When you’re in the public eye, you have to be prepared to face your fair share of harsh criticism, but when Jennifer Livingston, a Wisconsin morning news anchor received a hurtful email regarding her weight, she knew she had to speak up.

The message, which was apparently sent by a WKBT-TV viewer, read:

Subject: Community Responsibility

Hi Jennifer,

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’s husband, also a news anchor at the station, posted the email to his Facebook page, telling readers he was “infuriated” by the man’s jabs at his wife.

The conversation around the email got so heated, Livingston decided to address it on-air.

She told viewers:

The truth is, I am overweight. You can 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. You are not a friend of mine. You are not apart of my family, and you have admitted that you don’t watch this show. So you know nothing about me, but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on a scale.

Livingston went on to tell viewers that while she understands she is overweight, her body has little to do with her value as a person. She also tackled the issue bullying, speaking up for all those who have been teased because they were different.

While I love Livingston’s response to her critic, it’s sad that we’ve become so preoccupied with obesity that some view overweight individuals as bad influences simply because of the way they look.

Is Livingston a fitness role model? Certainly not. But she appears to be a thoughtful, hard working woman who won’t let critics stand in the way of pursuing her goals. And that’s a lesson many kids could stand to learn.

What do you think? Did Jennifer Livingston respond appropriately? 

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