DEKALB, Ill. — For years Melissa Blake made her voice heard as a freelance writer, but in the last week she’s become the face of not backing down to bullies.
In August, Blake filed an opinion piece for CNN.com critical of President Trump. After the piece went live it wasn’t her message, but rather her appearance that became the target of scrutiny.
"There were thousands of comments about my appearance," Blake said. "It's really disappointing that people instead of attacking what I write they attack how I look."
The story included a photo of the DeKalb native, who was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome.
After conspiracy promoter and conservative pundit Mark Dice chimed in, calling her an "alleged journalist," she received even more responses.
Blake shot back, but the messages kept coming. So she put that sharp mind to work, deciding to post a few selfies to show she wasn't afraid of bullies.
“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," she wrote.
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... 📸😉👋🏻 pic.twitter.com/9ZuSYFOtwv
— Melissa Blake (@melissablake) September 7, 2019
The tweet has been liked more than 280,000 times, and Blake's following began growing rapidly. She now has over 50,000 followers on Twitter.
"The response I've gotten from my viral tweet it overshadows all of that and it's been so heartwarming, and it really reaffirms my faith in humanity," Blake said.
Among those responses, one person wrote: “this woman shows what is good about the world. What an amazing human being. Love others. Love yourself."
It's an important lesson for anyone about being human, whether online or in real life.
"That has always bothered me that women cannot be strong and decisive and speak their minds. So that was really important for me," Blake said.
Blake is encouraging others to proudly post pictures of themselves as well, tagging them #MyBestSelfie.
In the past few days, she's also been contacted by several literary agencies. Blake is now considering writing a book.