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Woman With Bone Disorder Shares Selfie Every Day For A Year

by : Emily Brown on : 03 Oct 2020 17:16
Woman With Bone Disorder Shares Selfie Every Day For A YearWoman With Bone Disorder Shares Selfie Every Day For A Yearmelissablake81/Instagram

A woman who was told she was ‘too ugly’ to post photos of herself ignored criticisms and trolls by sharing selfies every day for a year. 

Writer Melissa Blake has Freeman Sheldon syndrome, a rare genetic bone and muscular disorder characterised by joint deformities and abnormalities of the head and face, and she began to be mocked for her appearance after writing an article for CNN in August 2019.

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Following the release of the article, a YouTuber posted her photo and hundreds of people responded with cruel comments calling Melissa names like ‘blobfish’ and ‘whale’. One user said Melissa should ‘banned’ from posting photos of herself because she was ‘too ugly’.

Melissa refused to let the trolls get to her and responded to the comments with a tweet, writing:

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…

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Every day for the last year, Melissa has uploaded a selfie to social media as part of her defiance which also saw her followership increase from 7,500 to 100,000.

She recently reflected on the move in an essay published by Refinery29, in which she described her selfie-posting routine as a ‘ritual’ which has brought her ‘comfort and happiness, not to mention taught [her] plenty of lessons.’

Melissa tracked her selfies with the hashtag #MyBestSelfie and made sure to share a range of photos from the serious to the ‘fun and silly’.

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Alongside the pictures, the 39-year-old addressed topics such as disabilities and how she was feeling on ‘not-so-good days’, while also showing off her love for TV drama The West Wing and photo filters.

Melissa explained:

There was one thing they all had in common: Each selfie truly reflected my personality and who I was. Each was a celebration, and each carried a message.

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The writer explained she got more comfortable in her body with every selfie she posted, and ‘discovered a freedom [she’d] never really felt before as a disabled woman.’

She continued:

With each click of my iPhone, I felt like I was able to have a conversation with my younger self, telling her all the things I wish I had known back when I was a teenager.

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Melissa noted that disability representation is lacking in ‘everything from pop culture to politics’, and recognised that by posting her pictures she was helping not only herself, but also other disabled people who told Melissa they identified with her words and began posting selfies of their own.

The writer described the results of her selfie-taking as ‘glorious’, and explained that the photos can be both ‘revolutionary’ and ‘political’ in 2020.

She commented:

It’s a way of taking back my power and painting a more accurate picture of disability. Because the one we have now? It’s more 1950 than 2020 — full of misconceptions that often only show disabled people as drains on society. On the contrary, we lead full lives and I’m so proud that I was able to show that for an entire year.

Melissa stressed that disabled people ‘have to fight to be seen and heard’, and she expressed her hopes that her selfies would continue to help normalise disabilities and encourage conversations about disability and sexuality or work in the future.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Now, trolls

Credits

Refinery29 and 1 other
  1. Refinery29

    After An Internet Troll Told Me I Was ‘Too Ugly,’ I Spent A Year Posting Selfies

  2. Melissa Blake/Twitter

    @melissablake