If you don’t want to watch the clip, I’ll summarize: This newscaster received an email from someone who mentions they don’t watch her show regularly, but felt compelled to tell her that her “choice” to be obese was setting a bad example for the community, particularly young girls, and she should reconsider her lifestyle. The words were said politely, but so so cruel.
The woman very graciously responds to this anonymous email…her husband, also a newscaster, had posted the words on the channel’s facebook page, and she had gotten a lot of positive support from the community.
She freely admits that she is overweight, but reminds us that the focus shouldn’t be on that, but rather the fact that bullying has become such a problem in our society. The invention of the internet, facebook and texting in particular have made people feel too comfortable making fun of others. As we have seen, it has gotten to the point where kids are killing themselves and each other over the hurtful words that are said. Bullying can lead to suicide, which is the third leading cause of death among people ages 5-34. See here for stats.
I remember being made fun of a lot when I was younger. I was chubby and my last name is “Weight,” so….you do the math. I responded to that pain in a lot of different ways…not a lot of positive ways, except maybe building up a sense of humor and having sympathy for others. I was also teased for being smart and being a Christian. Because kids will be kids, and childhood can be unkind. I’m a realist; I think kids tease and are teased, and a lot of that is a part of life, but the way kids talk about each other these days can go way too far.
The line that so struck a chord with me is when she points out that these children are learning these behaviors from somewhere, and while we can blame their friends to a certain extent, I think bullying and associated behaviors that go too far are learned from parents.
As a teacher, I can’t tell you how many racist, sexist, politically incorrect, ignorant, or just plain mean comments I hear from kids every day. I watch girls be SO mean to each other, and boys say the cruelest things. And I know they’re not coming up with it on their own.
As this newscaster points out, if you are sitting around your children talking about “that fat newscaster” or “that slutty girl,” as I once heard a mom refer to a seventh grader as, guess what your kids are going to do? You wouldn’t believe the outrageous things I hear kids say – some things so racist they would make you cringe – but I know it wasn’t born in the mind of an 11 year old.
Kids listen to and hear and more importantly, REMEMBER every single freaking thing you say. I have had to learn that over and over as a teacher. I make offhand promises in class I have no intention of keeping, and then am reminded about them, six months later. Or I retell a story on accident and the kids remind me of an important detail I had forgotten. I would never risk lying to my students because they would figure it out!
I have an incredible sense of responsibility for the influence I have over the children I teach, and I’m just someone they see twice a week….the influence of a parent is so much greater than that.
I hope I remember that as a parent…there are many conversations that kids are just not meant to hear. I want childhood to last longer and be more innocent than what I see in my students today, talking about sex and drugs and saying the meanest things to each other. It’s not okay.
As I continue teaching and think about having my own family one day, I want my words to be positive words, uplifting words, that help my children and my students see the good in all people.
October is Anti-Bullying Month. But lets be kind to one another all year long.
- “fat” news lady… (dimitrisnowden.wordpress.com)
- How To Rise Above Bullying (beunltd.com)
- Amen Jennifer! Amen! (momontherun.net)
- TV anchor responds to bully’s weight critique on air (cbsnews.com)
- News Anchor Takes Down A Bully of the Day (cheezburger.com)
- Jennifer Livingston, TV Anchor, Responds To Viewer’s Attack On Her Weight (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
October 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm
Thoughtful – genuine – timely. Thank you for being generous enough to share your own experiences in order to add light, not just heat, to the public zeitgeist here. Perhaps later I’ll add my own lessons-learned as my silhouette has, er, run the gamut – but of greater value and importance to me right now is the focus on kids in this posting. I cherish my own students so much – and am similarly careful about what I say to or near my classes or my own children! Right now I want to go back in a time machine so I can hug that young Miss Weight and tell her what an incredible woman she will be — one whose vibrancy, wit and beauty will make me quite honestly never ever register what her last name “means.” Tangential thought: the more we diffuse thoughtless needling comments, the more we’re living out the Peacemakers verses from Matthew, James, etc. Anyway – what a great posting. Thank you again.