, , , , ,

Kenneth Krause, personal injury lawyer sent the following email to Jennifer Livingston, La Cross TV anchor on Wisconsin’s WKBT News 8 This morning with the subject line “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.

When I read it, words like “cruel,” “hate,” “bully,” never entered my mind. It was a constructive criticism about her appearance and that as a local personality she had an obligation to promote a healthy lifestyle. The message appeared rather mild in light of a lot of things that have gone viral on the internet. It was initially a private message that was sent directly to Jennifer Livingston.

I then listened to Jennifer Livingston’s 4 minute on-air response to Kenneth Krause’s email:

The truth is: 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 the 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.

October is is national anti-bullying month, and this is a problem that is growing every day in our schools and on the internet. It is a major issue in the lives of young people today. And as the mother of three young girls, it scares me to death. Now I am a grown woman, and luckily for me, I have a very thick skin — literally, as that email pointed out, and otherwise. That man’s words mean nothing to me. But what really angers me about this is there are children who don’t know better… The internet has become a weapon. Our schools have become a battleground. And this behavior is learned. It is passed down from people like the man who wrote me that email. If you are at home, and you are talking about the fat newslady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat. We need to teach our kids how to be kind, not critical, and we need to do that by example.

Ms. Livingston states in her response that she was not bothered by Mr. Krause’s criticism, but it is clearly apparent in her tone of voice that his words got to her. Then she makes this leap from saying that she wasn’t bothered by the email and then tying it to bullying. Where did bullying come in? A viewer makes one comment via email that she should fix her obesity problem as an obligation to the public and suddenly he’s a bully. I’m sorry, but did someone suddenly change the definition of a bully?

This is the real definition of “bully”:

The image is a tad small, please click on it to get a better view, but notice the very first line:

Bullying is the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others.

I saw neither force or coercion in Mr. Krause’s email.

But apparently “bullying” has become a national crises as is the problem with obesity. Forty-seven U.S. states have passed “anti-bullying” laws and now October is national anti-bullying awareness month. Being a victim is a full-time job for a lot of people. It’s far easier to claim victim-hood than to haul ourselves to the gym or modify our diet to not necessarily become thinner, but healthier as well. Obesity is not just a physical appearance problem, it’s a health problem as Mr. Krause noted in his email. But the cry of being “bullied” is a huge attention-getting device. Her YouTube video as of 7:30 EST tonight is almost at 3 millions views. Her “injury” may garner her more viewers or maybe even a whole new career as a talkshow host!

I’ve made the comment several times between today and yesterday after I noticed that Ms. Livingston’s response was going viral, that people are overly offended these days even over the most trifling things. Perhaps Ms. Livingston will now make a 4 minute video response to someone sticking out his tongue at her. As a local personality, someone in the spotlight, a mother to three young girls, she would have served a better example if she acknowledged that the viewer was correct and that she needed to take positive steps to correct her obesity problem.

What appalled me about this whole incident was that the majority of people who responded, mostly women, cheered her saying that she did an outstanding job defending herself. What they didn’t notice while they were loudly clapping was that they were saying “bravo to obesity”. It’s okay to live an unhealthy lifestyle.

One online news website called this whole incident “fatshaming” even while Mr. Livingston never once used the term “fat”. It’s far less about shaming than about taking personal responsibility for one’s own body and ultimately one’s whole life that affects three young girls, as well as a whole nation watching.