Four years ago a Walmart shopper snapped this photo of Jennifer Knapp Wilkinson in a precarious situation. Where she might have needed a hand, she instead became featured in a mean-spirited meme that went viral. Then she became the target of fat-shaming online trolls.
Now, she’s speaking out about the humiliating experience. She posted a very personal and honest post on Quora.
“The worst thing about this photo is that people think a fat woman tipped over a cart because she was too lazy to get out of the cart to get the case of soda,” she wrote. “I have a condition in my spine called Spondylolisthesis. The most common symptoms in the legs include a feeling of vague weakness associated with prolonged standing or walking. 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.”
According to the Daily Mail‘s interview with Knapp Wilkinson, she learned about the photo when her sister found it and asked if it was her. The Missouri woman then scrolled through the often vicious comments that made fun of her obesity. She said her parents had the same disease and both underwent surgery in their 30s. She fears her children might be susceptible to getting the spine disease, too.
She says she now uses the photo as a reminder of a low point in her life.
“I was at a very low point in my mental health. I also was experiencing a lot of pain and weakness that day,” she said. “I took a cart because I was grocery shopping for my family. I went to get a case of soda for my husband. I thought I saw a flash of light and heard some young girls giggling. I thought nothing of it because I am use to hearing people make fun of me or saying snide remarks. It was nothing new.”
Knapp Wilkinson went on to say that it’s not OK to bully people, and all she is asking for is “compassion, understanding and respect as a fellow human being.”
“You can not see my disabilities but they are there and they are real,” she said. “So next time you see photos making fun of people just remember you know nothing about these people or the struggles they face everyday.