• Out and About alerts

A video of an overweight news anchor responding to an email regarding her appearance as a public figure, has gone viral. The person in question, Jennifer Livingston, redirected the topic of the email to bullying.

So far, the media coverage on this has been nothing except supportive of Ms. Livingston and her response to the “cruel letter” and “a bully’s harsh words” and “a viewer’s outrageous attack”.

The text of the email was aired during Ms. Livingston’s response and I’m scratching my head to find the harsh words, the attack, or the bullying.

Here is the text of the email:

“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.

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.”

Is this an attack? Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make. Obesity is a dangerous habit. It would be great if public figures presented and promoted healthy lifestyles. Ms. Livingston’s physical condition has not improved. She is not a suitable example of health.

Where is the attack? These appear to be truthful statements made with a calm, well-thought-out tone.

Ms. Livingston’s response:

“The truth is, I am overweight. You can 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? …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 is there are children who don't know better — who get emails as critical as the one I received or in many cases, even worse, each and every day.”

No one called her fat. No one directly called her obese. No one used cruel words. Which of the words in that email are cruel?

Cruel words are words such as, “tubby”, “lard-ass”, “pig”, etc. Those words were not used. The only word used was obese. Obese is not a cruel word.

Ms. Livingston claims the man’s words mean nothing to her but she’s concerned about the children. No children were involved in this interaction. This was a private email sent from an adult to another adult. Ms. Livingston frames the real issue for us,

“The internet has become a weapon and 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 news-lady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat. We need to teach our children to be kind, not critical and we need to do that by example.”

If we look at that statement it is completely scorched earth. She has just told us all that this man is using the internet as a weapon, is setting a bad example for his bully children, and his example is teaching them to be critical instead of kind.

It is also untruthful. No one called her the fat news-lady in that email.

I am still wondering how this was bullying? How were these words outrageous? To hope that someone reconsiders promoting a healthy lifestyle is not bullying. To say that they are promoting a bad image to girls is not bullying. To say that supermodels promote a bad image of health to girls is not considered bullying to supermodels, is it?

Who took a private email and has now blown it into a national discussion? Why did this happen in Wisconsin but I’m writing about it in San Diego?

The bully in this situation is Ms. Livingston. She has taken his, perhaps misguided email, and blasted him on television as a bully and a bad parent.

Did you ever express an opinion to someone, just between the two of you, only to have that person tell every single person in the school? That is bullying. No, the person involved here was not named but the point has been driven home.

The outpouring of support for Ms. Livingston only goes to show how much we support obesity as a culture. Yes, we are obese but don’t anyone dare say it or else you’re a bully and furthermore you’re enabling bullies across the country and you’re raising bully children. Does that make any sense?

What if Ms. Livingston had gone on air and said that she had been challenged to address her weight and lifestyle issues by a viewer? What if over the next year she lost the weight she’s been wanting to lose for years? What if she started a program for her community to go on walks with her as she progressed?

None of that will happen.

Instead, Ms. Livingston has chosen to become the victim of what she has chosen to call a bully. However, she is wrapping her victim-hood up as concern for children and turning it into a virtue.

Here is Ms. Livingston’s dramatic conclusion,

“I leave you with this: 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.”

She has misdirected the entire conversation away from obesity and toward bullying and we as a nation will buy that as valid. How can she bring race, sexuality, disabled children, and acne into a discussion about obesity?

I’m obese? Well, you’re a bully and nobody likes a bully. Game, set, and match to Ms. Livingston except we weren’t playing tennis, we were playing golf.

If the issue is obesity then address obesity. Ms. Livingston may as well have said that the man’s words meant nothing to her but what really angers her is Iran’s policy toward Israel or the way the replacement refs stole a win from her Packers on Monday Night Football.

It makes no sense.

The winner in this whole situation is obesity because not only has it been justified, it has been transformed into the virtue of a kind-hearted news anchor who is concerned for all children of all abilities, all races and all sexualities who would rather bravely stay overweight than let a bully win.

  • Out and About alerts

More like this:


Scott Marks Oct. 3, 2012 @ 7:52 a.m.

The vertically challenged irresponsible local public personality never once said the letter-writer called her the fat-pig news lady. She was afraid that some jadrool sitting around the breakfast table with their kids would say it and the little ones would repeat it in school. She's right. That's how the cycle of bullying begins. How would you like it if somebody took your job performance to task, not based on anything you wrote, but because of your physical appearance? Do you really think this smug missive came from someone who cared? It's a cheap shot from some PC yenta who obviously has so little going on in their scary personal life that they can take time to fire off a well-intentioned email. I'd rather be viewed as fat (which I am) than a shallow dope who thinks a teleprompter-reading TV celebrity is a role model. I sentence the letter-writer to an eternity in hell with only "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" reruns playing on channel 666.


Garrett Harris Oct. 3, 2012 @ 11:50 a.m.

...and that would have been a great response for her to make privately in a response email..."My weight has nothing to do with my job performance. My job is to cover the news not be in shape."


masouza Oct. 5, 2012 @ 6:05 p.m.

Just to point out, her husband was the one who made the email public on his Twitter, not her.


SurfPuppy619 Oct. 3, 2012 @ 8:33 a.m.

Actually obesity is much more genetic than it is a "choice". That is a proven fact. So yes it was an attack. You son like the letter writer to the station Garrett. Educate yourself son, learn a thing or two.


Garrett Harris Oct. 3, 2012 @ 11:37 a.m.

Surf puppy, if obesity is SO genetic then it must be a contagious gene because it's coming up in the world. I take that back, it's coming up in the US over the last few decades, the rest of the world appears to be immune to the obesity gene. You're an enabler Surfpupppy619.


SurfPuppy619 Oct. 5, 2012 @ 7:59 p.m.

LOL......obesity IS rising, it is from many causes. But I maintain the MAIN cause is genetics. Your body composition is going to flow to the shape you were destined to have by genes, by nature. Google adaptive thermogenesis, that is a big indicator obesity is mainly genetic. Sort of like a pro Basketball player, they are not going pro unless they have the genetics to be 6'7 on average. Look at bodybuilders, they don't get to 270# at 5'8 just by working out (nor by taking boatloads of drugs). Genetics baby.


Garrett Harris Oct. 6, 2012 @ 2:58 p.m.

Exercise turns on specific genes in the body that increase the metabolism. Genetics is a cause but it's a genetics we have a choice in. If you were to look at my immediate and extended family, you might think the obesity gene is at work, and you'd be right because they don't exercise. Check the BBC out


SurfPuppy619 Oct. 3, 2012 @ 8:35 a.m.

Did you ever express an opinion to someone, just between the two of you, only to have that person tell every single person in the school? That is bullying. No, the person involved here was not named but the point has been driven home. Dumbest comment EVER. Unless the person was identified, which he was NOT, or the idenity could be determined from the letter, it could not, your comparison is beyond stooopid.


Garrett Harris Oct. 3, 2012 @ 11:41 a.m.

In the community in which this aired, the person has been identified as a lawyer and I'm sure it won't be long before he makes a public apology. The point is she went public with something that was private. Did she reply to the email and explain her feelings privately? No, she decided to stand up for the rights of disabled children. That's BS.

BTW "Dumbest comment EVER" is begging the question therefor invalid--look it up.


Catbird Oct. 3, 2012 @ 8:55 a.m.

Sounds like the e-mailer was out to save the world from obesity, one TV personality at a time. I'm with Jennifer on this one...the e-mailer is a bully.


Garrett Harris Oct. 3, 2012 @ 12:01 p.m.

Catbird, the e-mailer was out of line for sure but a bully? Bullies taunt, intimidate and threaten people, often times in public. That is not what happened here.


Joaquin_de_la_Mesa Oct. 3, 2012 @ 11:25 a.m.

There's enough silliness to go around here.

The email got offensive when dude wrote: "Surely you don't consider yourself a suitable example for this community's young people, girls in particular."

With that line, he told newslady that 10 years of accomplishments in a very competitive field were for naught, because she's still chubby. That was offensive, not quite bullying. Nobody wants to be called an unsuitable example to young people.

That said, Newslady's response was WAY out of proportion to the offense. It reminded me of Dave Chappelle's When Keepin' It Real Goes Wrong skits. Instead of ignoring the rudeness, she decided to keep it real and went off. She got VERY silly indeed when she likened this to the struggles of people who are discriminated against because of their skin color.


Garrett Harris Oct. 3, 2012 @ 11:53 a.m.

"she decided to keep it real"...I think you mean, "she decided to keepS it real". Don't misquote the oracle.


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!