Dannie “Dee” McMillan was a junior in high school in Lampasas, Texas when the bullying started.
While she describes the atmosphere at school as “just high school drama,” everything changed when she discovered that a fellow student had created a fake Twitter account called "Dee's a fat whale" that ridiculed her and featured a profile picture of a whale photoshopped over her face.
She was understandably devastated, but Dannie turned the tables on her bullies in a brilliant and original way: She fundraised off of them. The teen started selling T-shirts that mocked the Twitter account and then took it one step further by having all proceeds benefit the Save the Whales Foundation.
“The T-shirt idea started because I wanted to wear a whale shirt to spite my tormentors, but it quickly became something much more positive,” Dannie tells mom.me. “It ended up being about promoting body positivity, raising awareness for cyber-bullying and earning money to protect whales.”
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 follows grow for three days.
On her fundraising page, Dannie talks about the pain she felt when she discovered the Twitter account. “At first I had no clue. It started with weird looks in the hallways and people giggling behind my back,” she writes.
“Then my friends started sending me screenshots of the page so I would know. 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 follows grow for three days.”
We were curious (and hopeful) if her tormentors had heard of her clever comeback to them, and what they thought of it. “Yes they did,” Dannie says. “At first they voiced that they thought it was dumb but quickly ate their words as the campaign picked up attention.”
The 16-year-old has had an overwhelmingly positive response to her campaign and has been covered by media outlets like Upworthy and the New York Daily News. When the Twitter incident first occurred, Dannie used Facebook to contact one of her idols—plus-size model Laura Lee—to ask for advice. Lee offered her support and encouraged the teen to use her T-shirt idea to fight back at the haters.
So far the campaign has raised over $6,740 and a GoFundMe page supporting the same cause has raised over $11,000, surpassing her goal of $3,000. It’s probably safe to say that Dannie has gotten the last word on her bullies.
We’re so impressed and inspired with how Dannie took a bad situation and turned it into something wonderful—not only for her, but to help others, too. We asked her what advice she could give to other kids who are being bullied. "Most victims of bullying don't think they have as much support in their friends and family as they really do," she told us. "So victims need to look for that support and family needs to offer it. It so important to know that you aren't alone."
If you'd like to buy a T-shirt and donate to Dannie's cause, you can do so here.
Photographs by: Dannie McMillan