This video made the rounds yesterday, and I felt compelled to write something about it. This has really irked me, so it’s a longer than usual post today.
If you haven’t seen it yet, then take a minute to watch it, and we’ll discuss it below.
I know, right?
Why this is wrong on so many levels:
-The audacity of this viewer, Kenneth Krause. The very fact that he felt that he could say such things to someone else is bothersome. Jennifer Livingston is not his punching bag, yet he treated her as such, all the while being under the guise of the betterment of the community–yes, I’m sure that La Crosse, Wisconsin is waiting for Livingston to lose some weight for the community to be a better place to live in.
-He takes it upon himself to define who she is based solely on her appearance–specifically her weight. Krause says that she’s not a good role model for the community. He admits that he doesn’t watch her show, so how exactly has he determined that she’s a poor role model? Does being a size 2 qualify someone to be a good role model, while a size 12 disqualifies?
-This was an unprovoked attack. She was doing her job, delivering the news, and simply because he didn’t like what he saw, he verbally attacked her.
-It’s an example of sexism. How many letters has Krause sent to male public figures who are a little on the heavier side? I’m willing to bet ZERO.
I had never heard of Morning Anchor Jennifer Livingston, but as you might already know, on this blog, kick-ass women are celebrated, and I’m really impressed with how she handled this situation.
What I particularly liked about how she handled this was:
-That she addressed it in the first place. I’m sure she went back and forth a lot about whether she should just ignore it or not, and it took a lot of guts to face it full-on and discuss it on TV.
-She doesn’t apologize for her weight. Instead of apologizing for being on the heavier side, and starting a segment on how she’s joining something like Weight Watchers to get to her goal weight, like the endless list of celebrities who are doing this now, she says she’s aware of her size but doesn’t ask for approval or promise to be thinner.
-She doesn’t use humour to deflect the issue. Her feelings are obviously hurt, yet she remains strong and focused and she doesn’t minimize her feelings by cracking jokes about this.
-She labels it correctly: It’s bullying. I’ve read a few comments online that are disputing that this email was bullying. Perhaps Krause and a few others need to have the definition of bullying, clarified. Bullying encompasses many types of behaviour and one of them is harassment, verbal or otherwise. This email was certainly that.
-She raises a very important point, and that is that bullying is learned behaviour. If kids hear their parents refer to someone as being “fat,” of course they’re going to use that term with their friends. With so much work being done in different communities and schools in regards to raising bullying awareness and finding way of preventing bullying, it’s important to remind adults that kids learn from example, and what they learn at home outweighs what kids learn at school.
It’s often the message in our society that thin women are acceptable (and that variation borders on obsessiveness–thin is never too thin), and large (in some cases, average weight) is unacceptable. What is it that bothers people so much about seeing a larger woman?
For some people, when they see a small/petite woman, they see a safe and controllable package. Visible, but not overpowering.
For those same people, a large woman is seen as being too big to be controlled. Thus, a larger woman is too visible.
This is the problem that persists in our North American society. So kudos to Jennifer Livingston for not shying away from this, and for not trying to be someone who she’s not. And in the meantime, perhaps all the Krauses out there need to know that bullying women or anyone else is totally not acceptable.