If you live in the western world, no doubt you’ve seen or heard about this video, created by a Wisconsin news anchor after receiving a letter from a viewer who was ostensibly “concerned” about her health and her ability to be a role model to viewers.
As a fat woman, I am fully supportive of Jennifer Livingston and her decision to turn the tables on her critic by taking to the air to rebut his passive-aggressive comments (according to the Toronto Star, the two exchanged emails back and forth but when contacted by Associated Press, the man claims to have deleted the email conversation.)
What is disturbing about all of this is that there are people out there who think they have every right to tell a complete stranger what they think of their looks.
The letter writer states:
Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain.
This is a very tenuous presumption. Few obese people choose to remain so, and few make a genuine effort to maintain their weight at that level. We’re fat because losing weight is hard, because the majority of people regain the weight they do lose (plus some, which is even more unhealthy than not losing at all), and because there are often other issues, such as medical conditions, that make weight loss difficult.
And losing weight isn’t a golden ticket to perfect health.
In fact, many heavier people are just as healthy – or healthier – than thin people. For serious, I’ll put my blood pressure, glucose levels and cholesterol levels up against anybody’s… and will have the better numbers.
Being heavy doesn’t mean fat people don’t exercise, or that we sit down and eat a whole cake in one sitting. It just means that our bodies – like tall people, or short people, or people with different skin tones – don’t fit into the standard, MANUFACTURED ideal of beauty.
The scariest part of this whole story is that, sadly, the creepy letter writer is not alone. The comment section of the article about Livingstone on the Globe and Mail website includes a variety of comments that question whether she is a good role model because “we don’t want our kids growing up greedy”; a whole pile of crap regurgitated from the media about the obesity problem (which does a poor job of reporting about stories having to do with obesity anyway – that “epidemic” is manufactured by drug companies, people – do some research!!); defence of the letter writer, stating that he is not a bully; and best of all, some dicksmack who, while sort of attempting to defend Livingstone, says, “Let me be clear. I am NOT a fan of fat people in the least.”
Not a fan of fat people. How do you even argue with idiocy like that? Do you treat brunettes poorly too because you’re not a fan of brown hair? I’m not a fan of folk singers. Or clowns. Does that mean I get to yell insults at them from cars? (How about if the clown is creepy?)
Yes, we all judge one another based on looks. It’s part of our culture and part of our DNA. (Would you be surprised if I told you that fat people did it too? We don’t diss your size though, because we know what that’s like. But your fashion sense is SO on the table to be torn apart.)
The difference is in the fact that we don’t all feel the need to say it out loud. Or worse, in an email. Livingstone’s size is nobody’s business but her own. Whether she’s a news anchor (and thus a “role model”) or not, nobody has the right to approach her or contact her with their judgmental opinions. Even if – hell, especially if – those opinions are cloaked in passive-aggressive concern.
Instead of harassing Livingstone with his concern, the letter writer should perhaps look to himself and seek help for his own issues. The need to writer such a letter – or make his judgmental opinions known – speaks to some obvious personality disorders that are probably much more serious than a few extra pounds on a fat lady.