Last year, Melissa Blake wrote an anti-Trump op-ed piece for CNN and became a subject of cruel online trolling. People called her names like “blobfish” and “whale,” and others went as far as saying that she should be banned from posting photos of herself because she’s too ugly.

The 39-old journalist from Illinois, who suffers from a rare disorder called Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, which is characterized by joint deformities and abnormalities of the head and face, responded in the most badass way possible. Melissa started sharing selfies on social media and has kept it up every single day for a year now.

“I suppose it’s become something of a ritual—one that has brought me comfort and happiness, not to mention taught me plenty of lessons,” she wrote in an essay for Refinery29. Throughout the 366 days sharing selfies, from serious to playful, but all very genuine, Melissa became the biggest inspiration and voice for the disabled community. Not only has she defied trolls, she has also proven that her selfies are her story.

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Melissa is a 39-year-old writer and disability activist with the rare Freeman-Sheldon syndrome

Image credits: melissablake81

But back in 2019, she wrote an op-ed against Trump and received cruel backlash

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Trolls wouldn’t stop mocking Melissa’s appearance and calling her names

Melissa responded by making an inspirational statement

Image credits: melissablake81

Image credits: melissablake81

In an essay Melissa wrote about her year spent posting selfies, she said that it became quite a ritual. Every night before falling asleep, she’d scroll through her selfie gallery and pick one pic to upload on her social media.

Every selfie was tracked with the hashtag #MyBestSelfie and was accompanied by a text where Melissa would talk about her disability, daily routine, ups and downs, and whatever came to her mind that day.

“With each selfie, I felt more comfortable in my own body and discovered a freedom I’d never really felt before as a disabled woman.”

And sharing a selfie every single day for a year that she dedicated to all the disabled peopleout there

Image credits: melissablake81

Image credits: melissablake

Melissa became one of the greatest inspirators on social media, proving nothing is impossible

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For a woman like Melissa who grew up feeling and looking different from people her age, each click of her iPhone 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.”

Her #MyBestSelfie initiative became a 366-day journey into self-healing. “So much of our culture is shaped and dictated by beauty standards—what is considered beautiful, who is considered beautiful, even the fact that beauty is valued in the first place.”

Image credits: melissablake81

Image credits: melissablake81

Image credits: melissablake81

Because our society tells disabled people that they fall out of lines of beauty standards, it was extremely hard for Melissa. But she soon realized she wasn’t the only one.

“I may have started this year of selfies for myself, but I soon realized that these selfies weren’t just about me. Other disabled people told me they identified with my words, too, and they began posting selfies of their own,” she wrote.

Image credits: melissablake81

Image credits: melissablake81

Image credits: melissablake81

Melissa managed to gather the disabled community to take “our rightful place at society’s table.” The woman dedicated her selfies to every disabled person who continues to fight their way into our societies.

“We can do little things, like sharing our experiences through photos, and still have a huge impact on the world around us. My selfies are my story,” she concluded in a beautiful piece.

Image credits: melissablake81

Throughout the 366 days of self-discovery, Melissa has been actively posting on social media, wrote essays, and even modeled for New York Fashion Week

Image credits: melissablake81

Image credits: melissablake81

Image credits: melissablake81

Image credits: melissablake81

And this is what people had to say