When trolls attacked this fat, gay, black immigrant, Ireland answered perfectly.

On Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, Michelle Marie became the official voice of Ireland — at least on social media — for the duration of a week.

Since 2012, the @Ireland Twitter account has featured a different person behind the handle every week, all of whom have some connection to Ireland or the Irish diaspora.

Each person has their own unique voice and perspective to offer to the account's 40,000-plus followers. And Michelle Marie, who normally tweets as @ChocCurvesModel, is certainly no exception:


Marie is a single mother and plus-sized model, as well as an immigrant from the U.K. She's also black, and, as she later disclosed, gay.

Unfortunately, there are still a handful of people in this world who can't fathom the idea that a fat, gay, black woman could live in Ireland, let alone be its voice for a week. And they wanted her to know — calling her "subhuman," saying that Ireland is only for the Irish, and telling her to leave the country and so on and so forth — in that monstrous way that only anonymous people on the internet are capable.

This is just a sampling of the hate that was out there; much of it was reported and deleted, although not before they were captured in screengrab perpetuity.

Sadly, this part shouldn't be surprising — though there is a certain irony to the fact that, according to their profiles, most of these racist trolls actually lived in the United States and thus almost certainly have no say in what does or does not constitute "Irish-ness."

Did I mention that was all just on her first day as the voice of @Ireland?

But as a dedicated champion of body positivity and self-love, Marie was determined to use the @Ireland platform to make her voice heard.

And it wasn't limited to racist vitriol, although those probably made up the bulk of it. There were also plenty of insults about her weight — which, sadly, is a frequent occurrence for plus-sized people. Fortunately, Marie was a pro and deftly shut down the haters:

Despite her relentless positivity, those few nasty voices still got to her— an experience familiar to anyone who's ever dealt with bullying. By the end of her first day as @Ireland, Marie had had enough.

I understood the @Ireland account to be a platform for all people who have an Irish connection of a grá [love] for the country/culture. [...] Many non-natives, non-residents, and persons of colour have gone before me on the account so I felt welcome to apply.

I expected trolls, and backlash, and criticism. But today I have experienced racism, sexism, fatphobia, and homophobia to a degree I have never known. I have had 8hrs of nonstop hate thrown at me. I am hurt, shocked, and appalled.

"I have become accustomed to a certain level of trolling online as it comes with the territory, but I have never known anything like what happened this week — a relentless barrage of extreme hatred and prejudice," Marie told Upworthy later that same week.

Perhaps even more inspiring were the droves of people who came to her defense and offered their support for her voice, and her continued presence on the Emerald Isle.

("Craic" is an Irish word that basically means "a good time.")

Even Patricia Arquette came to her defense — yes, the Patricia Arquette!

Sure, Marie might not be the stereotypical poster child for the Emerald Isle. But, that's exactly why it's refreshing to have a voice like hers represent the country as part of a modern, global society.

Luckily, there were plenty of Irish citizens who seemed to agree.

Her legion of supporters were evidence not only of the Irish reputation for hospitality, but also that diversity and acceptance are both growing across the world.

Thanks to that support, Marie returned to the @Ireland Twitter account on Tuesday with a renewed energy.

And she continued to share her inspirational insights throughout the rest of the week.

"I have been really touched and taken aback by the level of kindness and support I have received," she said.

"The U.K. tends to turn a blind eye to the less favourable things that happen, whereas Ireland has stood up and spoken up against it. I feel Ireland is ready to embrace change and diversity."

Of course, it wasn't all heavy social commentary. She also chatted with followers about their favorite places across the Emerald Isle and her appreciation for the Irish language and more personal subjects like body positivity, motherhood, and adoption.

As terrible as it was to watch someone like Marie suffer through so much hatred, the response that followed was a powerful reminder of why it matters that we continue hearing voices like hers.

After her whirlwind week as the voice of Ireland, Marie went back to tweeting and blogging about body positivity as well as helping to organize Ireland's first-ever Body Pride festival — proving that heroes come in all colors, shapes, and sizes.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less