Disability blogger: 'Trolls said I was too ugly for selfies, so I hit back'

By Annabel Rackham
Newsbeat reporter

Published
image copyrightMelissa Blake
image captionMelissa Blake has Freeman-Sheldon syndrome - a genetic and muscle disorder

When Melissa Blake shared a blog post she'd written about Donald Trump on social media it went viral.

But most of the thousands of comments she received weren't criticising what she'd written, but how she looked.

Melissa, 38, has the genetic bone and muscle disorder Freeman-Sheldon syndrome - a rare condition that affects the mouth, face, hands and feet.

"There were comments from people calling me 'ugly' and saying 'she looks like a parade balloon,'" Melissa tells Newsbeat.

The final straw came when a particularly nasty commenter suggested she should be banned from posting pictures of herself online because of how she looks.

"I thought, well, I'm going to do the opposite and show them that they're not going to get the better of me."

In response to people calling her ugly, Melissa, who is a freelance journalist and disability blogger, then shared three selfies of herself on Twitter.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Melissa's tweet was met with a positive response online and to date has had over 22,000 retweets and over 256,000 likes.

She says being judged on her appearance during her 14-year-career as a journalist is something she's "come to expect".

"I find this is something a lot of women who put themselves out there face - they are subject to visual attacks."

image copyrightMelissa Blake
image captionMelissa is touched by the support her selfie post has received

Melissa has had over 26 operations to straighten out her joints, hands, knees and treat her scoliosis - a condition where the spine twists and curves to the side.

She says it's been hard at times to ignore the cruel comments she's received.

"I'd be lying if I said they didn't bother me and it's hard not to get down on yourself.

"These people are just sat at home hiding behind their keyboards. I don't think they would say half of what they say on the internet to someone's face."

But whenever she feels down, she looks at everything she has achieved so far.

"What I've overcome helps put things in perspective," she adds.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Melissa also has a message for the trolls who may have insulted her and then seen her viral selfie post.

"I hope my selfies help them see there is a human on the other side of the computer they're insulting.

"I think it just goes back to treating people how you want to be treated. I know that sounds so simple and clichΓ©, but I think it's true."

Advice on how you can get help if you're being bullied can be found here.

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