After a body-shaming incident, a humble man became the toast of LA

They say the best revenge is living well. A humble and soft-spoken man from Liverpool, England became a living example this principle when he became world famous for all the wrong — and then the right — reasons.

A bully had seen him dancing at a party and then anonymously posted pictures of him online with the caption, "Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing."

While some readers followed suit and took the opportunity to mock the man for his size, many others came to his defense. And what happened next turned the entire incident completely on its head. This man was about to become known all over the world as "Dancing Man" and a movement was about to be born. 

imgur/Frozen Badger

When Twitter-user Cassandra Fairbanks saw the photos, she was heartbroken to see an innocent partygoer's spirit broken by a thoughtless bully. She was determined to correct the public body-shaming. But calling out the author of the post wasn't going to cut it. After all, a savvy social media user knows not to "feed the troll." Instead, she wanted to do something positive for the "Dancing Man." She and some like-minded bloggers and activists started a campaign not only to find him, but to throw him a party — a party where everyone of every size could feel free to throw down on the dance floor without being judged or mocked.

This was the tweet that started it all: 

Thousands responded to her tweet and began spreading the word. In record time, the next morning — not Pacific Time, but Greenwich Mean Time! — the Dancing Man had been found. His name? Sean O'Brien. Sean was in for a shock when a friend called him at 7:30am to fill him in on his new found celebrity. "I was told, that unbeknown to myself, I was all over social media and I needed to get on line to see what was happening. Not being a member of this phenomenon [my friend] sent me a link so that I could access and view what was being said, " Sean recounted. "On opening I was shocked to see pictures of myself on a night out in two differing states of emotion. Where this was, I still cannot fully recall, as I often go out to enjoy myself only to hear the ridicule of others mocking me due to my size. At times I let this wash over me, but there are times, and this was obviously one, where comments from strangers hit a chord, and the insecurities that I am sure everyone suffers to some degree, take over."

At first, Sean felt those insecurities welling up as he read some of the negative comments that had been posted. But then he saw all the people fighting in his corner and he started to perk up. Little did he know, his celebrity status was about to explode further...  

Twitter user Max Taucer was the first to identify the Dancing Man. Cassandra's invitation to him would soon be on its way.  

So much positive energy was suddenly flowing his way, Sean decided to step forward and accept the invitation. Before he knew it, he was the proud owner of his own Twitter handle:

Sean described what happened next as "the most moving experience of my 47 years on this planet." Once he had confirmed he would be there, the girls' party planning swept into a frenzy. There was the venue to secure, lights, entertainment, guest lists, media, accommodation, transport... the list went on and on! A gofundme account was set up to pay for the party, which quickly raised $40,000. Because everyone who heard about the party's purpose wanted to donate their services for the event, the planning team decided that all of the proceeds would go to fund non-profit organizations that run anti-bullying programs. At that point, the troll-free app developer güdly donated an additional $30,000 towards the project.

This is what the party looked like.

The event became much bigger than simply righting the wrong that had been done to Sean. Attended by over a thousand supporters — including numerous celebrities who were happy to support the message — the party brought needed attention to the topic of bullying and body-shaming. Not only was substantial support raised to combat bullying, an awareness campaign called the Dance Free Movement was founded to continue the party's spirit and mission across the world.

No one deserves to be made fun of because of their appearance. Sean received amazing support from the entire internet community after a few brave champions stepped forward to right the injustice that he had suffered. Sean is happy to report that he is still living large, in the best sense of that expression. Score one for kindness — let's see more of this!

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