A Wisconsin news anchor for WKBT-TV, Jennifer Livingston was subjected to fat shaming via a viewer who thought that her appearance needed criticizing. Livingston’s husband–also an anchor was so upset about the viewer’s comments that he posted it the station’s Facebook page. This viewer isn’t the first, nor the last to complain about someone else’s weight. I’m curious about society’s disdain for fat and more specifically fat women. Why is our very existence an issue?
This is what the viewer had to say to Livingston:
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.”
This is how Jennifer Livingston responded:
“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.”
What I love most about Livingston’s response is that she fully admitted to being overweight, but she didn’t apologize for it. She let the viewer know that her contribution to the world goes beyond the number the scale displays. The viewer attacked her physical appearance in the attempt to break her heart. Obviously the viewer doesn’t think that Livingston should be or even consider herself a role model for young girls.
What about those chubby little girls that pray that they will one day get to see someone like them on TV? Livingston represents a revolution. With the exception of Oprah (you know she’s the exception to every rule), there aren’t many women of power that you see on a normal basis on our screens. Sure, we have stars like Queen Latifah, Jill Scott and curvy girls as small (in size) as Kim Kardashian and Beyonce who gracefully embrace their curves and show young women that it is perfectly fine that there’s no size 2′s in their closets.
Fat doesn’t mean unhealthy, even though both of these terms are often thought of synonymously, and skinny doesn’t mean healthy.
Jennifer Livingston left her overly critical viewer with these daunting words of advice for anyone out there that’s been discriminated against:
”To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the color your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face. Listen to me right now: Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies,” she said. “Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”