By now, I assume most people have heard Jennifer Livingston’s story.
If you haven’t, you’re missing out on an inspirational message about bullying, self worth and respect.
Livingston is a morning news anchor in La Crosse, Wis. Last week, she received an email from an occasional viewer criticizing Livingston for her weight and telling her she isn’t a good role model for young people.
“Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular,” the viewer said in an email titled “Community responsibility.”
“Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain,” he continued. “I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”
The viewer apparently felt that shaming Livingston into losing weight was his duty.
Initially, Livingston said, she tried to laugh off the email.
It takes thick skin to work in this profession. Reporters are criticized all the time, called idiots, stupid and worse.
But this email was more than that. So Livingston addressed the viewer in a 4-minute editorial on the news channel, calling the letter-writer a bully and condemning the personal attacks.
“The truth is, I am overweight. You could call me fat, and yes, even obese on a doctor’s scale,” Livingston said. “But to the person who wrote me that letter: Do you think I don’t know that? That your cruel words are pointing out something that I don’t see?”
“You know nothing about me but what you see on the outside, and I am much more than a number on the scale,” she said.
As an adult, Livingston said she’s capable of shrugging off the attacks. But, she said, bullying is learned and there are kids who don’t know any better.
“If you are at home and you are talking about the fat news lady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat,” Livingston said.
Livingston’s story has exploded across the Internet, being Tweeted and posted to Facebook over and over. The YouTube video of her bully address has nearly 2 million views.
She’s been praised for standing up to her bullying, calling him out on his “fat-shaming.”
In an interview on the “Today” show Wednesday, Livingston said she spoke out in order to set a good example for her three children.
“I’m having conversations with my 10-year-old daughter about bullying right now, and I’m telling her that if she sees bullying happen [to] other people, she needs to take a stand … Well what kind of a message am I teaching her when my husband and I are talking about this mean email that I received and I’m not taking a stand for myself?” she told Today.
The letter writer, apparently, makes no apologies for his harsh words. The man, Kenneth Krause, gave a statement to “Today.”
“Considering Jennifer Livingston’s fortuitous position in the community, I hope she will finally take advantage of a rare and golden opportunity to influence the health and psychological well-being of Coulee region children by transforming herself for all of her viewers to see over the next year,” he said.
Like Livingston said, “The cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”
Keep shouting, Jennifer.