Fat-shaming is everywhere in our culture. This is not up for debate. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the last ways in which people are “allowed” to be total bigots to each other, because of the flimsy defense that being fat is “a choice.”
If you dare to be both a.) fat, and b.) on television, you are going to get a lot of mean comments about your body. Hell, I am neither fat nor on television, and I’ve gotten my fair share. Most public figures have a pretty thick skin about this kind of thing, Jennifer Livingston of Wisconsin’s WKBT News 8 This Morning included. But when she received a nasty fat-shaming email from a non-viewer, she decided to make an example out of him.
After reading his letter live on the air, she did not dignify his concern-trolling argument that she’s “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle” with a response. (Way to add to the chorus of “it’s super cool to be fat!” that young girls are constantly being bombarded with, Jennifer.) Rather, she calmly explained that she was not calling him out for her own benefit (as his words mean nothing to her), but that of the children:
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.
This is true. While some kids learn to be assholes from pop culture, parenting plays a huge role as well. She also talked about how she’s “much more than a number on a scale,” i.e. a human being. To which I say: props to you, Jennifer Livingston. If I lived in Wisconsin and got up early, I’d watch your show every day.