This week, the internet has been aflutter over the story of Mimi Black, a Scottish woman who took herself on a date after being stood up and uploaded the ensuing lovely day to Snapchat. At first glance, it's the kind of "revenge on a rude date" tale that lends itself well to going viral, but there's far more to the story than a single tweet can capture — and, in fact, the big picture is actually incredibly important.
Black runs a mental health blog, 100 Days of Mimi, chronicling her struggle with bipolar disorder. "I decided to become a mental health blogger after I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at 19 and I wanted to keep a mood diary whilst raising awareness for Bipolar Disorder in young people, so I documented such on the blog," she tells Bustle over email.
According to her blog, she spent much of June dealing with a depressive episode, but in mid-July, she traveled to Glasgow to meet someone at a bar. "Long story short, he didn’t show up," she wrote on 100 Days of Mimi. After explaining what happened to her friends, she decided to treat herself to an evening out in Glasgow anyway.
"Even the idea of travelling alone earlier had made me feel kind of nauseous, but as I was sitting on the street on my own realizing my fate – I guess I felt somewhat calm. ... As nervous as I felt sitting in a strange bar in Glasgow on my own, it felt oddly empowering," she wrote. Black recorded her evening on Snapchat and sent it to her friends, and on July 15, she posted the story online.
"A boy stood me up so I decided to have the best date with myself, and it was great," she tweeted.
The tweet quickly went viral, receiving more than 16,000 likes and almost 6,000 retweets. Although many applauded her actions, some zeroed in on Black's appearance or claimed that she was attention-seeking. The trolls became so overwhelming that she took to her blog to discuss her day in Glasgow as well as the aftermath.
"People speculate whether or not I’ve had plastic surgery, commented that I wear too much makeup or pondered whether I’m promoting lingerie from Ann Summers," she wrote on 100 Days of Mimi. "What’s most upsetting is those who comment that I must be desperate to get married, a prostitute, a complete airhead or someone who just wants to so desperately be famous."
Misogynist trolls are virtually everywhere online; just a few days ago, actress and star of the Ghostbusters remake Leslie Jones left Twitter after being subject to a torrent of racist and sexist abuse from users of the social network. Research has shown that gender-based harassment is so common online that it's practically the norm, as Black discovered when the Internet turned its attention her way. In addition to the trolls, however, she took issue with the way the media presented her story as a "sassy middle finger" to the man who stood her up. Rather than making it about a man, she explained on 100 Days of Mimi, her date was about her slow recovery from mental illness.
"This story wasn’t about a boy or bitterness, it was about feeling good about yourself even when the circumstances can make you feel pretty low. It took me so much courage to get out of the place that I was in," she wrote on the blog.
Later, she described the difficulty of dating as someone who has a mental illness. "What part of the conversation at dinner do I talk about my Bipolar Disorder?" she wrote. "How do I mention I’ve just got over a serious episode in my illness? Do I mention anything? I was almost relieved these conversations didn’t have to take place, safe in the security of the company of myself. Doing things alone, like I’ve wanted to do for months."
She ended the post with a parting message for the trolls. "I felt brave when I ordered a drink, as silly as that sounds to you, and I felt poised and attractive in my new lingerie," she wrote. "I felt like a real girl, not the ill girl. So please don’t take my positivity away. I felt confident, sexy, sassy and happy – and I’d never want any other woman to feel any differently."
Check out 100 Days of Mimi to read more about Black's struggle with bipolar disorder and the aftermath of going viral. It's too important to miss.
Images courtesy of Aymie Black (4)