
“The reactions? I’m fat, ugly, and look like a blobvis, a big parade ball, and a potato with a face.”
“For the past year, I’ve been following the same routine every night before falling asleep: I pick up my phone, look at my photos and share a selfie on social media,” she wrote. “I think it has become a kind of ritual – a ritual that has brought me comfort and happiness, and which, without speaking, has taught me many lessons.
For many people, complex or not, it’s not easy to reveal their personal life online. Certainly not for someone like Melissa, who describes her personal experiences as a disabled woman in her work.
Melissa was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a congenital facial and limb disease. She uses a wheelchair and has since undergone 26 operations.
The woman shared on the internet the number of insults she must regularly deal with. Just because people don’t agree with her because she dared to criticize Trump. Some Internet users have told her that she should be banned from posting selfies because she is “too ugly”. A conservative Youtuber also shared her photo in a video, prompting hundreds of people to cruelly mock her appearance.
Melisse explained how these reactions affected her:
“People wonder why I am struggling with self-acceptance regarding my appearance and the concept of ‘beautiful’ in our society. It’s because of these kinds of reactions – reactions that exclude me and consider me unworthy.”
Her tweet went viral and thousands of people praised her for opposing online trolls. As it gained media attention, its Twitter followers grew.
However, she refuses to be a victim of online trolls. Melissa responded with three selfies and the following brave message:
“During the last round of Tollgate, people told me that I should be forbidden to post selfies because I’m too ugly. So I just want to celebrate the occasion with these 3 selfies…”.
She spent the next 365 days sharing selfies, some serious, some more fun. Melissa said she never thought of sharing selfies all year, but began to notice the positive effects.
“With every selfie, I felt more comfortable in my own body and discovered freedom I had never felt before as a disabled woman,” she said. “I grew up feeling (and looking) different from people my age, which really impacted my self-esteem and my self-image.”
Sharing selfies has not always been easy for Melissa, she admits that one of her biggest fears was people’s reaction.
“People with disabilities are outside the norms of beauty and it doesn’t help that the representation of people with disabilities seriously lacks everything from pop culture to politics,” she said. “We see very few people with disabilities in movies and television shows or in executive positions.”
Many other people with disabilities have decided to get started and share their own stories and photos. It’s a great inspiration and it invites Melissa to continue.
“Sometimes I wonder if I should stop posting so many selfies. But then I think about our reality in 2020: People with disabilities have to fight to be seen and heard,” she writes. “These selfies are dedicated to all people with disabilities who continue to fight every day.”
It is easy for some people to behave in a way that is derogatory, insulting, and disrespectful when they can hide behind a keyboard and screen. But Melissa shows what a really brave behavior is and what beauty looks like, inside and out! Share this message if you also agree!