Ten years after being ruthlessly bullied as a 12-year-old, a young British woman reportedly got the chance to take down one of those childhood bullies with an old photograph and a powerful letter.
Louisa Manning, a 22-year-old Oxford University student, says she was recently asked on a date by a man who'd been her classmate when both were children. He and his friends had called her “Manbeast,” she said, and teased her in school about her weight and her appearance. Their taunting chipped away at her self-esteem, and Manning struggled to have a healthy relationship with food and her body.
Manning and her former bully ran into each other again at a ball last week, she told People, and then he asked her out via Facebook.
“It really made me angry that now I’m attractive, he instantly wants to jump into bed with me,” Manning told Buzzfeed.
“My gut instinct was to say no,” she added, “but then I realized what a brilliant opportunity it was, and after bouncing ideas off a friend for a few hours, we came up with an idea.”
Days later, the man reportedly showed up at a restaurant where Manning had said they would meet for their date. But instead of finding Manning there, he found this old photograph of her, taken when she was 12, waiting for him instead.
Behind the photograph, Manning had penned a message, which she shared with her Facebook friends last week:
Manning’s letter read:
Hey [name redacted],
So sorry I can’t join you tonight.
Remember Year 8, when I was fat and you made fun of my weight? No? I do -- I spent the following three years eating less than an apple a day. So I’ve decided to skip dinner.
Remember the monobrow you mocked? The hairy legs you were disgusted by? Remember how every day for three years, you and your friends called me Manbeast? No perhaps you don’t –- or you wouldn’t have seen how I look eight years later and deemed me fuckable enough to treat me like a human being.
I thought I’d send you this as a reminder. Next time you think of me, picture that girl in this photo, because she’s the one who just stood you up.
Since posting the photograph on her Facebook page, Manning’s letter has gone viral, earning her praise from all corners of the Internet. She was named one of Glamour Magazine UK’s “Heroes of the Week” and has reportedly received messages of encouragement and support from people all over the world.
“I think it’s crazy and quite overwhelming, I wasn’t expecting it to go this viral,” Manning told her university newspaper, The Oxford Student, of her sudden fame. “I think every tabloid ever has now printed something on me. I was pretty happy with Glamour magazine though -- I was listed hero of the week, alongside Prince Harry. Success.”
In the wake of her letter, Manning says she also got another surprise that she wasn’t expecting: an apology from the childhood bully himself.
“I can’t change who I was eight years ago, and I won’t insult your intelligence by pretending that it didn’t happen, but I hope you believe me when I say I’m a completely different person now,” the man is said to have written in a message to Manning. “I can only apologize and wish you the very best.”
Manning didn't respond to The Huffington Post's request for further details, but she told People she was "really happy he apologized. I just feel it's too little, too late."