“The cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”
This is the memorable sentence spoken by an incredibly brave curvy woman, Jennifer Livingston, a newscaster for Channel 8 News in La Crosse, Wisconsin. When she opened an email from a viewer named Kenneth Krause with the subject line, “Community Responsibility”, she never expected to become a victim of cyber bullying. The email read as follows:
“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.”
Yes, why on Earth would a hard working mother of three who has become a successful, on-air TV personality ever consider herself a suitable example to young girls?
Livingston could not possibly have handled this any better. She took to the air on live TV and addressed the email directly, bravely acknowledging that, yes, she is an overweight woman, and therefore Krause is not telling her anything she doesn’t know. She emphasized that she is very angry, not for herself but for the millions of children who are victims of cyber bullying every day and have not yet developed the self-confidence she possesses which enables her to shrug off a verbal attack like this.
Krause later apologized and said that he “never meant to hurt her” and “If she is offended, I truly apologize. That’s the last thing I ever wanted to do.”
As a blogger, it is my duty to double- and triple- check my facts before I publish them, which is something that Krause might want to consider in the future, since he clearly doesn’t know that Livingston is already “promoting a healthy lifestyle”; as a triathlete and runner, and the only reason why she is overweight is because of a thyroid condition!
Whatever the reason, having a curvy figure is just one of the many reasons a young girl or boy could be the target of bullies, and they learn very quickly that words DO in fact hurt, sometimes even more than sticks and stones, and are remembered for a very long time, especially by a young, impressionable mind. Thankfully, Livingston’s one critic was quickly drown out by the countless supportive emails, letters, phone calls, and visits she received from the people who actually know her as more than just a body type.
I am truly grateful to Jennifer for confronting cyber bullying head-on and challenging people everywhere to think about how one single hateful word can cause so much damage. Apologies can be made, people can forgive, yet the memory lives on.