While we often like to think of children as innocent and want to protect them from the world, anyone who has been through middle school knows that kids can be cruel. For those who look a little different from the ideal—a little bigger, a little shorter—life on the playground and in the classroom can become hellish.
But thankfully, the bullies don’t always win and the late bloomers can come out on top, as an incredible story from the United Kingdom showed a few years ago.
— Daily Mail Femail (@Femail) December 9, 2014
Louisa Manning was a bright young girl living in Cambridgeshire who excelled at her studies. She just had one problem: a group of male bullies who made it their life’s mission to make themselves feel big by cutting her down. The attacks started at age 8 and continued through secondary school.
They centered on Louisa’s larger size, her eyebrows, which her harassers called a “monobrow,” and her unshaven legs. All this put together led them to give Louisa a horrible nickname, the “manbeast,” as she told Buzz Feed. Needless to say, this kind of torment destroyed her confidence in herself and gave her terrible body image issues.
How was a vulnerable young woman to respond to such treatment? Sadly, Louisa internalized the bullies’ views of her and began to starve herself, “eating only an apple a day” from 8 to 11 years old as she posted on Facebook.
Despite the terrible damage these heartless kids had inflicted on her, Louisa managed to pull out ahead, getting accepted to Oxford University, one of the best in the world. Not only that, she found pride in her body and gave her inner beauty a chance to shine through.
Ten years had made a huge difference for Louisa Manning, so much so that one of the ringleaders of the bullies who treated her as an ugly duckling now thought she looked more like the belle of the ball. Amazingly, the bully had the nerve to ask her out on a date.
Manning’s first reaction was disbelief. “It really made me angry that now I’m attractive, he instantly wants to jump into bed with me,” as she told Buzz Feed. While she had no interest in spending time with a guy who had been so rude to her, “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.”
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) December 6, 2014
Manning accepted the invitation, but the bully had no idea that he was about to get a lesson he would never forget. She showed up early to the restaurant, found the table that they’d reserved, and left a photo of herself, age 12, and an incredible note that anyone who was ever bullied would just love to write!
When the young man arrived, what he read shook him to the core. “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 [expletive] enough to treat me like a human being.”
After reminding him of just exactly how much he and his friends had hurt her, she let him know his words could no longer hurt her. “Next time you think of me, picture that girl in this photo, because she’s the one who just stood you up.”
After Louisa posted the picture and note on Facebook, it went almost instantly viral—thousands of people could relate to her difficult experience at school and were so proud of the way she had stood up for herself, and them, by proxy. The bully was so ashamed, he stepped forward to apologize “about 10 years late,” as Louisa told Buzz Feed, but “it’s still an apology and amazing that I got one.”