Like many teens, Megan Meier struggled with weight and the resulting toll being overweight had on her self-esteem.
According to her mother, Tina Meier, Megan was heavy and had tried for years to lose weight. She had recently shed 20 pounds down to 175. She was 5-foot 51/2 inches tall.
So, when the 13-year-old Dardenne Prairie, MO teen met 16-year-old Josh Evans, who she described as “hot,” on MySpace, Megan was elated.
“Megan had a lifelong struggle with weight and self-esteem,” Tina says. “And now she finally had a boy who she thought really thought she was pretty.”
Megan would rush to the computer every day after school to talk to Josh, said Tina. She invited him to her upcoming 14th birthday party. Then came the troubling messages.
Not only did Josh send Megan accusatory messages, he shared her messages with others. Soon, others began posting MySpace bulletins about the teen: “Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat.”
Josh’s last message to Megan – according to her father Ron’s best recollection – read “Everybody in O’Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.”
Megan’s parents reprimanded her for using vulgar language in responding to the MySpace attacks. Twenty minutes later, Megan hung herself inside her closet.
Megan Taylor Meier died the next day, three weeks before her 14th birthday. Today marks the one-year anniversary of her death.
Six weeks after Megan died her parents discovered who Josh was. The fake MySpace account was a hoax created by a neighbor, an adult woman whose own daughter had once been Megan’s friend. The woman, her daughter and an 18-year-old part-time employee monitored the Josh Evans account.
This woman knew about Megan’s battles with depression. But she said she wanted to see what Megan was saying about her daughter.
“It was like someone handed her a loaded gun,” said Ron.
Suburban News story here.
Would Megan Maier have committed suicide had she not wrestled with weight and self-esteem? Perhaps. She had been diagnosed with depression and ADD, both of which have been linked to suicide.
While Megan’s fragile self-esteem may have been the result of a myriad of factors, even her mother correlates Megan’s poor self-image to concerns about her weight. And what seems to have pushed Megan over that fatal edge is the betrayal of Josh, a boy who she thought liked her despite her weight, and who retaliated against her using fat-related attacks.
Had Megan Meier never been made to feel as if she wasn’t thin enough or pretty enough or been subjected to weight-related bullying, would her self-esteem have been strong enough to withstand the betrayal?
Had she not been born into a culture that bases a woman’s worth exponentially to the number on her scale, would Megan Meier still be alive today?
We can only speculate.
But in a culture where the majority of five-year-olds say they’d rather lose an arm than be fat, one thing is certain.* We must all work to create a culture in which no other girl’s self-esteem hinges on what she weighs.
* “Tipping The Scales Of Justice: Fighting Weight-Based Discrimination,” by Sandra Solovay, 2000. PDF link here.