Melissa Blake is a disabled journalist and blogger whose credits include Glamour, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more. She writes about relationships, disabilities, lifestyle, and pop culture. She runs her own blog called, So About What I Said. And she's officially done with trolls.
After a recent column of Melissa's was mentioned on a conservative YouTuber's channel, hurtful comments from trolls started pouring in. In early August, Melissa posted screenshots of some of the vile comments she was getting on Twitter, writing, "Reminder that this is what it's like to be a disabled woman writer on the internet AND #ThisIsAmerica in 2019."
Obviously, trolls like this aren't worth the dirt under their fingernails. People on the internet can hide behind cartoon avatars and usernames, but what they are doing is actually hurting a real person. Melissa is insanely strong, so she didn't let them get to her, but bullying like this can have catastrophic consequences.
About a month after these horrible trolls came out of the woodwork, Melissa took to Twitter again to combat their grossness. "During the last round of trollgate," she wrote, "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 three selfies."
Melissa responded with three lovely selfies that show her smiling and living her very full life, which is the best revenge she can get on these basement dwellers. And in doing so, she went completely viral! Melissa's selfie tweet garnered over 19,000 retweets, nearly 235,000 likes, and countless encouraging responses.
One Twitter user pointed out that there's a sign in the background of one of Melissa's selfies that says, "Small decision. BIG impact." Melissa didn't even do that on purpose, but it's true! Melissa's little decision to post some selfies and stand up to trolls had so much more of an impact than she thought it would.
When Melissa first got wind of the trolls insulting her, she did what any courageous writer would do: She wrote some powerful words about it. "The dig at my journalism credentials doesn't bother me, but you know what?? 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," she continued. "It's because of comments like these — comments that dismiss me and deem me unworthy. This is just one more example of the type of ableism that people with disabilities face every day and it's something I'm constantly trying to change."
Luckily, when Melissa and her selfies went viral, it was because of the loving, accepting people out there who understand that beauty isn't defined by one narrow set of traits.
"You are one of the most dedicated, relentless, talented writers I know," fellow writer Amy Freeman wrote in response to Melissa. "Seeing your beautiful face on my screen brightens my day."
The joke is truly on the trolls now because after Melissa went viral, she gained thousands of Twitter followers and, according to a tweet, woke up to "an interview request from the BBC and an email from a book publisher!!" Melissa Blake is strong enough to know that trolls are wrong, that she is beautiful, and that her worth and success can't be defined by a few anonymous naysayers. I hope she inspires others to know the same!