Jennifer Livingston, a small town news anchor, created a video that went nationally viral just in time for Anti-Bullying Month. In response to a viewer who chided the La Crosse, Wisconsin television personality for being overweight, Livingston went on the air to decry his attack on Tuesday morning. Kenneth Krause has since backed down from this statement, after sending it launched a public discussion of what many call “fat shaming.”
“I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years,” the viewer told the reporter over email. “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 denounced this attempt at bullying her in a segment approved by the managers of her home station WKBT-TV.
“Yes, the truth is, I am overweight,” Livingston said in a direct address to the cameras. “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… So you know nothing about me, but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on a scale.”
Sharing that she is a mother of three, Livingston reminded watchers that October is Anti-Bullying Month. She sees Krause’s behavior as a prime example of an epidemic of bullying that occurs in school and on the Internet — abuse she fears her daughters might some day be exposed to.
“This behavior is learned. It is passed down from people like the man who wrote me that email,” Livingston said. “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. We need to teach our kind to be kind, not critical, and we need to do that by example.”
Livingston decided to respond to her critic after her husband posted Krause’s message on Facebook. She received a groundswell of support. “The post was liked by roughly 1,900 people and commented on [by] nearly 3,000,” according to the International Business Times.
Since the airing of her response segment, Livingston’s encounter with her “fat shamer” has been discussed nationally, sparking discussions of how to curb bullying and the pressure on women to be thin.
“Her response went viral for one simple reason, it resonated with people,” posted black women’s web site Clutch Magazine. “All of us at some point have been judged and the more outside of the supposed norm we are, the more likely we are to have experienced this sort of abuse.”