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In the summer of 2019, journalist Melissa Blake penned an op-ed for CNN Opinion. A conservative pundit caught wind of it, mentioning Blake’s work in a YouTube video. What happened next is equal parts a searing view into society, how we collectively view and treat disabled people, and the making of an advocate. After a troll said that Blake should be banned from posting pictures of herself, she took to Twitter and defiantly posted three smiling selfies, all taken during a lovely vacation in the Big Apple:
I wanted desperately to clap back at these vile trolls in a way that would make a statement, not only about how our society views disabilities, but also about the toxicity of our strict and unrealistic beauty standards. Of course I knew that posting those selfies wasn't going to erase the nasty names I'd been called and, the chances were, they would never even see my tweet, but that didn't matter. I wasn't doing it for them; I was doing it for me and every single disabled person who has been bullied before, online and in real life. When people mock how I look, they're not just insulting me. They're insulting all disabled people. We're constantly told that we're repulsive and ugly and not good enough to be seen. This was me pushing back against that toxic, ableist narrative.
For the first time, I felt like I was doing something empowering, taking back my power and changing the story.
Her tweet went viral, attracting worldwide media attention and interviews with the BBC, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, PEOPLE magazine, Good Morning America and E! News.
Now, in her manifesto, Beautiful People, Blake shares her truths about disability, writing about (among other things):
- the language we use to describe disabled people
- ableism, microaggressions, and their pernicious effects
- what it's like to live in a society that not only isn't designed for you, but actively operates to render you invisible
- her struggles with self‑image and self‑acceptance
- the absence of disabled people in popular culture
- why disabled people aren't tragic heroes
- On Sale
- Mar 5, 2024
- Page Count
- 272 pages
- Hachette Go