Yes, I said that. I know this is going to be an unpopular post. As always, I don’t care.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the video circulating of LaCrosse, WI news anchor Jennifer Livingston calling out a viewer for ”calling her fat.” If you haven’t seen it, here it is.
I viewed it a few days ago and was immediately bothered by it. I do not think that she was being bullied. In fact, I think that in this situation her actions may have made her the bully.
This is the content of the email:
It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Nowhere in that email does the viewer call her names. He never called her fat. It seems to me that he tries to make a point without using cruel words. He also sent her a private email. He did not take to Facebook, Twitter, or message boards and attack her appearance. He did not stand outside the studio with a sign that read, “fat people are bad role models!”
Those would be the actions of a bully.
Instead, he wrote her a private email asking her to consider the impact she, as a public figure in the community, is having on other young girls.
There are lots of arguments to be made here.
Is her weight any of the his business? No.
Does he, a person who does not personally know Jennifer Livingston, have any business writing her about her weight? No.
Is obesity “one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain? Probably not.
But it’s up there.
Does Jennifer Livingston admit that she is obese? Yes.
Obesity is a problem. Look around, lots of people are overweight. It is unhealthy. It is costly for everyone. Childhood obesity has been a problem in the United States for years. No matter how much we try to encourage physical activity and healthy eating it seems to get worse year after year.
I do think that public figures have a responsibility to their audience. Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears get called out all the time for their poor choices and the examples they set for young girls. New Jersey Governor Christ Christie has had his obesity brought up as a poor example. Just like Lindsey and Britney are bad examples, so is Chris Christie.
Perhaps, so is Jennifer Livingston.
My problem though is not with her weight. Until recently I had not heard of her. It probably would have remained that way until she and her husband chose to call out the writer of this email.
She shared it with her colleagues.
Her husband posted it on Facebook.
She called him out on her own broadcast.
She called him a bully. She called him cruel. She implied that he sits at home and refers to her as the, “fat news lady.” She implied that he was a bad parent.
I wonder if it occurred to her to first respond to that email. To ask this gentleman privately the questions she was “so brave” to ask him on air. I wonder if it occurred to her that perhaps he wasn’t a bully. Perhaps, he really did think he was helping her. Perhaps, he was overweight himself and was trying to save her from the pain he had gone through.
She didn’t. She attacked him, a private person who made a poor choice, publicly. As you’ll see, Kenneth Krause had to hide out for days after she went public. When the media tracked him down – on his way to work his midnight shift – he admitted that he too was once overweight and he apologized.
Could Jennifer Livingston have responded to the email, then talked about it on air? Could she have worked with her so-called bully to find a solution, to make him understand how he made her feel? Maybe, she would have found out he had been bullied too. Maybe the two of them could have presented both sides of the bullying issue. On air.
She chose to call him out. To embarrass him publicly, even though he had interacted with her privately. She never asked if he was sorry. She never told him how his words made her feel.
Instead she took to Facebook and attacked him.
Like a bully.