If you've been on the Internet for longer than a few minutes, you'll know just how hurtful some people can be when they're hiding behind a screen. This is something that Melissa Blake, a disabled journalist and blogger, knows all too well. Blake, who writes about everything from relationships to her disability, is exposed to Internet trolls on a daily basis.
One of Blake's columns was recently mentioned on a conservative YouTube channel. Unsurprisingly, the appearance came with plenty of hate from commenters. Blake took to Twitter to share screenshots of some of the meanest comments. She wrote on Twitter: "Reminder that this is what it's like to be a disabled woman writer on the internet AND #ThisIsAmerica in 2019."
And yes, it is pretty ironic that none of the people making these mean comments are brave enough to use their actual faces as their profile pictures. But Blake doesn't seem to be letting the trolls get to her.
About a month after Blake posted those screenshots, she took to Twitter again to show that she hadn't been deterred. "During the last round of trollgate," she wrote in a tweet, "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."
Blake's tweet included three beautiful selfies, which quickly went viral. As of the time of writing, Blake's selfies have picked up over 22,000 retweets and 250,000 likes. Alongside those were thousands of positive comments encouraging Blake to ignore the trolls and keep killing it.
"You're beautiful and even more important, kind, smart, inspiring, funny and talented," one user wrote. "Anyone who calls you ugly has a stain on their soul. Shame on them."
While another Twitter user added: "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 spotted the mean comments by the tolls, she wrote on her blog: "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."
Evidently, there's far more accepting and loving people out there than the bad. One Twitter user explained: "The only ugly people are the ones that are trying to put you down. Ignore the haters, I can see you’re rising above which is good to see. Post as many selfies as you like."
While another added: "Proud of you. You continue to defy those who try to silence you, and you do so with a positive attitude. So much love Melissa."
Others loved Blake's attitude towards the haters: "That’s brilliant Melissa, quite inspirational in fact. I personally love your face and your attitude."