This mom is on a mission to turn a mean meme into an opportunity to create awareness about living with Pfeiffer syndrome.
Remember Texas mom AliceAnn Meyer? She wrote a stirring blog in 2014 entitled "He's Not Scary, He's a Little Boy." The viral essay detailed what her son Jameson's life is like with Pfeiffer syndrome, which makes him look different from other kids because of the way his bones grow in his skull. Meyer's piece deeply touched many people, including me, because of its urgent plea for her son to be accepted. Sadly, it also inspired cruelty. Meyer was horrified to discover a photo of Jameson she used in her blog had seemingly been turned into a mean meme.
"It's basically making fun of the way he looks. The first time I saw it I just kind of looked at it and said 'It's not even funny.' Someone actually took the time to sit down and [create] it and I don't understand that. I was shocked, for sure," she told ABC News.
The mom-of-three immediately reported the misuse of the photo to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. To their credit, the social media sites removed the image, but it has since been reposted without permission.
She details what she went through to try to limit the scope of the photo's presence online:
"Exactly one week ago I spent my Saturday night fighting an individual to remove my son's photo from his Facebook page, where it had been liked 5,000 times and shared nearly 3,000. It was no easy feat and took 100's, maybe even 1,000's of reports being submitted, an army of people fighting with me. So, to everyone that 'LOL'd,' shared, and posted that meme, let me start by introducing you to the child you find so funny. His name is Jameson. He is very real, and he was born with Pfeiffer syndrome."
Now, Meyer, who wrote a subsequent blog post called "This Is My Son Jameson, And No, You May Not Use His Photo," figures she may as well use the meme for good, explaining, "His face was everywhere and I thought it was a great opportunity to say 'This is my son and this is who he is and this is what he has. I can't stop people from doing horrible things, but if his face is out there, I may as well make it for good rather than bad."
Meyer wants people to know Jameson is just like any other 4-year-old in every other way accept for his appearance. She says she will continue to advocate for him no matter what.
On some level, I understand what this mom is going through. I have shared personal things about my three kids in my blogs, and for some reason, people—who can't possibly even be people—write the most heinous comments about me, how I parent, and even about my children!
I've come to terms with the fact that I'll be targeted, and I'm an adult so I can handle it. But when anyone says something mean about my kids, I just can't understand it. These are children. Get a grip!
Still, I won't be bullied into clamming up and acting like a robot on the other side of this computer screen. I like writing about my family and our lives. I love sharing a part of myself with my readers. But attack my girls, and don't be surprised if I go all mama bear!
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.