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Dannie "Dee" McMillan was in study hall when she received a text that would bring many of us to tears.

The Texas teen learned that another student had created a Twitter account calling her a "fat whale." The account featured an unflattering photo of her with an image of a whale over her face.

Funny? Not at all. Painful? Definitely.


Photo courtesy of Dannie McMillan, used with permission.

"At first I had no clue," McMillan explained of the Twitter account mocking her. "It started with weird looks in the hallways and people giggling behind my back. ... It was awful, the shame and embarrassment I felt. I left school right away and went home where I locked myself in my room and cried for hours. I stayed at home watching the [number of followers on the Twitter page] grow for three days."

Hurt by her classmates' cruelty, McMillan messaged Laura Lee, a plus-size model the 16-year-old looks up to, on Facebook.

A photo posted by Laura Lee đź’‹ (@misslauraleej) on


"I jokingly told [Lee] part of me wants to cry all day," McMillan explained to KCEN News of the conversation. "And the other part of me wants to get a T-shirt with a whale on it and wear it to school to show that they can't get to me. And, she was like 'oh, we should.'"

So McMillan did just that ... and she took it up a notch.

McMillan launched a fundraiser selling shirts to benefit the Save the Whales Foundation and got to spite the bullies who wronged her.

Her efforts have garnered more than $6,700 for the nonprofit, an educational initiative that promotes whale preservation.

The shirts read "Dee the Fat Whale Saves the Whales."

Photo courtesy of Dannie McMillan, used with permission.

What's more, McMillan also set up a GoFundMe page that has raised an additional $10,700 toward the nonprofit.

"It has given me a much larger sense of confidence," McMillan told Upworthy about the overwhelming support. "It makes me feel like I am making a difference."

Those shirts are pretty much amazing because McMillan's not only fighting back with a great cause, she's reclaiming the word "fat" while she's at it.

After all, the adjective "fat" shouldn't be an insult, as activist vlogger Meghan Tonjes has explained, "it’s all the things you attach to the word 'fat,'" like lazy, ugly, or unhygienic that are nothing more than inaccurate, degrading stereotypes. Fat is just an adjective, like skinny or tall or short, and to see McMillan take her experience being bullied for her weight and turning it into something that gives "fat" a positive association is an incredibly important message.

One glance at McMillan's fundraiser pages, and it's obvious her actions aren't just helping whales — they're inspiring people too.

Reading through the comments, it's hard not to smile:

Trey McMillan has his daughter's back too. "I just want her to be happy and successful in what she does and be proud of what she does," he told KCEN.

And as far as Lee? She's over the moon. "No joke, I'm a teary mess seeing this fabulous story," the model wrote on Facebook, noting she's beyond thrilled to know the story is making waves.

McMillan is a shining example of how to turn something awful into a beautiful thing.

"I can take someone's hate and use it to spread love," she wrote on her GoFundMe page. "Overcoming things like this is not easy, but people need to know that it is possible and they have support."

You can help support McMillan by purchasing a shirt here or donating to her GoFundMe here.

Former officials from the George W. Bush administration and campaign launched a super PAC in support of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, declaring they "knew it was time to take a stand." They claim that they seek to unite and mobilize a community that is historically Republican voters. The group, consisting of at least 200 former officials, aides and Cabinet secretaries, formed "43 Alumni for Biden" to block President Donald Trump from winning a second term. They claim on their website that there have been "far too many days filled with chaos emanating from the highest levels of government" and that "political differences may remain among us, but we look forward to a time when civil, honest and robust policy discussions are the order of the day."

When I read about "43 Alumni for Biden," it gave me a great sense of hope. Even though I didn't vote for Biden and I'm not a huge fan, I am liberal and think it's important to accept anyone willing to admit that they are disappointed in their political party. It takes someone with real strength to admit the damage that has been done to our nation by Trump's presidency. It takes even more strength to say they voted for Trump, they were wrong and now they want to fix it.

My optimism has less to do with what side they are on and much more to do with the act of reaching across the isle. Almost all politicians have their heels dug on issues that align with their respective political party. The only thing worse than someone trying to prove that they are always right is someone putting all their energy into proving that their counterpart is consistently wrong.

What is even more counterproductive is the person who waggles the "I told you so" finger in the face of someone who has the audacity to change their mind and actually agree with them. Why anyone would shame someone for having the courage to admit they were wrong is a concept that befuddles me to this day. Yet it happens more often than not. The fear of being ridiculed plays a huge role in our inability to be vulnerable. We have an opportunity to come together as a country. As long as we all grow the hell up.

When a politician changes their stance on an issue whether it is because of new information or just a change of heart—especially after reflecting on things and keeping an open mind, they are labeled as a flip flopper. Somehow it seems like they have more credibility if they can say that they believed something all along because it makes them look smart. Ask yourself, who do you trust more: someone who always says they are right or someone who can utter the words "That's a really good point?" We need to take it upon ourselves to be the bigger person.

Remember all that progress you made in your relationship when you screamed at your partner with guns a blazing telling them how wrong they were. Remember when they responded by telling you that you had excellent points and they would try and do better from now on. Oh, wait. You probably can't because that never happens. But I could be wrong (see what I did there).

Now imagine a time when you might have made a mistake, and your partner speaks to you with tenderness and understanding with the inevitable dash of disappointment because, lets face it, you deserve it. I think we would all opt for the undesirable cherry as opposed to a full on sundae of shame.

We are imperfect emotional beings and protect our psyche like a dog learning the boundaries of a newly installed invisible electric fence. Once our pride gets zapped, we are less likely to venture out as far, and in fact, will most likely recoil deep within the boundaries of our comfort zone.

The people involved with 43 Alumni for Biden have been able to reassess the state of the Republican party to which they held such loyalty. Just because they are supporting a Democrat in Joe Biden, doesn't mean they need to turn their back on their traditional Republican views. This is about more than just taking a step back and putting aside any blind loyalty one might have to their respective political party. It is unclear what percentage of the organization voted for Donald Trump in 2016. I am going to guess not very many punched a chad for Hillary Clinton.

When you vote for someone, you have put your trust in them. That leads to defending any perceived missteps they may have had because you advocated and believed in them. The more controversy there is, the more you feel the need to justify your vote and defend them even more. Then you find yourself defending the fact that you are defending them and believe the negative news coverage is a lie or a smear campaign.

I did it with both Bill and Hillary Clinton in the midst of everything that was being said about them. Then I stopped and thought about what my thought process would be if it was George W. Bush that was being accused of the exact same things. It was the moment I realized I wasn't being honest with myself. The diagnosis? We protect our ego on subconscious and primal level and fear the vulnerability that comes with admitting that we were misguided. Once we are able to face that, we can really get to the core of why we don't budge.

We are going to need all the communication skills we can muster up because if you think the months were bizarre leading up to the 2016 election, I am pretty sure Kanye West has something special planned for us. Buckle your seatbelt and open your minds because just when you thought 2020 couldn't possibly have any surprises, things are about to get even weirder.