Jennifer Livingston, a local news anchor in La Crosse, Wisconsin, spoke out yesterday on her news show about weight bullying, weight bias, and asserting that her self worth is NOT defined by a number on the scale. Her words, delivered in a empowered and confident manner, touched thousands. Jennifer’s message yesterday was in response to an email she got questioning why her “physical condition has not improved” and stating “surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular.”
Women and men, of all shapes and sizes, are continually bombarded by messages that “thin is healthy” and “fat is unhealthy”, where in reality health does not have much to do with weight at all. You have been given this message. I certainly have. The message that we don’t hear as often is the strong, admirable, determined voice of those such as Ms. Livingston, who will not tolerate bullying about weight or anything else. The email that Ms. Livingston received is a form of public bullying, and Ms. Livingston’s response was spoken for all children, women and men, who experience discrimination and judgment because of their physical appearance every day. The message of this role model, one who promotes healthy self-acceptance and self-esteem is the most positive message that can young girls (and boys) can receive.
I felt compelled to write about this today for several reasons. I deeply admire Ms. Livingston and proudly applaud her strength and efforts to speak out — when so many others feel like they cannot. The video of Ms. Livingston’s response was viewed by 50,000 people yesterday — as much as the population of La Crosse, Wisconsin. It has the power to continue to spread and affect lives if we continue to share its message.
In addition, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. We all can do our part to speak up when we notice bullying, when we are bullied, or when we are playing the part of the bully. There are safe and confidential people to talk to such as school teachers, school counselors, or a parent. Ms. Livingston took a stance to state that the email she received could have taught children it’s okay to bully and that this is not acceptable.
Her words inspire me: “Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many,” she says.
Finally, this video touched home for me. I am dedicated to helping others find self-acceptance, restore self-esteem, and empowering my clients to strongly believe in themselves and their innate strengths and values. I believe that everyone is beautiful. I also have had personal experiences with feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome in my own body and when I was younger, experienced a good deal of negative feelings about my body and myself. Ms. Livingston’s message renews my energy to fight for body acceptance and body love for everyone that I can reach. The story also saddened me to know that there is still so much work to do.
What can you do?
— Leave positive, inspiring positive notes in random places to spread the word about beauty and acceptance. See how it’s done at www.operationbeautiful.com.
— Speak up when you notice someone getting teased, judged or bullied about the way you look. You can also tell a safe person such as an adult friend or teacher.
— Talk about beauty in ways that are not just focused on weight and appearance. Beauty comes in energy, mannerisms, smiles, laughter, authenticity.
What other ideas do you have?
Check out the video of Ms. Livingston’s public message here: