Ever slipped and fallen at the supermarket or anywhere in public—Jennifer Lawrence-style—and been totally mortified? Even if only like five people witnessed the fall? Maybe you tried to play it off by pretending you meant to do that. If you happen to be a gorgeous celebrity like J-Law, everyone on the planet saw you fall but the tumble just made you all the more charming and celebs-they're-just-like-us.
Now, a certain other woman whose fall—while grocery-shopping—also won social-media fame is explaining why her 15 minutes of fame haven't actually been all that much fun.
When Jennifer Knapp Wilkinson toppled from her motorized scooter while trying to pick up soda off the shelf at Walmart, it was the fall heard round the world. Why? Wilkinson suffers from obesity, and the Internet apparently couldn't resist the sight of a large-framed woman caught in an embarrassing moment. Wilkinson had no power to stop her painful accident from turning into an Internet meme when it happened four years ago, but now she's fighting back.
In a letter she just published on Quora, Knapp Wilkinson reveals that she has a spinal disability called spondylolisthesis, which numbs the legs and makes it difficult to stand for long, and easy to fall. She also suffers from PTSD and depression, mental illnesses that tend to exacerbate obesity. Her conditions hae made her an irresistible target for fat-shamers and disability-mocking types.
"This is my 15 minutes of fame," Knapp Wilkinson writes on Quora. "If you check sites such as the People of Walmart or Reddit you will most likely find this photo:"
"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," Knapp Wilkinson adds. When she fell, she thought she heard people laughing but "I thought nothing of it cause I am use to hearing people make fun of me or saying snide remarks. It was nothing new."
She adds that she is "not asking people to pity or feel sorry for me," only to keep in mind that people are often suffering in ways that aren't visible. "So next time you see photos making fun of people just remember you know nothing about these people or the struggles they face everyday. It is never just harmless fun to laugh at someone. What I want is compassion, understanding, and respect as a fellow human being." It's a message worth hearing now perhaps more than ever.
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