On Tuesday morning, WKBT anchor, Jennifer Livingston, took a moment to directly address a recent email she received from a viewer complaining about her weight:
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
Her initial reaction was to ignore the email, but her husband and fellow anchor, Mike Thompson, posted a letter Livingston received from a viewer on his Facebook page. The response was overwhelming and the story has since gone viral, and since October is anti-bullying month, she decided to respond to the weight-obsessed viewer on air:
Name calling and categorising someone according to their physical features is something we have all done, in fact South Africa has a rich history of it. But just because we have an opinion on lifestyle choices and what is “right”, does in no way make it okay to force those views on others, and bring them down in order to validate those beliefs. What weight has to do with someone’s ability to be a role model still boggles my mind and I agree with her when she says that:
“The Internet has become a weapon, our schools have become a battleground and this behaviour is learned, it is passed down from people like that man who wrote me that email. 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. ”
Livingston’s articulate and thoughtful response is definitely something we can apply to all facets of our lives and I can totally understand why it has gone viral the way it has. The video has garnered 6,930,428 views, has 49,007 Likes and 8,071 Dislikes. The reason I’ve chosen this particular video is to also highlight the extreme power the Internet holds. We need to be cognisant of this, and try to use that power only for good.