Jennifer Livingston is not a fashion model whose body is used as a clothes hanger to display the latest styles. She's not a glamour girl actress or reality star trading on her looks. She's also not a professional health or fitness guru. Livingston is a newscaster whose job is to deliver stories of public interest to her television viewers. That didn't stop one callous person from sending her his personal thoughts about her body.
Kenneth Krause emailed Jennifer with the call-to-action subject line, "Community Responsibility." In his email he unleashed a tirade of unasked for advice. He begins with, "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." He goes on to write, "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."
The tsk-tsk email assumes several things: That Jennifer has not considered her weight, that she wants to be a role model, and that she is choosing to be obese. Any of those things can be true, but they are all assumptions. In addition, the email is just plain rude and lacking in human kindness.
In response, Jennifer took to air, using the situation as an anti-bullying platform. Her strong words and "go girl" sense of self are akin to Tyra Banks' emotional "kiss my fat ass" TV moment. In a special four-minute editorial addendum to the news, Livingston said, "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's strong rebuttal has created a media firestorm. Commenters on blogs are divided. Is Krause offering helpful advice or attempting to shame Ms. Livingston about being fat? The public seems equally divided, and Livingston is making the talk show rounds to explain how the insensitive email made her feel.
Not all men are disgusted by Jennifer's lack of "progress." Her husband Mike Thompson, also a TV journalist, originally posted the judgmental email on his Facebook page, attracting support and positive attention. On Facebook, Thompson calls the email "infuriating" and "sick." At last count, he had received over 3,000 comments. In addition, Jennifer's brother, actor Ron Livingston, has her back. He's famous in his own right, known as an actor from "Office Space" and the popular HBO series "Sex and The City."
The reply to the reply
The public lashing did not cause Krause to back down. He took the time to email the news anchor again. The new Krause statement reads: "Given this country's present epidemic of obesity and the many truly horrible diseases related thereto, and considering Jennifer Livingston's fortuitous position in the community, I hope 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."
The real deal
Women's bodies are treated like public property. Complete strangers have no problem with telling a woman when she is too fat or too skinny. While Gabby Douglas was busy winning an Olympic Gold Medal and setting historical records, detractors took to Twitter to spew hateful comments about her hair. Sure, one could argue that anyone in the public eye is fair game; however, Gabby is a gymnast, not a hair model. How she chooses to groom herself is her business.
To the would-be bullies, feel free to comment on anyone or anything in your own private conversation. When you reach out to "share" your unasked for critiques, you may be aggressively entering someone else's head space. Think before you unleash your bombs.
Livingston is indeed, beautiful. We should applaud her for being a woman who stands up for herself.
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