Jennifer Livingston, a morning news anchor for a CBS affiliate out of Wisconsin, took to the airwaves this week to call out a negative email she received about her weight. She referred to the email as an act of “bullying” and used four minutes of local airtime to respond to it. The full email, sent directly to Livingston by local lawyer Kenneth W. Krause is below. The subject line read: “Community Responsibility” –
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.”
While I absolutely think this email is rude and insensitive, would I call it bullying? I’m not quite sure.
“The truth is I am overweight. You can call me fat and yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart. To the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don’t know that? Your cruel words are pointing out something 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 admitted that you don’t watch this show so you know nothing about me besides what you see on the outside–and I am much more than a number on a scale….
To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the color of 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. Learn from my experience, that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”
Was Livingston, a prominent local personality, a victim of bullying? Was this the proper piece of “hate mail” to address the issue of bullying and children? Locally, nationally?
My problem with using the term ‘bullying’ to describe this email comes down to this– I agree with Jennifer on the fact that bullying is a serious matter. We have seen some terrible consequences of bullying in this country. It hits close to home for all of us, too close to home for some. But once that term ‘bully’ is out there, it can’t be retracted. As a mother to two small children who just recently started school, I feel particularly uneasy about this issue. While I agree with the majority of her comments, I am unsure whether this was the right platform to construe them.
Help me out moms!
Should Livingston have trashed the email and gone on with her day or was her response appropriate?
Please comment below and let me know your thoughts.