An overweight morning news anchor at WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wisconsin, took to the air Tuesday morning to talk about an email she received about her size that she described as bullying.
Jennifer Livingston said she was stunned when she got the email Friday, saying, "Those of us in the media get a healthy dose of critiques from our viewers throughout the year, and we realize that it comes with having a job in the public eye. But this email was more than that."
She read the email aloud, without identifying the writer, which was titled "Community Responsibility" and said, in part, "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."
Livingston said she was inspired to respond on air after the overwhelmingly supportive response from the public after her husband, the station's evening news anchor, posted the email on his station Facebook page and wrote, "Seriously, the fact that there are people out there like this (and I understand this person is a lawyer in town) makes me sick to my stomach."
Livingston responded in the broadcast, saying, "Yes, the truth is, I am overweight. You could call me fat and, yes, even obese on a doctor's chart. But to the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don't know that? You don't know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family, and you have admitted that you don't watch this show. So you know nothing about me, but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on a scale."
Livingston then turned the issue into a discussion on bullying, noting that October is National Anti-Bullying Month, and saying, "This behavior is learned. It is passed down from people like the man who wrote me that email . . . We need to teach our kind to be kind, not critical, and we need to do that by example."
She ended with a message to kids being bullied, saying, "Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many."