So, after finding a few instances of my face (and scarred, bikini-clad body) spread across the internet, I decided to log onto Imgur, where this whole inferno originally began, to see if I could talk to people about the bizarre day I’d been having. And hey! I had a message.
Holy. Cow. The Daily Mail? Contacting me?
But wait a second. What did he say? What exactly ran on Seventeen.com?
Nearly 2,000 shares? Where was I during all of this? I had literally no idea that any of this was happening, and it felt like an invasion of privacy in so many ways, but I had to keep reminding myself that I put the picture out there to begin with. I made it publicly available, and they took advantage of that, which I guess I can’t blame them for. It’s just a really bizarre feeling. It’s also weird that I was completely blind to and left out of my sudden “fame.” I guess it felt a little bit like a betrayal. Like, hey, guys, wasn’t anyone going to tell me you’re all profiting off my bikini pic?
When it came down to it, it was obvious that this was not a controlled burn. It was going to catch and grow whether I liked it or not, so I decided that at least The Daily Mail, though by no means my favorite publication, would get an actual story out of me. (If you can call “girl goes to beach in beach-appropriate attire” a story.) All the other posts were just chopped up versions of my 140-characters-or-less Imgur comments replying to questions people had about my surgeries, etc. Since The Daily Mail was nice enough to actually ask first, it would be them who would get the goods. (And by “goods,” I mean “information probably no one is interested in, but I’m going to tell them anyway, dang it.”)
So I sat down and decided what I wanted to say when I could actually make my voice heard rather than just have my picture ogled, and sent it off to the Daily Mail editors.
I talked about my heart complications that caused my four separate open-heart surgeries, but I also talked about the confidence that took me far too long to develop and made sure to mention the hospital that saved my life so many times by name: Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
In fact, from then on, I decided I would make a point to mention that amazing place on every post where my photo was shared, and encourage people to give anything they could so that more more families could see their children get the same top-notch care I was so fortunate for and am so thankful to have received.
And of course our very own PDXX Collective got a shout-out in the Daily Mail article, and they shared the story too.
So now here I am with a not-so-incredibly-flattering photo of myself splashed across the internet. My friends all saw it. Like alllll of them. The ones in Arkansas, the ones in New York, the ones in California, the ones in England, the ones in Hong Kong — it was everywhere. Shoot, my mom even saw it, and she mostly doesn’t know how to internet at all. (Sorry, Mom. You have other great skills.)
So what realization did all this hullabaloo lead to? The third and final installment has the answer.