Woman in Walmart Meme Fights Back Against Online Trolls Who Humiliated Her
While the internet can make small miracles happen by inspiring us to mobilize and help others, it has also made it much easier to mock and humiliate people. Luckily for 39-year-old Jennifer Knapp Wilkinson, it also gives us the tools to fight back.
Knapp Wilkinson, who suffers from obesity and a back condition, was riding a mobility scooter in a Walmart several years ago. While she was trying to pick up a case of soda, the scooter tipped over in the aisle. A passerby thought it would be funny to snap a picture of the woman, and share it online. The photo made its way onto websites like Reddit, where commentators mocked and shamed her for her weight.
Knapp Wilkinson eventually saw the photo, but it was only recently that she decided to publicly respond to it, in an article on Quora. Now a mother of two, she addresses the stubborn belief that obese people are overweight because they are lazy.
Knapp Wilkinson explains that she suffers from spondylolisthesis, a condition that affects the spine and can cause pain and weakness in the legs. On the day the photograph was taken, she was experiencing significant pain.
“The reason I am sharing this is because people think it is funny to laugh at people with disabilities,” she writes. “You can not see my disabilities but they are there and they are REAL.”
The woman also shares that she suffers from mental illness, which has contributed to her obesity: “I have major depressive disorder, PTSD, and avoidant personality disorder. I have experienced several cases of emotional trauma that lead to these illnesses. So I ended up using food to cope with my mental illnesses.”
Links have indeed been established between depression and obesity. But Knapp Wilkinson writes that she did not choose to speak out in order to elicit pity or sympathy from readers. Rather, she just wanted to remind everyone that “fat people are people too.”
“What I want is compassion, understanding, and respect as a fellow human being. I am a person — please treat me like one!” she pleads.
Hopefully more people will keep these words in mind before posting humiliating photos or making snap judgments in the future.