In May 2017, Jessica McDaniels was capturing a friend’s proposal for Facebook when someone snapped a photo of the happy moment from a different angle, with McDaniels standing in the background. At the time, she had no idea how miserable that picture would make her.
After the photo was shared on social media, it was edited to zoom in on McDaniel’s face and then cropped. That’s when it began circulating online — and the comments people made about it were incredibly cruel and hateful. Some compared her to a donkey. Others got even worse.
McDaniels has been bullied her entire life because of her teeth. They didn’t start coming in until she was 12 years old, and when they did, they came in crooked with a severe overbite.
“I didn’t care about them talking about me – I just wanted to protect my kids,” said McDaniels, a 32-year-old single mother and hairdresser.
Eventually, one of McDaniels former high school classmates, Krystal Starks, noticed the online taunting and couldn’t ignore it.
“For a person doing something innocent, for them to be caught off-guard and taken advantage of like this is horrible,” Starks said. “For what? For likes on Facebook?”
Starks wanted to make a difference for McDaniels, so she launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for her old classmate’s oral surgery.
“My classmate’s picture has gone viral and I find this to be very ridiculous,” Starks wrote on GoFundMe. “I think that it is sad that most of the people that are reposting and doing this cyberbullying are adults. JESSICA has struggled with this issue and has been teased for most of life about her teeth. Instead of criticizing and tearing Jessica down, let’s support her dream of making her smile perfect. As citizens, we need to band together and turn this negativity into positivity.”
So far, the account has almost reached its goal of $10,000. But even better was the news that an oral surgeon named Dr. Maryann Udy offered to fix McDaniels’ smile…for free. The process took time and multiple steps, but after her first visit, she looked incredible — and nearly unrecognizable.
The money raised from her GoFundMe account will go to paying off some of her debt along with other household costs. She also plans on starting a nonprofit to help others like her.