A Wisconsin television anchorwoman criticized for her weight has become an overnight sensation, lauded for the way in which she has responded to her “bully” with grace -- and a brilliant smile.
Jennifer Livingston of WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wis., has been appearing on TV talk shows to tell her story, and will be a guest next week on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
“I am just shocked right now that the words of one journalist in small La Crosse, Wis., can make such a loud roar,” Livingston told the Associated Press.
In a four-minute, on-air segment, Livingston responded to someone who wrote her an email telling her she needed to lose weight.
While most of us would have been mortified to receive such an email, and hit the delete button without sharing it, Livingston chose a different route. She saw the letter as a symbol of the way people bully each other over their looks, and she used it to send a message to children that their self-worth is not defined by their appearance.
In her segment, Livingston noted that October is National Anti-Bullying Month.
“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,” Livingston said in the segment that has been retweeted, “liked” on Facebook and shared countless times, almost always followed by a message of encouragement and thanks.
“Learn from my experience -- that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many,” she said.
The letter writer, Kenneth Krause, said to be a personal injury attorney who appears to spend just as much time working out, has not backed down from his comments. Krause told Livingston that he did not believe she was a suitable role model, especially for young girls. His letter had nothing to do with bullying -- he’s just telling the truth, he told the Associated Press.
Efforts to reach Krause at his office Wednesday were unsuccessful.
In a sign of just how explosive the use of the word “bullying” is these days, the controversy over Livingston’s response has spun off into a related debate. Was Krause’s letter really bullying the news anchor? No, said one columnist for the Christian Science Monitor: It was rude, it was cruel, but it wasn’t bullying. But it is a sign of “bully creep.”
What do you think about this controversy?