Dannie McMillan turned body shaming into something positive

By Julie Mazziotta
Updated March 17, 2016 03:35 PM

Dannie “Dee” McMillan was in study hall when someone texted her about a Twitter account a classmate had made called “Dee is a Fat Whale.”

“The moment I got out of that classroom, I just started crying,” Dee told KCEN. “I was just really upset. I think I got angry after a little bit. But, at first I was just so embarrassed.”

“It’s sickening. You hate to hear that. You hate to see your kids in pain or troubled,” her dad, Trey, said.

The high school junior from Lampasas, Texas says that she immediately went home and locked herself in her room, crying for hours. She didn’t go back to school for three days, as she watched the account continually gain followers.

Looking for someone to talk to, Dee reached out to curvy model Laura Lee on Facebook, and the two started exchanging messages.

“I jokingly told her, ‘Part of me wants to cry all day, and, the other part of me wants to get a t-shirt with a whale on it and wear it to school to show that they can’t get to me,’ ” Dee recalled. “And she was like, ‘oh, we should.’ ”

So Dee designed a shirt saying, “Dee the Fat Whale Saves the Whales,” with all proceeds going to the Save the Whales Foundation, which helps endangered whales.

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Dee set a goal of selling just 50 shirts, but more than triple that have sold so far. She also set up a GoFundMe page for additional donations for the Foundation, which is already up to over $3,300.

“This project means so much to me because while I can help make a difference in the oceans I can also set an example for other victims of bullying,” Dee writes on the page. “I can take someone’s hate and use it to spread love. Overcoming things like this is not easy but people need to know that it is possible and they have support.”

And she has a new friend in Lee, who spread the word via her own Facebook page.

“She’s like my size, and she’s so beautiful,” Dee says of Lee, to KCEN. “It’s just so inspiring because you can see that like, I can be that too. Just because I’m big doesn’t mean I can’t be beautiful.”