In a world filled with corruption, lies, racism, hypocrisy, hate and cover ups, we are constantly being conditioned to expect the worst from each other, even if we’re not likely to admit it.
We are getting bombarded on a daily basis with countless distractions from media platforms that feed us false body image representations to keep us depressed, and in the position of buying customers addicted to the consumerism dream. For our only hope to be successful as a civilisation is to upgrade our clothes, our cars, our houses, our faces, our status.
But we don’t need all that. We just need to remember to be human.
Melissa Blake knows how to be human, better than many of us. As a freelance writer, she’s unafraid to ask some big questions.
For example, What if all unfollowed Trump on Twitter?
Born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder, she’s also a disability activist, who fights for the freedom of speech above all.
“As a disabled woman, people ridiculing and mocking my appearance is practically the most predictable thing about social media.”
Who’s defining the rules of modern society? In a democracy, isn’t it all of us? And why should some people be told to stay quiet, while we adore others, even when all they have to say is too often pointless or worse full of hate?
Guided by this strong madonna-whore complex, we love and condemn the women who are frivolous, but we won’t even look at the different ones, let alone listen.
Well, Melissa Blake is done asking for permission to speak.
What makes her such a powerful role model for both the disabled community and the rest of us? A number of things.
The war on TikTok
If you’ve watched the recent documentary called The Social Dilemma, you know that the number of teenagers self-harming and committing suicide has only increased since the launch of social media.
It’s all pranks and games until people get hurt.
It’s all a bit of innocent fun until there are real consequences.
In this case the platform was TikTok.
A brand new game called the New Teacher Challenge encouraged parents to show children their new teacher for the school year ahead. Only parents were using a special TikTok filter that displayed people with disabilities.
What’s the purpose of this, you might ask? I can only think of one — to scare kids (instead of teach them of our differences) and ridicule disabled people.
It’s 2020. We’re more connected than ever, but we’ve chosen leaders who preach hate. Don’t believe me, just watch.
For as long as we listen to bullies, we will be bullies. Parents will continue to educate the future generations that disabled people are ‘freaks’: they’re the odd ones, the scary ones, the weak ones, the silly ones, the ones you avoid.
Melissa Blake may have been one of the victims of the TikTok filter fiasco, but that didn’t stop her from becoming even more comfortable in her own skin.
Guess what? She vouched to raise her voice even louder, so she can tell her story, rather than let online users dictate it for her.
Why is Melissa Blake becoming the next role model?
We need people — men and women — that lead with empathy. Simple as that.
We also need to hear more from people who are different than us and their life stories, because they shape our reality with equal voice.
If we truly believe in freedom of speech, then let us celebrate our different points of view, especially when they teach us something new and lead us towards embracing our own authenticity.
Melissa Blake is becoming the next role model because she is actively teaching us to love ourselves.
Honesty, acceptance and courage go a long way in an unfair match.
If Stephen Hawking accepted his physical paralysis as the paralysis of his mind, we would have never heard of his amazing ideas that reshaped the way we view science today.
Life as we know it can be an unfair battle right from the start. But when we make a conscious choice, we can rise above our circumstances, so that our actions leave an impact for the next generations.
Here’s how Melissa Blake is changing the status quo by simply being herself.
1. A positive spirit that admits bad days
It’s rare to see someone so honest about their vulnerabilities. So embracing. So loving.
Acceptance takes time, but when we reach it, we allow a different force to guide us. A more peaceful force.
It scares the hell of us to see someone who’s so happy and in love with their imperfections, because that could only mean our misery is due to our own inability to love ourselves.
In that sense, Melissa is not only an inspiration, but a teacher whose wisdom must be listened to and understood.
2. A global mission rooted in humanity
The power of Melissa Blake resides in her words. Her fierce spirit comes from a place deep within where talent meets courage.
“We need to teach the next generation that our differences should be celebrated, not feared or mocked.”
Every writer has the ability to change the world as long as they keep on writing from the heart.
Melissa is now in a position to reshape the way we view disabled people — and women too — for the future generations to come.
Our differences can mean so much when we perceive them for what they are: strengths. Our differences give us a unique point of view should we stand firmly behind them.
True collective spirit starts when we embrace our differences and work towards change that will benefit everyone, not just the privileged.
3. A selfie a day that makes the world a more understanding place
Nope, I’m not talking about the Kardashians.
Melissa started a new, body-friendly hashtag #MyBestSelfie that promotes self-love, acceptance and hope.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune following her participation in the New York Fashion Week, Melissa said that representation might be the key to making a difference:
“When you’re a teenager — disabled or not — you deal with issues of self-confidence and self-esteem. If I had seen someone who looked like me, I would have felt really seen.”
When all social media channels are trying to make us look alike, to create aspirations in us to abandon our authentic selves in pursuit of a fake new normal, it’s important to remember that we’re never alone.
The #WomenTalking Takeaway
A year ago, Melissa Blake posted three selfies of her true, authentic self that changed her life forever.
Make up, plastic surgery, denial, chronic depression, self harming thoughts, suicide. This vicious circle proves fatal for too many people today, especially young girls and women.
To be brave today is to post a selfie without makeup and without filters. To look in the mirror and smile at the eyes staring back at you. To love yourself beyond imperfections and the body that your momma gave ya.
Melissa Blake is not fighting just on behalf of people with disabilities, but on behalf of humanity.
We stan with you, Melissa.
If you enjoyed this article, keep an eye on my column Women Talking for more stories on how women are changing the world. 💃