Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Day 3. Music and bullies on the morning news in LaCrosse

Today's post is brought to you by the morning news reporter from LaCrosse Wisconsin, Jennifer Livingston. She's a rock star.

I know you've heard her story. Someone wrote into the station, commenting on how she was overweight & perhaps she should consider losing some weight and being a better role model for kids.

I know how she feels.

As part of my day job, I do spots on local network news. Lately, these spots are product reviews (which are wicked good fun), but a few years ago, they were interview-type spots about the articles that we would run in the magazine. This particular month, we had a feature about encouraging your kids to eat healthfully.

Now, I hesitated for a moment. You see, like Jennifer, I also fall into that category. Fat. Okay, obese. It's not something I try to hide, or could hide even if I did try to--seriously? Being overweight is kind of hard to hide behind, right? But I was always proud of the fact that though I carried a few extra, I could also hold my own. I exercised, ran 5Ks, kickboxed my way around a glassed-in room each week. I was healthy. I ate good food. And I was also overweight.

So I took a deep breath and I did the segment. My friend Ronda (she's a rock star) came to my house and was watching my kids since my husband was currently deployed and this was happening in the early morning hours before they went to school. When I walked in the door, they gave me the debrief of my segment (the "umm" and "absolutely" count, did I talk with my hands too much, etc). I sat down to check my email before the kids had to be at school and we headed out for coffee.

There was an email.

Commenting on how I was probably not the right person to talk about being healthy.

Saying that since I was a fat person, I had no credibility when it came to any discussion of a healthy lifestyle. And that deep breath that I had taken earlier in the morning expelled out of me like I had just been sucker-punched in the gut.

Because my worst fears had been realized. I got called out. I was judged, harshly and critically, for my physical appearance. I was found guilty of being somehow less than because I was more than.

I composed myself and put on my best good customer service hat and replied to that email. I explained to that ... person ... that I respectfully disagreed with him. That I was indeed the right person to address this issue, as a parent who tries her best to model good behavior for her children, one who limits junk food and sugar and bad calories and encourages them to run and play. As a person who does try to be physically active. After all, healthy people come in all shapes and sizes.

Then I do what else I do best. I emailed the writer of our health column and asked her to address the skinny vs. healthy vs. fat topic in our next month's issue (because skinny people who don't work out? Are not as healthy as fat people who do.). Then I went out to breakfast with my friend and enjoyed the rest of my morning.

And when I came back to my computer, there was an apology. From some ... man ... who claimed that his teenager had sent an email to me--unbeknownst to him!--and that he was deeply sorry for the rude nature.

Yeah. I don't think so either. But if that white lie will help him to sleep through the night, more power to him. Because I know that I'm sleeping just fine.

Jennifer called her troll out on air as a bully. And I applaud her. I highly doubt the person (or this person's "teenager") would have said the same words to me in public that they felt so justified in emailing to me. Making those kinds of judgements just aren't cool. We are all responsible to be better than that. To teach our children to be better than that.

Today's song is Gavin DeGraw's I Don't Wanna Be

Because that's all I wanna be, is myself. If that's not good enough for anyone else?
I really don't give a shit.
Like I said, I'm sleeping just fine.


  1. Loved Jennifer's on-air spot. More power to her! Very bold. Enjoyed this post as well. "We are all responsible to be better than that." - Indeed.

  2. Making ANY judgements is not cool! I was reading this saying, "WHAT?" We are all responsible to be better than that and that man is not comfortable in his own skin. And there is such a thing as skinny and unhealthy. See it all the time. You have a great attitude and healthy does come in all shapes and sizes.

    Perfect song for this post. Now I'll watch the video of Jennifer. Thanks you!

  3. I give the guy who apologized credit for at least doing that. It shows that it affected him. Apology comes hard to most people, and if that's his method of doing so - at least it's a step in the right direction.

    The part I liked best in Jennifer's response (and you address it too) was her direct statement, "You think I don't know that?" And acknowledging her struggle.

    It's so important that people understand that healthy doesn't equal skinny. But that's a whole new discussion.

  4. I hate it when people assume an immediate correlation btw size and fitness level. At my heaviest, I was running marathons. Now, 40 pounds lighter and another kid later, and a year and a half since my last workout, I doubt I could make it 5 miles before I had to walk.

  5. Ugh. Snap judgments just tick me off. They don't know you. They don't know your story.

    And it's so fun to judge behind an email address.

    Maybe it's just me, but I think Dante has a special level of Hell just for them.

  6. I have a sister who is very thin. Unfortunately she's judgmental about it. She rarely exercises and has little stamina for climbing stairs, as an example. So who is healthier? Someone with extra weight who works out or my skinny sister? I'm with you on the answer. I did see Jennifer's on-air response to her bully. Good for her, and you!

  7. I think it's so important for people to realize that healthy comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Good for you!

  8. Damn straight. It's strange -- our culture of the thin is what makes me uncomfortable. I have a hard time finding a healthy medium. I'm actually in the process of losing weight through a combination of ... blah blah, you know. And here's the kicker. I am fully comfortable with my 185 pound body.

    The 150 me who got married? I was nervous about that body every damned day.

    I'm terrified of this whole weight loss thing. I know what I look like right now, and I like it. I've never had body image issues relating to being overweight.

    My deepest fear is that I'll lose weight and stop looking like myself. (But. I have to get healthy. It's a bullshit excuse in my case, because I do exactly two forms of exercise, swimming and biking, with any regularity.)

    See? I think you're probably just exactly perfect and in a much better position than that guy. Or his fucking teenager. If it was the teen, then maybe he should have made his son apologize???

  9. I've been a HAES spokesperson for a few years now. I recently moved and met new friends who were big fat haters. I've been widdling them down. One of them posted this video on my FB wall last night and said, "I'm listening now, Shannon."

    Slowly, we're going to educated and de-ignorate them.

    Big hugs to you!

  10. I was just watching jennifer's clip a few minutes ago - good for her. And good for you! People are jerks.

  11. Thanks for sharing. I definitely agree that healthy can come in something other than a size 4. So, good for you! I saw this video earlier in the week. I live in Wisconsin, so it's been in pretty heavy rotation with my fb friends. I lived in LaX for about 6 years too. Bravo for both of you! And -- WTF? Your teenager did it? What a cheap cop-out. That makes that guy suck even more.

  12. Brave and wonderful you. How scary to be in front of a camera. I think I would expire.

  13. As I've gotten into running and triathlons I've been incredibly impressed at the diversity of body types people have. Skinny to overweight, you never know who is doing their first or 500th race. We all worry about how we look in our day to day lives; for some reason some people think that being on camera makes everything about you a free for all. It's ridiculous. I'm glad you didn't let that "person" ruin your day!

  14. Good post. I know some skinny people who can't run up the stairs at my house and I know some fat people who bike fifty miles every weekend morning while the skinnies are eating doughnuts. You never know, so just be quiet.

  15. Wonderful post! And what a great lesson on judgment and compassion for all of us.
    Good for you! You handled that with grace and confidence.

  16. Jennifer is awesome -- my hubby has known her since they did shows together as teens.

    And I'm fat and I know it,too. I'm also working on it. I teach 4 tap dance classes as week and keep up with my teenaged students, so even though I'm fat, I can still get my groove on! As soon as I get more than 4 hours of sleep a night, I will get back on my treadmill. Until then, sleep wins over exercise. Soon, though, soon...

  17. Great post! I admire you for standing up to that "teenage" bully and telling him what's what. I can't believe he didn't have the courage to own up to it. But aren't most bullies truly cowards when it comes right down to it?

  18. I loved the story of the reporter and her comeback to the person who called her out. I enjoyed your post as well. I LOVED the reference to the song at the end. I am going to be singing that one for days.

  19. I'm so sorry that happened to you. I didn't know what happened to Jennifer, but I did watch the video just now. It's terrible that people can't keep their cruel thoughts to themselves. People need to learn tact and respect for others. There's no call to be that way or to point out things like someone's physical appearance. Shameful behavior, really.

  20. "Because that's all I wanna be, is myself. If that's not good enough for anyone else?
    I really don't give a shit.
    Like I said, I'm sleeping just fine."

    Love. LOVE LOVE LOVE. This is such a great and inspiring post. Thank you for writing it!

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