Melissa Blake is a woman with a genetic bone disorder called Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome. She always had the dream to be a model but was told it would never be a reality because of her disability. Years later, she got to model at New York Fashion Week.
Melissa Blake is a journalist who covers stories on disabilities, relationships, lifestyle, and pop culture. Blake was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder.
The journalist has had about 26 surgeries on her knees, hands, hips, and spine. Despite the challenges of her condition, Blake always dreamed of being a model. She said she grew up reading all the famous glossy magazines but never saw people who looked like her.
However, when Blake was a teenager, someone shut down her dreams and told her she would never become a model because she was disabled. The negative remarks stayed with her for many years.
The discouragement was more than a way of shutting down her dreams. It was also heartbreaking that it perpetuated the narrowed thinking of disabled people not having a place in the fashion and beauty industry.
Blake did not know that she would soon become one of the people who helped change the narrative of disabled people in the fashion industry. Twenty years later, the 42-year-old saw her dream become a reality.
She walked the runway during New York Fashion Week and modeled the new adaptive clothing line for Zappos. Since Blake was modeling during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, she got to be part of a big transitional moment in the world.
Although the journalist agreed that the pandemic was a vulnerable time for disabled people, leaving them with limited access to health care and other necessities, she emphasized that a reformation of beauty standards was long awaited. So she was proud to be one of the faces of this change in the fashion world.
The journalist was thrilled about the moment and seeing the fashion industry become more inclusive. Looking back at how beauty magazines only represented a certain type of woman, she was pleased to see non-profit organizations like Runway of Dreams started by Mindy Scheier.
Scheier’s son was born with muscular dystrophy. When he got older, he wanted to wear clothes similar to people his age but realized that he struggled with the buttons and zips on them.
It became clear that there was not enough clothing that was functional and fashionable for disabled people. Therefore, Scheier’s organization uses events like New York Fashion Week to promote inclusive clothing. Although Blake looks up to people like Scheier, she also uses her Blog, “So About What I Said…” to speak about the experience of finding love as a person living with disabilities.
She has shared her insights with other trusted sites like Psychology Today. The title is also about allowing people to go back and explain or rectify wrong things that could have been said at the wrong time.
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
Blake is constantly standing up to online bullies. In 2019, the blogger shared three pictures. In the caption, she said “During the last round of trollgate, people said that I should be banned from posting photos of myself because I’m too ugly,” to spite the negative commenters.
Her tweet went viral, and three years later, Blake looked back at it and commemorated it with another clap back, “Because of you, I blossomed instead of withered, took up space instead of hid. I’m still standing…and rolling!” she wrote.
🎉 HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY VIRAL TWEET 🎉— Melissa Blake (@melissablake) September 8, 2021
Can’t believe my viral tweet turned two years old today! The most unexpected moment and I’d like to thank the trolls…
Because of you, I blossomed instead of withered, took up space instead of hid. I’m still standing…and rolling! 📸❤️✨ pic.twitter.com/V15uWIWMOT
Regardless of what people say about her, Blake is determined to create inclusive spaces through her various platforms and award-winning blog.
Here is a story about a woman who felt ugly but grew up to be a model with a 100lb foot.