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.

More
Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

truth
True
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

Keep Reading Show less
Innovation