Melissa Blake has been working as a freelance writer in DeKalb, Illinois. In August 2019, she published an op-ed for CNN.com.
The article included a photo of the author herself, but Melissa never thought her image would get more attention than her message.
Melissa’s op-ed garnered a lot of attention and thousands of comments … but imagine her disappointment and surprise to find that readers had much more to say about her looks than the actual content of her article.
Then a pundit named Mark Dice added to the fuel to the fire by calling her an “alleged journalist.” The commenters became full-fledged trolls, telling her she should be “banned” from posting photos of herself.
Melissa tried to defend herself online, but the nasty comments continued pouring in. She called it her own personal “trollgate.”
Not that it should matter, but what the readers didn’t know (or care to know) is that Melissa was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “Freeman-Sheldon syndrome is a condition that primarily affects the face, hands, and feet. People with this disorder have a distinctive facial appearance including a small mouth … with pursed lips, giving the appearance of a ‘whistling face.'”
But instead of letting the trolls win, Melissa returned to her social media accounts to spread a message of positivity — and she gained an entirely new type of attention.
Footage provided by WGNTV Chicago
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