In a previous post, I wrote about my experience in high school with a girl named Julie who delighted more than others in tormenting me about my weight. I also mentioned that she had joined Facebook, though she had not requested me as a friend. Several days ago, she did request me as a friend and I accepted. This answered a question that had been on my mind since other people had discussed getting her to join our former class online. That question was, "was she now fat?" If you have read my other post, you will understand why this was something I would wonder about.
The main issue with fatness is that anyone who is very fat will likely avoid posting a picture of themselves. Julie's profile picture is the default grey box with white silhouette that Facebook gives everyone and she had not posted pictures of herself in her albums. However, someone tagged her in the background of a picture of two other people and revealed her current appearance. She has become extremely obese, likely close to or as heavy as I was at my highest weight.
My response to this is absolutely not a sense of triumph at the justice meted out by the universe. While I am happy that my life has been going so well, I find that I don't need others lives to be comparatively worse to feel satisfied with who I am and how I live. I mainly feel sad for her, though I'd be lying if there weren't a tiny little seed that is gratified that it is very likely she can't help but have some empathy for the fat girl she tortured in high school. I don't want her to suffer as I have, but I do want her to understand what it was like to be me and never treat another person as poorly as she treated me. Empathy is a powerful teacher and if she had to get that fat to ensure that she never hurts another fat person again, I think that is not the worst outcome.
I'm aware that I may be reaching conclusions with little more than a photo of a very fat woman as evidence. Just because she looks to weigh well over 300 lbs., it does not mean she is unhappy. Happiness, like health, is not directly related to weight. She may fully embrace bodily acceptance and be happy with who she is despite her size. However, I know too well how unlikely that is for many reasons. First of all, society makes it extremely hard to be happy at a high weight. Even if you have no health or mobility issues as a result, you are constantly reminded that you are a blight on society. Second, someone who does not post pictures of themselves and used their young, thin daughter's face as their profile picture (only to withdraw it later) is not demonstrating much in the way of bodily acceptance. For me, one thing which I forced myself to do at one point was to start putting my face out there for people to see. This was a form of accepting my appearance. Finally, Julie spent many of our youthful years using my fat body to elevate herself. There is little chance that she's now just peachy with a body which exceeds my high weight in high school.
Seeing this person who brought such misery to me in my youth end up fatter than me has been a complex emotional experience. I didn't expect necessarily to be basking in schadenfreude, so it's no surprise that I'm not doing a happy dance that my former bully is currently living out my former nightmare. Mainly, I find myself having to push a little harder to find my empathy for a fat person. This is something which has come easily for me for nearly everyone else with weight issues because I always had 100% understanding of their suffering. In her case, I think I'm having to push myself to find that kind place in myself for her. I feel little for her either way. That is, little happiness at what could be seen as a proper comeuppance and little sorrow that she is likely suffering. Considering how much glee she took in inflicting pain on me in my youth, I think I'm doing pretty well to be in neutral about her right now.