Trolled For Her Looks, She Fired Back With Cheerful Selfies
After Illinois freelance writer Melissa Blake wrote an anti-Trump op-ed piece for CNN last month, critics fired back with comments about her looks, calling her fat, referring to her as “it,” and comparing her to a potato and a blobfish.
Blake, who has a disability due to the genetic bone and muscular disorder Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, responded with a tweet so cheerfully defiant that the internet swooned.
“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 …”
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More than 275,000 people have liked her tweet, with her new fans calling her a goddess, a bad (expletive) and a powerful woman. One issued a “new super-hero alert,” and another offered six (emoji) trophies with a fiery “Work it girl! YOU IZ FAB.”
Reached by email, Blake, who lives in DeKalb, said the response was “beyond anything I could have imagined — and quite overwhelming.”
“I posted the tweet on Saturday night and didn’t expect this huge response at all,” she said. “But I’m so glad that it’s resonating with people and to have something so positive come out of those nasty, negative comments is such a joy!”
Blake, who graduated from Northern Illinois University with a journalism degree in 2005, writes about disability, relationships and pop culture on her blog, “So About What I Said” (Tagline: “Smart is the new sexy, awkward is the new cool, flawed is the new beautiful.”) Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour and Cosmopolitan, according to her online biography.
As interest in her tweet grew, she offered some background on the online abuse she’s encountered, including copies of offensive messages from some of her trolls:
In a follow-up blog post, Blake wrote, “I’m getting so tired of people (read: men) thinking it’s OK to insult a woman’s appearance. Yes, my disability makes me look different. Trust me, I know that. I’ve known that my entire life.
“And 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.”
Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 was among those who shared her tweet, calling her a hero.
By early this week, it was clear that Blake had a hit on her hands; she tweeted about waking up to 26,000 Twitter followers, an email from a book publisher and an interview request from BBC.
But Blake, once described by a friend as a “down-home Carrie Bradshaw,” seemed to be taking the attention in stride.
© 2019 Chicago Tribune
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC