There are a lot of things to love about social media. The trolls who are on a mission to provoke others are not one them. These online bullies who hide behind their screens while posting hateful or offensive comments represent the worst of the web. But guess what? People are onto their tactics. Melissa Blake, a writer born with a genetic bone and muscular disorder, was recently attacked by trolls who said she was too ugly to post selfies. Blake’s incredible response is now a viral tweet, and the internet is rallying behind her.
It all started when the 38-year-old wrote a political op-ed that was shared on social media. Following the article, a YouTuber called her out in a video, and the comment section quickly became full of people attacking Blake’s appearance. One even went as far as to write: “Melissa Blake should be banned from posting pictures of herself.”
These words are incredibly upsetting and enraging, but Blake didn’t let them get her down. Instead, she took to Twitter to post three selfies and an epic caption: “During the last round of trollgate, people said that I should be banned from posting photos of myself because I’m too ugly,” she wrote. “So I’d just like to commemorate the occasion with these 3 selfies…”
During the last round of trollgate, people said that I should be banned from posting photos of myself because I’m too ugly. So I’d just like to commemorate the occasion with these 3 selfies… 📸😉👋🏻 pic.twitter.com/9ZuSYFOtwv
The tweet has since gone viral, with nearly 300,000 likes and 30,000 retweets, as well as an outpouring of support for Blake. “The only ugly people are the ones that are trying to put you down,” one user replied. “Ignore the haters, I can see you’re rising above which is good to see. Post as many selfies as you like.” “Ugly is as ugly does,” said another. “You, on the other hand, are a strong, confident woman with a beautiful smile. Selfie your heart out!”
Since the incident, Blake penned an essay for The Huffington Post about how the experience impacted her. “Indeed, we’re taught that being disfigured is synonymous with ugly,” wrote Blake, who was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome and has undergone 26 surgeries. “I saw it play out in real time in those YouTube comments ― thousands of comments about how I was ugly and disgusting. Some people wonder why I’ve struggled so much with self-acceptance when it comes to how I look and our society’s notion of what ‘beautiful’ is. It’s because of comments like these — comments that dismiss me and deem me unworthy because of my disability.”
Even though Blake reads cruel comments about her all the time, she refuses to let trolls define who she is. “In that one tweet, I owned my beauty,” she says of her viral tweet. “For the first time in my life, I felt worthy and deserving. In less than 280 characters, I found the sense of self-confidence I’d been looking for since those days spent analyzing myself in front of the mirror.”
She ends the post by mentioning hashtag she started, #MyBestSelfie, to encourage others to embrace themselves for who they are. “Consider it my defiant, cheeky message to the world,” Blake writes. “My body will never be perfect, but it’s real. And to me, real is beautiful.”