Recently, a viewer of WKBT news in Lacrosse, Wisconsin took it upon himself to write a letter to anchor Jennifer Livingston criticizing her weight, accusing her of being a poor role model for young people overwhelmed with obesity. She responded on air, pointing out to viewers that children learn such bullying at home, and that it has to stop:
LIVINGSTON: If you didn’t already know, October is National Anti-Bullying Month, and this is a problem that is growing everyday 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 tick skin — literally, as that email pointed out — and otherwise, and that man’s words mean nothing to me.
But what really angers me about this 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. 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 this email. If you were at home and you were 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. [...]
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.