On Wednesday, the whistle-blower Chelsea Manning took her first steps of freedom after serving seven years in military prison for disclosing secret information to WikiLeaks. And naturally, she shared each step of the way on her newly-minted (and verified) Instagram account, @xychelsea87.
Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was sentenced to a staggering 35-years in prison back in 2010—twice as long as the second-longest leak case sentence in history. But in one of his final acts as president, Barack Obama commuted the rest of her term, allowing the now-29-year-old to be freed 28 years early. However, she still served a significant amount of time behind bars, and Instagram wasn’t even invented when she was first arrested.
Needless to say, Manning picked up the social media thing fast—and in the best way.
Her first post, captioned “First steps of freedom!!” pictures her feet in a fresh pair of black Converse, which prompted many on social media to share photos of their own Chucks in solidarity. The comments, though varied, also showed an overwhelming amount of support with sentiments like, “We love you!! You are an amazing, brave, beautiful example of a human, & your freedom makes all of us more free. Never stop!!”
Shortly thereafter, Manning posted another photo of a single slice of pepperoni pizza, which she ate on a very civilized-looking tablecloth with a vase full of flowers next to her. “So, im already enjoying my first hot, greasy pizza,” read the caption with a “yum” emoji. In sum, a simple pizza photo has never packed more punch.
Her third photo, posted at the end of Wednesday, was a more celebratory note, featuring a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and three friends to share it with.
Today, Chelsea Manning finally showed her face with the caption, “Okay, so here I am everyone!!” Followed by the hashtag “HelloWorld.” The photo has since received over 5,000 likes in an hour. In it, she wears a deep v-neck polo sweater with a touch of red lipstick. Her smile is slight, but she’s smiling nonetheless.
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