Jennifer Knapp Wilkinson was shopping in Walmart in 2011 for her family’s groceries when an unfortunate accident made her into a viral, cruel meme. Jennifer was reaching for a case of soft drink for her husband, when she tipped over and fell out of her motorised scooter.
The moment was captured on film by some young girls but Jennifer “thought nothing of it cause [sic] I am use to hearing people make fun of me or saying snide remarks. It was nothing new,” she explained in her story on Quora.
The mother suffers from a spinal condition called spondylolisthesis, which is when one of your vertebra slips out of place and squashes the nerve that runs between your spine. This causes muscle fatigue and weakness in the legs, and “in my case, the longer I stand the more numb and weak my legs become. I have been known to fall because of this condition,” she wrote. Sadly, Jennifer was feeling particularly weak the day this photo was taken, and decided to use the scooter to help her with the grocery shopping.
Although it might seem harmless to laugh at memes and photos on the internet, Jennifer wants everyone to know that “it is never just harmless fun to laugh at someone. You know nothing about these people or the struggles they face every day.”
The 39-year-old also suffers from “major depressive disorder, PTSD, and avoidant personality disorder” which has made her use eating and food to cope with her mental illness. However she isn’t excusing obesity, and is “not asking people to pity or feel sorry for me.”
“My main point is I did not choose to be photographed at a low point in my life. The only thing I am glad about is it did not capture my face,” Jennifer explains. “People assume I am fat because I am lazy is false. Or they assume I am fat because I want to be on disability.”
Sadly fat-shaming is a chronic problem within our society, and the internet provides an easy and anonymous way to do so. Jennifer’s touching story is a good reminder to be kind to everyone.