The bullies are getting it again.
A Wisconsin anchorwoman went public about a viewer who excoriated her for her weight in an e-mail, and the video’s going viral, with shades of the bullied bus monitor story all over it.
On Tuesday, Jennifer Livingston of WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wisc, went on air to discuss the e-mail she’d received the previous Friday. The subject line was “Community Responsibility.”
“I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years,” the note read. “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...”
Livingston’s husband, a fellow anchor, was livid. He posted the message on his Facebook page, which was then quickly flooded by supporters.
On Tuesday, Livingston addressed the growing debate on the air with a moving response, impressively not tearing up once.
“The truth is, I am overweight,” she said. “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. ... I am much more than a number on a scale.”
The video has garnered nearly 2 million views on YouTube, although the poster had to disable comments after trolls turned the discussion into a “mudfight.”
Livingston’s is the latest large-scale bully backlash.
Last month, 16-year-old Whitney Kropp of West Branch, Mich., talked about wanting to kill herself after students at her high school nominated her to the homecoming court as a prank.
She attended anyway, and the well-publicized story saw local businesses donating her a dress, shoes, hair styling and makeup. (Her father and grandfather escorted her to the homecoming.)
And earlier this year, a partially deaf New York state bus monitor landed worldwide attention (and $700,000, thanks to a Toronto man who fundraised for her) after being viciously bullied and threatened by four boys, who then filmed the attacks and posted them online as a video called “Making the Bus Monitor Cry.” It showed the boys calling Karen Klein a “fat troll” and mocking the “water” on her face – those were tears. The boys also threaten to egg Klein’s house and stab her.
As the most current victim, Livingston argued that the Internet “has become a weapon,” exacerbating bullying in schools. As a mother of three daughters, she said that “scares me to death.” She turned to parents to teach their children to be “kind, not critical” and set a better example themselves: “If you are at home and you are talking about the fat news lady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat.”
Her message to victims: “Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies.”