It's likely that on-air personalities get a lot of negative feedback, in addition to positive notes, emails and tweets from their fans. And that's probably part of the unwritten rule about having to take the bad with the good. But for WKBT-TV news anchor Jennifer Livingston, she's not taking the bad without firing back. Check out the on-air response she shared in reaction to one viewer's rude comments about her weight.
Ellen Degeneres Tweeted the video below, along with the message, "What a powerful message against bullying.@News8Jennifer, I would love to meet you in person."
As you'll see in the video, anchor Jennifer Livingston received a note from a viewer who doesn't think she sets a suitable example for their community's young people because she's overweight. Here's the exact wording of the note:
"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."
Livingston addressees the attack and the subject of bullying, which I think is interesting, particularly because of the way the viewer's note is worded. This viewer doesn't come out and call her names or make fun of her appearance in a typical bullying way. The insensitivity is embedded in a letter presented from someone claiming to be a concerned citizen who believes the sight of this overweight woman is a threat on the community.
Comments about her "choices" and "lifestyle" further imply an assumption this viewer is making about the woman's health, presumably based on her appearance alone (unless they have some inside information on her medical history and eating/exercise habits). Livingston actually addresses the fact that this viewer doesn't actually know her, saying:
"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 this show. So you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on the scale."
Maybe this viewer really thought they were doing something good by passing along these words of "wisdom," but from the outside perspective, it looks more like they were passing judgment. Some might argue that this doesn't technically qualify as bullying, but there's definitely a subtle tone of authority and negativity in the viewer's comments that pushes it in that general area. Either way, in the end, Livingston comes off looking better with her response. She doesn't make excuses for herself, only addresses the attitude of the writer and uses it to promote awareness during anti-bullying month.
Livingston showed courage in addressing the note on the air and the topic of obesity.. She references her husband Mike Thompson posting the message on his Facebook page and the response he received. For those curious, you can view his post here.