CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s the viral video that has everyone talking. A TV news anchor in La Crosse, Wis., turned a hateful letter into something positive for her and millions of other women.
CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports Jennifer Livingston, the morning anchor at WKBT in La Crosse, has become a symbol of strength, after using the airwaves to respond to a viewer who criticized her weight.
In an email to Livingston, viewer Kenneth Krause attacked her appearance, saying, “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.”
Livingston spent 4 minutes and 19 seconds of Tuesday morning’s newscast reacting to the letter.
“The truth is: I am overweight. You could call me fat; and, yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart,” Livingston said, adding that she was taking a stance against bullying.
Since then, her story has gone national.
“I was happy that she was able to stand up for herself,” said John Turton, of San Antonio.
Kathleen Stanton said she felt like crying when she saw Livingston’s story.
“Because I put on 40 pounds in the past three years, because of medication, and it’s awful. It’s an awful feeling,” Stanton said.
Dr. Sheila Dowd, a clinical psychologist at Rush University Medical Center, said the overwhelming response to Livingston’s reaction is part of recognizing flaws in ourselves.
“I think them coming out has cued everybody into feeling like they’re imperfect in some way, and maybe I can’t be any different, and I’m going to support this woman who came out,” Dowd said.
In the end, it was Livingston – with a poignant and powerful message – who got the last word.
“The cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many,” she said.
Social media has lit up since Livingston’s public reaction, with some supporting Livingston and some defending Krause’s opinion.
Krause himself has since released a statement defending his email.
“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,” he wrote. “To that end, I would be absolutely pleased to offer Jennifer any advice or support she would be willing to accept.”