Yesterday, Wisconsin news anchor Jennifer Livingston responded on air to viewer Kenneth Krause, who’d written in to shame her for being obese, and denying that she provides a “suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular” because of her weight. Her response–to call out his letter as bullying, and remind viewers that it’s unacceptable–was nothing short of awesome, and as it went viral yesterday, thousands of supporters took to social media to say so. But instead of apologizing or amending his statement, Krause pushed the issue with another public letter.
In a statement to WKBT television today, Krause basically challenged Livingston to go on a public weight loss challenge–and offered to help her with it:
Given this country’s present epidemic of obesity and the many truly horrible diseases related thereto, and considering Jennifer Livingston’s fortuitous position in the community, I hope she will finally take advantage of a rare and golden opportunity to influence the health and psychological well-being of Coulee Region children by transforming herself for all of her viewers to see over the next year, and, to that end, I would be absolutely pleased to offer Jennifer any advice or support she would be willing to accept.
The biggest irony is that Krause specifically mentions the psychological well-being of his community, without taking any responsibility for the kind of damage caused by full-grown adults fat-shaming and bullying each other.
Michelle Allison, aka “Fat Nutritionist,” explained just how damaging Krause’s attitude is (which, despite the outpouring of support from fans, is shared by many who believe they’re promoting “health”):
Telling fat people that they are bad examples for daring to have jobs and exist in public spaces is eliminationist rhetoric – it suggests that fat people have no place in this world, that they need to just go away, hide at home with the lights off, and starve themselves until they are fit to be seen in public again.
Fuck that. Fat people exist, we have existed, we will continue to exist. We have as much right to this world, and our jobs, and the public eye, as anyone else.
Our bodies and the status of our health are not public property. Our existence is not open to debate or discussion. We are here, and our health is between us and the people to whom we’ve given informed consent to make judgments about it. It is not a handy club for you to beat us with. And if you cared one iota for fat people’s health, you would shut the fuck up and let us handle our business.
There are plenty of ways that we can all get involved–politically and otherwise–to ensure that today’s kids are eating well and empowered to make healthy choices. But teaching them to stigmatize, bully and shame other people based on appearances doesn’t help our country’s health problems.
But really, Livingston said it best. Watch her stand up to Krause, and go support her on WKBT’s Facebook page: