With one eloquent on-air response, CBS WKBT news anchor Jennifer Livingston is standing up for herself and victims of bullying everywhere.
On Tuesday morning, the La Crosse, Wis., anchor took a moment off from delivering the day’s news to address a recent email she’d received that harshly criticized her appearance.
The email reads: “Hi Jennifer, 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.”
The viewer continues to write: “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.”
After sharing the email on-air, Livingston responds: “Now those of us in the media, we 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,” she says. “But this email was more than that.
“The truth is: I am overweight,” she later states. “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? That your cruel words are pointing out something that I don’t see?
“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,” she says. “So you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on the scale.”
The mom of three goes on to point out that October is National Bullying Prevention Month and that emails like the one she received are teaching children it’s okay to bully.
“If you are at home and talking about the fat news lady, guess what: Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat,” Livingston said.
Viewers of WKBT have taken to the network’s Facebook page to share words of support.
“Jennifer, you are my hero! I look a lot like you and have two daughters myself. Bravo for standing up for true beauty!” writes one commenter.
Ultimately, Livingston leaves her audience an inspirational thought.
“Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many,” she says.
Kenneth Krause, the viewer who wrote the email to Livingston, however, is standing his ground.
“Given this country’s present epidemic of obesity and the many truly horrible diseases related thereto, and 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,” Krause said in a statement released after Livingston’s on-air response. “I would be absolutely pleased to offer Jennifer any advice or support she would be willing to accept.”