Sixteen-year-old Dannie "Dee" McMillan was sitting in study hall at Lampasas High School when she received an upsetting text.
One of her friends had sent a screenshot of a fake Twitter profile with the username @fatwhaledee. (The account has since been deleted.)
Upon seeing the text, McMillan wrote, "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."
But then, McMillan contacted her friend-mentor, model Laura Lee, via Facebook, asking for her advice.
"I jokingly told her that part of me wanted to cry and the other part of me wanted a whale shirt to wear to school," McMillan told A Plus.
Lee encouraged McMillan to go for it. She said she could empathize with the high schooler's situation because of her own brushes with bullying.
"My heart broke for her. Then, the light bulb went off and the idea just came out. I told her to research everything, design her T-shirt, and I would back her and promote it all over my social media," Lee told A Plus.
McMillan did just that, designing the custom slogan "Dee the Fat Whale Saves the Whales" on T-shirts anyone can wear with pride.
According to McMillan's GoFundMe page, all the proceeds raised from the T-shirt sales will go to Save the Whales, a nonprofit organization that educates "children and adults about marine mammals, their environment and their preservation."
With the support of over 160 donors, she has already exceeded her $3,000 goal. McMillan has specifically requested that Save the Whales use all the funds from her GoFundMe to help protect endangered whales.
"I've always loved sea animals, but it wasn't a priority until now," McMillan told A Plus.
But McMillan isn't just helping to protect the whales. By using a negative experience to effect positive change, McMillan has become a prime example of self-empowerment in the face of bullying.
"I only hope that victims stand up for themselves, and have their voices heard. They don't need to snoop [sic] down to these bullies' levels, but be heard and take a stand!" Lee said.
McMillan knows from a previous personal experience that that is never the solution. She told A Plus, "After being bullied, I tried to get back at my bullies. The incident is something I deeply regret and have already made right." That's why this time she didn't get mad — she got active.
McMillan is grateful for all the donations and, perhaps more importantly, words of encouragement. "Without everyone's support, this campaign would not exist," she told A Plus.
"The kind words have given me a confidence in my body that I've never had before."
McMillan also encourages witnesses of cyberbullying to "report it immediately to the administration of the page."
"Always show support," McMillan told A Plus. "I promise they need it."
Though still a junior in high school, the budding activist's future already appears bright. "I have a huge itch for traveling and adventure. Experiencing new things is my main goal in life," she said. Making headlines for saving marine life while simultaneously promoting body positivity is certainly a "new thing" for a teenager to experience, so it's safe to say McMillan is well on her way.
Think (Body) Positive is an A Plus original series featuring body positive advocates and thought leaders. Their goal? Encouraging you to love the skin you're in.