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TV anchorwoman responds to a letter writer offended that she dares to be fat in public

By now you may have seen the pointed on-air response that Jennifer Livingston, a news anchor for WKTB in La Crosse Wisconsin, gave to a viewer who suggested that someone as fat as she is should not really be on TV, lest young girls get the idea that it’s ok to be fat.

Here’s the video. Some thoughts on it below.

Let’s go back, for a moment, to what the guy said in his email. (You can find a transcript of the whole video here.)

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.

While couched as helpful advice from a concerned citizen, the email basically suggests that Jennifer is, in essence, committing a crime against young girls by being fat in public. While Livingston, as a TV anchor, presumably “assaults” thousands of young girls by appearing on TV fat, the letter writer’s logic would presumably apply to every fat woman who posts pictures of herself online, appears in a play, or even just goes outside where others can see her.

Indeed, one woman I know has gotten similar, er, complaints, from people who’ve attacked her for “celebrating obesity” by posting pictures of herself on her blog looking something other than miserable and ashamed of her body.

In addition to the fact that Livingston’s weight is none of this guy’s fucking business, it should also be noted that the he’s simply incorrect in assuming that a person’s weight has much to do with the healthiness of their lifestyle. There are plenty of skinny people living less than healthy lives, including many in the public eye. (Has he ever heard of eating disorders? Or Keith Richard?) And fatness in itself is not a sign of an unhealthy lifestyle, nor does it generally add to health risks. Indeed, as author and fat blogger Kate Harding has noted:

Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized). In fact, fat people live longer than thin people and are more likely to survive cardiac events … obesity research is turning up surprising information all the time — much of which goes ignored by the media … Just because you’ve heard over and over and over that fat! kills! doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means that people in this culture really love saying it.

What you eat makes a difference to your health – not how much, or how many of the calories go directly to your waistline.

Meanwhile even those who actually want to lose a lot of weight don’t have many practical options besides gastric surgery, which carries its own health risks. Diets tend to be a mixture of quackery and false hope. They can be unhealthy and even dangerous – and the overwhelming majority of dieters eventually gain back what they lose. For most people, short of gastric surgery, the only way to lose a lot of weight and keep it off is to remain on a diet forever.

But the issue here isn’t really health. It’s body policing. As Livingston herself noted, fat people know that they’re fat. They don’t need it pointed out to them, even if the person pointing it out convinces themselves that they’re doing it for the fat person’s good. And frankly, most of those pointing it out don’t have good intentions. (It’s no coincidence that the favorite insult of the MRAs and other misogynists who hate this blog is to call me fat; I expect some will use this post an excuse for another round of fat-shaming.)

As Livingston noted in her reply to the letter-writer:

The truth is, I am overweight. You could 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? 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 a scale.

And here is where I want all of us to learn something from this. If you didn’t already know, October 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 women and luckily for me I have a very thick skin, literally, as that email pointed out, and otherwise. And that man’s words mean nothing to me. But what really angers me 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 behaviour is learned. It is passed down from people like the man who wrote me that email.

Since Livingston’s video went viral, the letter writer has come forward to double-down on his fat-shaming, saying in a statement that he hopes “she will finally take advantage of a rare and golden opportunity to influence the health and psychological well-being of Coulee Region by transforming herself for all of her viewers to see over the next year.”

I’m not quite sure why the letter writer thinks it’s Livingston’s job to “transform … herself” to meet his desired specifications. But I doubt there’s any point to arguing that with him unless he can first transform himself into something other than the real-world version of an internet “concern troll.”

After reading all this, I thought I’d take a look at MGTOWforums.com – where the regulars are not exactly shy about expressing their opinions about the appearance of women —  to see if the regulars had responded with their customary compassion and respect. By which I mean self-righteousness and fat jokes. I was not disappointed.

Bubbagumpshrimp, while himself fat, decided it was perfectly fair to attack the weight of a fat women who – gasp! – puts herself on TV.

The writer stated the truth without resorting to being mean about it. He didn’t call her fat or anything mean. He just referred to her as what she obviously is…obese. This coming from someone that’s a good sized guy. You can’t go into a career that has you on camera, be her size, and be shocked when people call you on it. You VOLUNTARILY put yourself out there to be judged. If you don’t want to be picked apart on your weight, go be an IT person or something.

The problem in this country is that obese people are viewed as victims of a medical condition. The reality of it is that they are in a self-induced state. They have no one to blame but themselves. Putting someone like that out there to be a whiner when it’s obvious that she partakes in the all you can eat buffet line makes her exactly what the writer said…not a good role model for children.

Stewie displayed his rapier wit:

You shouldn’t be reporting on climate changes when you are so fat you are causing them.

Simple conflict of interest.

I don’t think she should be allowed to talk about earth quakes or talk shit about the gravitational pull of the moon either.

You know, because she’s FAT. (The climate and weather references are there because the MGTOWforum regulars seem to think she’s a weather person.)

DruidV, meanwhile, waxed indignant that a woman who doesn’t appeal to his boner is even allowed on TV:

This kind of shit is exactly why I killed my TV years ago.

Look, bitch, you’re FAT!

Listen, bitch, it’s perfectly a okay for anyone to tell you so publicly or otherwise. You don’t have the right to not be offended.

Let me say it again, bitch, YOU ARE FAT! and also very ugly, so I guess what you really are is FUGLY, bitch!

No, it’s NOT to be celebrated either, you nasty slob! It’s disgusting and pathetic. You should at least be ashamed of yourself, since laying off the buffet and hitting the gym is apparently out of the question, but then you are also female, which means you can’t even shut up about yourself long enough to see what a laughing stock you are. Three strikes and you are out, Bertha.

That said, couldn’t we pony up some $$$ to get this hideous broad (pun intended) replaced by a hot bikini blonde weather slut? It’s bad enough to have to watch our shitty weather play out, but do we really have to look at an indignant fat pig telling us how great and special she and her husband thinks she is at the same time?

Blah!

Blah indeed — because the letter writer’s missive to Livingston was really only a more politely worded, passive-aggressive version of this sort of hateful shit.

357 replies on “TV anchorwoman responds to a letter writer offended that she dares to be fat in public”

Even ignoring all the total, petty, stupid nastiness of it, I have always been completely baffled by the idea that it is somehow helpful to inform fat people that they are fat. Has ANY fat person in the history of the world ever (non-sarcastically) replied with, “My god! Really? I had no idea! I shall go start a diet right now! Thank you for your insight, helpful stranger!” Because I really doubt it!

Guys, I think we can take it as a given that fat people are aware that they are fat, and they either:

(a) are happy that way
(b) are unhappy that way, but cannot lose weight or have not found a weight-loss method that works for them, or
(c) are unhappy that way, and are in the process of losing weight

In exactly which of those scenarios does you saying, “Hey fat person, were you aware that you are fat? My boner wishes to inform you of your fatness!” actually accomplish anything other than potentially making some stranger feel kind of crappy? Even beyond being mean, it’s fucking stupid.

Good for her 🙂 I’m a thin person who never had to work at it and because I am also lazy I never bothered to create the illusion of a healthy lifestyle to explain it. But now as I get closer to 40 the bad habits are catching up, the waistline is finding it harder to fend off my abuses, and I’ll probably pay for that and sooner than a lot of other people with higher BMI’s than I have. No free lunch and all…

I used to feel superior about this. I thought I must have been doing something right. And then I quit smoking and gained 40 pounds and realized that I hadn’t done anything worth praising at all.

Yeah, because it’s not like people’s actions have any merit. Girls should have role models who look pretty and thin. It doesn’t matter what they’ve achieved or what kind of an impression they give based on their personalities! As long as they look good, they’re good enough as role models.

What I found particularly disgusting about the original email was the “FOR THE CHILDRINZ” slant he gave to it.

Bracketing nosy, invasive advice with mewling about “for the sake of the children” does not make it okay. Children have these people around, called “parents” and “guardians.” It is THEIR job to look out for the well-being of the kids under their care. (yes, I realize there are cases where parents and guardians fail. Still not the job of a TV anchor to step in and be the parent)

I do think people can be a good role model for kids who aren’t their own (or who have none of their own). Why the heck not? There’s is a lot of benefits to it. But it is still not the job of every single person the child comes into contact with (either IRL or in various forms of media) to be the shining paragon of virtue.

Beyond that?

It isn’t anyone’s job to conform to anyone else’s standards of physical beauty, unless they want to.

I look forward to his cries of frustration over the next year as Livingston completely ignores his demand that she “transform” herself.

Anyone aware of a case where a male tv personality would have gotten letters critizising their appearance based on how they are giving little boys an impression that it’s ok to look physically unappealing? Which is a horrible message to convey, apparantely.

Oh, right, I forgot. Men act, women are. Got it. Carry on then.

That said, couldn’t we pony up some $$$ to get this hideous broad (pun intended) replaced by a hot bikini blonde weather slut? It’s bad enough to have to watch our shitty weather play out, but do we really have to look at an indignant fat pig telling us how great and special she and her husband thinks she is at the same time?

Things I’m waiting to see, ever:

“When are they going to replace all those ugly male [public job] with bikini babes? No one wants to look at that.”

It seems the peenz are only offended when a woman isn’t attractive enough to them. BUT HEY MENZ CAN BE OBJECTIFIED TOO LIKE WHEN WOMEN COMPLAIN THAT MALE ANCHORS AREN’T ALPHA OR RICH ENOUGH TO BE ON TV oh wait.

Oh, believe me. Fat men get it bad enough. Let’s just avoid the oppression olympics though.

This is a pretty classic case of concern trolling. Just the other day someone I hadn’t seen in months greeted me and by the third sentence was talking about their brother who lost a lot of weight via gastric surgery.

If you confront them though, “They didn’t mean anything by it.” or “You’re taking it the wrong way.”. When I lost 160lbs a few years back the backhanded compliments floored me with their cluelessness.

Not to mention, you should hear the shit I get for being a fat vegetarian. I get defensive stances attacking my weight. Bah. Fuck ’em all.

“When are they going to replace all those ugly male [public job] with bikini babes? No one wants to look at that.”

I’d be tempted to find a non-conventionally attractive TV man and write a request that he be replaced by pretty, delicate bishie-type men in delicate silk robes. I wouldn’t for a number of reasons, including that I’m not a wanker.

How dare fat people exist! WE CAN’T HAVE A WORLD IN WHICH CHILDREN KNOW FAT PEOPLE EXIST!

Seriously, though, this lady rocks.

“You don’t have the right to not be offended, so it’s perfectly ok if I call you fat! But you are offending my sensibilities and my boner by being publicly fat, and that should not be allowed!”

LOGIC!

Come on guys, can’t you see that he’s just so very concerned about the health of this complete stranger? He’s poking his nose into her life and shaming her publicly because he cares.

This was literally a note from this guy’s boner, wrapped up in concern trolling. Fuck him.

This letter is the perfect example of concern trolling and why it’s such bullshit.

I used to feel superior about this. I thought I must have been doing something right. And then I quit smoking and gained 40 pounds and realized that I hadn’t done anything worth praising at all.

Leni, me too. Except then I started dieting, was successful at it for a while, but in the process developed some very disordered eating habits (and some other OCD habits when I tried to not binge/starve/binge). They still get triggered once in a while, even though it’s been 6 years or so since I gave up dieting for good.

I’m not sure how much weight I gained because I don’t own a scale, but it was two clothing sizes, so maybe 25 pounds?* (I estimate my BMI is a 26 or 27, up from 23 or so.) I’ve always been interested in working towards having the healthiest habits I can, so I started looking at some calculators that predict your likelihood of developing various conditions given your lifestyle habits and family history. The interesting thing is that at my current weight vs. my “ideal”, I have about a 25% increased chance of developing diabetes, all other things being equal, but my chance of heart disease and stroke are no worse, and my chance of osteoporosis is 4x less. Since osteoporosis runs in my family, I think I’m better off the weight I am. (And I already eat very healthily and exercise, which goes further to stave of diabetes than just keeping one’s weight below a certain number.)

*I bring this up because a lot of people think that if you have to diet to stay at or below an ideal weight, and you quit, you’ll just gain weight uncontrollably. Nope, just a couple of sizes, sez me.

Even if being fat were, by itself, quite dangerous, telling someone they NEED to lose weight is still forcing your priorities onto that person. People are allowed to make the choice that they’d rather be happy than live forever. Every individual needs to make their own decisions about the cost/benefit of their actions.

There are plenty of things you can go/not do if your only goal is to live for as long as humanly possible. But is it worth it?

Obviously sometimes people far too steeply discount the future, and so are poor at working out the cost/benefit of their actions. But what they NEED is information to make their decision – not to be told what to do.

Again, this argument is based on the premise that being fat is the same as being unhealthy, when they are not the same thing.

This, though, is irrelevant to the ‘fat == ugly’ crowd, but it is something people who are actually concerned (rather than just concern trolling) should think about.

We shouldn’t be so harsh on these guys. The era they live in, the 1930’s, only had women to read the weather on the radio. They haven’t got the news about female reporters yet. Give them a chance, they have a whole 80 years to go. Damn you, suffragettes! Those marijuana-crazed jazz musicians have corrupted our innocent women.

The problem isn’t what you eat, the problem is there’s nothing to eat that’s good for you. Too fat, too thin, too pale, always tired. There’s no way to get the nutrients needed to properly sustain yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Codex Alimentarius.

Take 5 minutes and 19 seconds out of your busy life to learn something of value. The elections are still all about women. “The war on women.” Quite clearly women are the only constituents that matter. In other words, the ones with all the power.

Well? Do you want to be sickly and unhealthy all your life? Do you want to spend every last cent you earn just to maintain a barely alive existance? Let’s see what you can do with all that power.

But what they NEED is information to make their decision – not to be told what to do.

And, to take it one step further, the person who should (ideally) be giving the information is a doctor or other health professional who is better clued-in to the person’s overall health.

And even if a person does not have a regular doctor, handing them a pamphlet about the dangers of excess weight is still a no-no. There’s a time and a place, which is not generally dictated by random strangers.

Meanwhile even those who actually want to lose a lot of weight don’t have many practical options besides gastric surgery, which carries its own health risks.

understatement of the year! I wrote a huuuuuge post awhile back on gastric bypass surgery, and man, I was shocked by a lot of what I found. It is essentially an experimental surgery but it isn’t presented that way to patients. There has been ample time to collect data on the long term effects of the surgery but there aren’t published results anywhere, I am guessing that it is because the results aren’t looking so good, and the surgery is extremely lucrative. Patients are regularly given permanent diet plans that no human being could actually stick to (like only protein and non-starchy vegetables, so no fruit or bread or anything else for life) and then blamed when they fail. Other people can’t keep weight on and seriously fuck up their health, but since they are thinner they tell everyone how much healthier they are. Junk food science had a great series on weight loss surgery and its still up on the web.

Ignoring everything else, your complaint that people call you fat is silly since the name of this blog “manboobz” and gynecomastia is certainly linked to obesity and pictures of you give an image of a gentleman that is indeed overweight or perhaps even obese.

If your blog was not called manboobz you might have a point about how mean people are to you.

My blog is known as long dong silver (it’s a blog about the cretinous Clarence Thomas) and it rarely upsets me anymore when people accuse me of having a 13″ penis.

Now beats me, this may have been my 4th post in 24 hours. Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. So you all may want to count. Beats me though. Let me know if this horrible comment is the one that gets me benned.

And, to take it one step further, the person who should (ideally) be giving the information is a doctor or other health professional who is better clued-in to the person’s overall health.

Well, I was thinking more of good science reporting. People need to know about risks other than the health related ones.

For eg. when you’re deciding what car to buy, you weigh the cost of the car against its safety against its performance etc. You can’t force someone to buy the safest car, if what they want is a fast one. But you can provide the information they need to decide if a fast car is worth the risk. And you can’t tell them they should spend twice as much money on a safer car when they’d rather spend the extra money on something else entirely. They get to make their own priorities.

Up to a point of course – some stuff like seat belts have been proven to have such a good cost/benefit ratio that the govt believes it IS worth telling people they need to have them. A govt should be hesitant to enforce rules like this though, and should have very good evidence to back it up.

Weight-loss surgery is a helpful tool for people who are having health complications with their excess weight. Without the other helth complications it is questionable if the risk is worth it.

Not sure about the “no published studies” thing. I will have to dig again, but when I did my research there seemed to be a plethora of them. A number on complication rates and efficacy of various types.

When I first saw the image of that anchor on the video, I thought she was gorgeous.

But I didn’t write her a letter or post my opinion in the comments section, because it’s none of my business. She doesn’t care what I think of her, nor should she.

It’s amazingly arrogant to tell people what you think of their appearance unsolicited, it’s assuming you are the holder of some great universal truth and you have the ability to bestow it. That dude really needs to get over himself and his precious view of health and beauty.

Because being a competent news anchor means nothing unless you are pleasing to the penises of the masses. Some days I really do fucking hate the society I live in almost as much as I hate myself…

Board Stick, how is it that you’re not on permanent moderation already?

Ignoring everything else, your complaint that people call you fat is silly since the name of this blog “manboobz” and gynecomastia is certainly linked to obesity and pictures of you give an image of a gentleman that is indeed overweight or perhaps even obese.

Thanks for another example of concern trolling.

If your blog was not called manboobz you might have a point about how mean people are to you.

do whut now?

My blog is known as long dong silver (it’s a blog about the cretinous Clarence Thomas) and it rarely upsets me anymore when people accuse me of having a 13″ penis.

Link or it didn’t happen. Also:

13″ penis

Ewwww. What is your point, jay?

No, don’t, schticky, we will miss you calling people crazy and rationalizing fat shaming. So, so much. So. Much.

Some Dumb Guy Who is Bored With Your Schtick,
at last you can make your points stick
on your very own blog!
It’ll be a hard slog –
can you write when you’ve just got one trick?

Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized). In fact, fat people live longer than thin people and are more likely to survive cardiac events … obesity research is turning up surprising information all the time — much of which goes ignored by the media … Just because you’ve heard over and over and over that fat! kills! doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means that people in this culture really love saying it.

Okay, I do obesity research and this is a dramatic oversimplification. Obesity does carry a lot of important health risks: heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc. etc. etc. Yes, you are more likely to survive a heart attack if you are obese, but that’s likely due to the extra reserves you have to be able to survive a hospital stay and the fact that as you age, the people who are skinnier tend to be more frail than they are healthy.

Fat tissue does produce a lot of nasty things that are really bad for your body. Nobody knows exactly why it does this when people are overweight, but it does.

Of course, all that being said, clearly this is between an individual and their health care provider. Being angry that women exist while fat is the new “you should smile, you’d be so much prettier.”

@Kim

Oh, that is a good point, I see what you’re getting at. I was coming at it from the angle that you still don’t get to be a jackass under cover of “informing someone of a problem.”

That, no matter how good the information is, there’s socially acceptable times and places to deliver that information.

(and yeah, I know you’re using the general “you.” It’s all good)

Some guy kept waving his schtick
around, hot, heavy, and thick.
He was impressed
at his very best,
which to us was just a wee prick.

I really like how she called Mr. Concern Troll’s bullshit out for what it is – bullying. Who really cares if strangers are fat? Big deal! Mr. Concern Troll has the option to look away, or better yet, change the channel. Really, just because a thought occurs to him doesn’t mean he has to tell anyone. Didn’t this guy learn the basic adage that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”?

Honestly, people need to keep that shit to themselves. Nobody’s interested in what a judgmental asshole has to say.

@opium4themasses I’m sorry you had to go through that. 🙁

I hate the way fat people are treated. i’m conventionally attractive but my mother is fat and so is her best friend and also my best girl friend. when people trash talk to me about how fat people are lazy or eat too much or this or that, i fucking rip them a new one. it’s like, who fucking thinks that’s okay? (rhetorical question, obviously i know who, they won’t shut up about it until i tear them apart. though it rarely happens anymore.) and it’s so hard because there’s so much internalized self-loathing in some of the fat people i know, they don’t love the way they look because they’ve been told they can’t. it breaks my heart.

also, WHO THE FUCK CARES about what other people are doing or eating with their own fucking bodies??? Even if they want to be fat and worked hard at it, way to go for living their dream if that is their dream!!!!

sorry it’s just like really rage inducing for me. my mother is killing herself to lose weight and i worry about her heart and her health now that she’s eating like 1200 calories a day. 🙁

Flora, are you saying that the FA movement and allies have dramatically understated or outright denied the health risks of obesity? I’m shocked. Just shocked. All this time I thought that scientists just hated fat people.

Gah. I feel like doing a WTF comment about this, but I’d just end up sounding like Ruby doing a stating-the-bleedin’-obvious.

One of the best parts about being fat is that it is one of the best asshoke detectors ever. Never have I dated a guy only to find that he will dump me if I gain a pound or two. Never have I invested large quantities of time in friendships with people who think it is fun and dandy to ridicule fat people.

Oh, and I have large scars on my arm from a terrible accident as a teen. I was told by my fatphobic mom that I would have to settle for whatever I could get because of my weight ( I was never fat until after all the starvation dieting kicked my PCOS into overdrive) and the scars. My mom is a fucking asshole. Thank goodness that I put as much distance between her and I as possible.

Plus fuck all the health trolling on fat people. There are literally NO diseases that fat people ONLY get. Thin people get type two diabetes. Thin people get heart disease. Etc. and many of these health issues are completely treatable with lifestyle changes and meds even without weight loss. Weight gain is even a symptom for many of the so called “obesity related diseases.”

Plus, I don’t see thin people living forever.

Congrats, you don’t want to fuck me. Bored now. Want to go hang out with non abusive fuckwads.

Where is Ruby? Surely by now she should have stopped by with some piece of bigotry and outright ignorance to drop at our doorstep and run.

Its like she never got over nicky nine doors as a kid.

I was told by my fatphobic mom that I would have to settle for whatever I could get because of my weight ( I was never fat until after all the starvation dieting kicked my PCOS into overdrive) and the scars.

That’s so horrible, dualityheart. 🙁 Would your mum’s head explode if she saw the wonderful Amanda Redman’s wedding photo ?

@ dualityheart:

I agree that being fat really helps to screen out the shallow ones, which is awesome because I really loathe shallow people and wish they would all be devoured by a black hole.

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