How Do You Measure Up to These Two Courageous Women? For All Survivors.

Sarah Thomas moments after leaving the sea, courtesy of BBC.

All hail the amazing Sarah Thomas. If exactly who Sarah is has somehow passed you by let me enlighten you. Sarah Thomas is a remarkable woman, aged 37, who has just achieved an astonishing feat of endurance for anyone ever, not just the first woman. She is the first person to swim across the English Channel 4 times, non stop! (OK she was allowed 10 minutes each end but let’s not quibble about that.) And she couldn’t even go the shortest route because of the tides and currents, see below. 130 miles of swimming. And she had treatment for breast cancer just last year. It is such a feat of endurance. If I had been anywhere close to Folkstone in Kent I would have been there cheering her home. Utterly amazing. Four people have swum the channel three times but no one has ever done it 4 times. Sarah dedicated her swim ‘to all the survivors out there’. I am in awe.

Here is how the BBC covered it, which also includes a video where, with huge understatement, she describes herself as a ‘bit tired’.

Melissa Blake

Another courageous woman crossed my radar this month. Her name is Melissa Blake and she works as a freelance journalist, specialising in disability. Melissa has endured multiple operations to try and straighten out her joints, hands and knees and to treat her scoliosis which has caused her spine to curve. It has also had an impact on her appearance. She looks ‘different’. And different people get targeted…

Melissa is a fan of Twitter which is where I first encountered her. In a week which has seen British personalities being encouraged not to engage with trolls (see here), it seems timely to share her story.

Most women are used to people (including women as well as men) feeling entitled to comment publicly on how they look. Whole magazines are dedicated to this. Melissa has had more than her fair share of spiteful, hateful comments on social media. She was fond of posting selfies on Twitter but daring to be different and not crawl away under a rock did not seem to make her many friends, at least initially.

“There were comments from people calling me ‘ugly’ and saying ‘she looks like a parade balloon,'” Melissa told the BBC.

The final straw came when a particularly nasty commenter suggested she should be banned from posting pictures of herself online because of how she looks.

“I thought, well, I’m going to do the opposite and show them that they’re not going to get the better of me.”

In response to people calling her ugly, Melissa, then shared three selfies of herself on Twitter.

One of her selfies Melissa posted on Twitter

 

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Posted on September 17th, 2019 by

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