A television news anchor from Wisconsin used her experience with bullying to send a powerful message to anyone dealing with the issue. WKBT’s Jennifer Livingston fired back at a man who recently e-mailed her to criticize her weight, saying that as a “local public personality,” she wasn’t a “suitable” role model for youth, particularly girls.
Livingston responded in a pointed, 4-minute, 21-second, on-air response. The news anchor said that the e-mailer did not know her, and that she was “much more than a number on the scale.” Livingston then turned the discussion of her weight into a rallying cry against bullying, noting that October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
You can find this response on YouTube. I’ve watched it a few times. Each time, I was more affected by the content of what Jennifer Livingston said. Her words were eloquent, inspiring, honest and empowering. The following lines are an excerpt of how the news anchor responded to the man who criticized her:
“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 that 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. …”
“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.”
Jennifer Livingston could have let this incident remain private. She did not have to share this experience with viewers at all. But the fact that she did decide to go public with it (especially this month) gave a voice to anyone who doesn’t feel empowered to speak for themselves.
We cannot remain silent where bullying is concerned. Be Unlimited applauds Jennifer Livingston for standing up and speaking out. We will continue to do the same. And we hope that you are with us. Be good to yourself. Be good to other people.