And so the “bullied” becomes the bully…
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 12:10
This past week, a news segment has been circulating Facebook and Twitter concerning news anchor Jennifer Livingston and her weight.
The segment was a response by Livingston to an e-mail she had received, in which a community member expressed his concern about her weight and what kind of example she was setting for those who watched the show.
The e-mail was as follows:
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 chose to respond to this e-mail by publically airing it and responding to it, calling the e-mail an “attack” and eventually equating it to bullying.
In the segment she says, “you can call me fat”. As you can see in the e-mail above, he never says such a thing.
On the contrary, he very plainly lays out his concern about her example of obesity. Regardless of whether or not this is a fair concern, the response to this e-mail was entirely unfair and inappropriate for someone in Livingston’s position to be making.
She goes on to plainly label the viewer as a bully and suggests that he is setting a worse example for children, by teaching them to “be critical” instead of “kind”. That, “if you are at home, talking about the fat news lady […] your children will probably go to school and call someone fat”.
Let’s be clear about this: the author sent a private e-mail, never once called her fat and furthermore maintains an entirely respectful tone throughout the letter.
In my opinion, I don’t believe it was his place to make such claims; as Livingston says, “you don’t know me, you are not a friend of mine […] and you have admitted that you don’t watch this show”.
She’s right; he probably overstepped his bounds. However, he was not being a bully. A bully would have been more vicious, more aggressive and almost definitely public about his concerns. A bully would have done as Livingston did herself.
The example I see being set is that if someone disagrees with you or tells you something you can’t handle, they are automatically a bully and should be responded to without mercy.
Remember: to be insulted, hurt or offended is your choice. Even more so, how you respond to such criticism is a defining part of the example you choose to set. I for one am disappointed by Livingston’s response: it was contradictory to the message she was conveying and appeared to lack any kind of awareness.
As Ricky Gervais, one of the most consistently offensive public personalities once tweeted, “just because you’re offended, it doesn't mean you’re right”.