Wisdom Wednesday: Jennifer Livingston Has Something to Say

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October 3, 2012 by Darlene McC

Jennifer Livingston is a news anchor of the CBS affiliate in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and she has something very important to tell you:

There is not a thing about this video that fails to make me proud of this woman; and I couldn’t agree more with what she has to say.  That email wasn’t about her (okay, it WAS actually about her, but bare with me), that email about about some booger-picking, crotch-scratching (in public), knuckle dragger who thinks it’s okay to comment in passing on women’s bodies.  He’s developed as a human being with the notion that he can rail on the women that come across his cross-eyed, limp-jawed gaze and that they should somehow be thankful for his insight.

Not only did Jennifer put this douche in his place, she did so while expanding to a greater point about young women, self-esteem, and bullying; and did it in a gracious and eloquent way.

The incident as a whole brings up a deeper conversation: why do we feel like we have the right, as a society, to comment on the bodies of others; regardless of the content of those comments?  Every week People and Us magazines have sections on “stars” that are too thin, too thick, have lost weight or put some on – giving us all a color commentary play-by-play on some other woman’s bodies.  Even complements come charged with the implication that the body that woman had before was somehow less desirable than the one she has now.  Our collective consciousness has been programmed to hurrah a 5lb weight decrease; but how do you know she was even trying for that?  What if she’s been sick or you’re fueling an eating disorder?  And as Jennifer points out in her video, by asserting the right to comment on another persons body you are teaching young people they have that right, too.

What do ya’ll think?  Do you have your own stories in this vein, good or bad?  I think there’s a broader discussion here that’s worth having.

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15 thoughts on “Wisdom Wednesday: Jennifer Livingston Has Something to Say

  1. Sarah C says:

    When I first heard about this video, all I could think was GOOD FOR HER! You don’t know a person’s situation, and you can’t judge them simply by what you see. I’ve struggled with accepting my weight for … well … forever (and mind you, I’m 5’5″, naturally muscular, and at my biggest was just shy of 150), and I WISH I was strong enough to stand up to rude comments, rather than taking them personally and believing another person’s ignorance was my problem.

    • UrbanAmazon says:

      WITH YOU! When people find out how much I weigh I’m often accused of exaggerating (about 25 to 30 lbs more than most people think) because of muscle mass. This woman’s strength, level headed-ness, and honesty is to be celebrated. She’s got a lucky husband.

  2. xdhaas says:

    I’ve always hated it when people make “skinny” comments to me, even though they probably think it’s a compliment. I do not.

    • UrbanAmazon says:

      Since I started Whole30 I have been hearing how “trim” I look from everyone at the gym – and I realized after watching this video yesterday that I’ve started focusing more on losing fat from this “diet” than on how my body feels, which is why I started this in the first place. I’m really interested in hearing how these kind of comment (especially “you look skinny”) affect other women.

  3. ctminnesota says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. I lost 60# in 6 months during the harsh winter months of a northern climate. When I popped out a “different person”, I was completely un-prepared for the barrage of comments that would come my way, and I felt like I was a human science experiment for people to comment on at will. While the majority of the comments were well-intentioned, the fact is that everyone I knew could not help but discuss my physical state – everything from touching me, guessing at what size I was, scrutinizing what I ate, drilling me about exercise, etc. And ALL of it focused on being “skinny” (which I have never been a day in my life, mind you); not a single person talked about my health. I didn’t want to leave my house or socialize with any one for months.

    This woman is so beautiful and so well-spoken. I applaud and admire her for everything that she is and for taking a public stance using a very personal situation. Her daughters are phenomenally blessed to have her as a role model and mother. She is exactly the type of person I want my daughter to look up to. Hell, she is exactly the kid of woman I look up to.

    • randiatlanta says:

      I have had similar situation, I lost 200lbs and the first question is always “where is all your extra skin?” I have had to learn to embrace that question and be very much exposed when I have to answer ” no I didn’t have to have skin removal surgery I was lucky but I am not a bikini babe either”. Reactions from others in interesting from joy to inspiration to jealousy. It’s interesting how not only do you change with weight loss but others change with you too! I have also gotten the comments “oh yeah I bet you just don’t eat now right” lol too funny with what some say.

      Congrats on the weight loss, I have also never been the skinny girl either, and have had to embrace that too! Reborn in a way.

  4. ctminnesota says:

    Reblogged this on Cheryl's Place and commented:
    I am speechless today. Check out Urban Amazon’s blog for Wisdom Wednesday. The video is so inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time for me. I feel inspired by so many blogs out there – – this one reached my soul.

    • UrbanAmazon says:

      I can’t tell you how much this comment means to me. I’m sincerely grateful for your attention and feedback – and it rewards me that you get something out of this. Thank you so much.

  5. […] Urban Amazon – Wisdom Wednesday: October 3, 2012 Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  6. Jennifer is fabulous. I love the video and the video makes me really like her.

    But, as to the ‘larger question’. Why are people (by people, I mean women) forced to endure the withering gaze of other people’s judgement? And such dehumanizing judgement! If we were enlightened beings we would perceive each other’s bodies in the context of their role in expressing the unique, living, and unseen vitality that constitutes a human person. The measured body is the ‘thingified’ body. It’s been removed from the soul, removed from the breath, drained of dignity — essentially it is a corpse, a zombie.

    Imagine translating the incomparable reality that is you into a certain number of pounds, a certain set of clothing sizes, a series of measurements. You’re not a person, you’re not a woman, you’re not a human… Why should this be? I assert that it is merely one example out of many of people treating other people as things. Chances are your employer thingifies you, the marketing people who supply you with the goods and services you use thingify you, the educator tallying up your grades, the coach evaluating your sporting statistics, the realtor sizing up your ability to pay for housing are all thingifying you.

    Why? Because most people are terrified of really seeing, or of really being seen — “Don’t look at me, look at the thing, or more troubling — the number, that serves as my avitar — that is, my income level, my GPA, my BMI, my age, my length of sobriety.” It seems safe, but it chokes life out of the soul.

    Peace,

    Paul

  7. annmquintero says:

    As a person who’s struggled with weight and self-image her entire life, this video and its message really struck a chord with me. But my larger sentiment may not be the expected one.

    I live a somewhat public life and my field is not a simple meritocracy. My appearance is directly related to the work I get. What people think of my appearance matters. Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one, and most of them stink. All of this is to say, I get how hurtful it is when strangers make personal comments about you. No matter how thick your skin is, it hurts every time. And more than the comment itself, it’s the knowing that this person has no idea who you are. The pain of being unknown and misunderstood is sometimes unbearable.

    Was that letter bullying? I’m not so sure. I’ve endured some bullying in my time. That letter, sadly, struck me as simply misguided. I, and countless others, have received similar “concerned” words. And the speaker is usually genuine. And that makes it worse somehow. It means that it’s MY job to absorb their ignorance or insensitivity. I could try to turn it into a teaching moment about nutrition and science and a god with a sense of humor. But will I be heard? Most likely not. They’ll continue to maintain their image of a slothful glutton with ice cream in one hand, a remote in the other who should be hidden from the public eye for her wanton (oh, how I wanted to be punny and say wonton!) ways.

    So, let me ask this question: Is ignorance bullying? Bullying is a huge problem in this country, but does this really qualify? Hurtful? Yes. But is it bullying any time someone hurts my feelings? This is a genuine question I’d like to see discussed.

    • UrbanAmazon says:

      OOooo, good one Ann. To me “bullying” is to knowingly belittle &/or embarrass someone (probably to make yourself feel better, but we’ll leave the psychology to the bully for another time); and in this case I’m not sure the man’s intention was to belittle or embarrass her. Regardless, he was obviously misguided.

      So no, in my opinion ignorance is not bullying; but that doesn’t mean it’s not a huge problem. Maybe her choice to call this “bullying” is wrong; but there are certainly times when “fat-bashing” in private translates to bullying in the way she describes and I can see the correlation between ignorance and bullying.

      It is definitely not this man’s place to bring up her weight – and I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Especially with our recent post about Randi & her 200lb weight loss and the way the people in her life reacted. Is their a way to bring up this kind of topic with the people you love without hurting them? Is it ever appropriate? It’s made me extra sensitive this week to the subtle ways we talk about each others bodies.

      • annmquintero says:

        I’ll never forget the time someone I was seeing asked, “have you ever thought about losing weight?” At this point in my life, I was 23 and had started my first diet when I was 7. I’d been painfully aware that my body was unacceptable for a full two-thirds of my life. The insult in that was that he apparently thought I was SO STUPID that I had no idea that I was overweight and that I had never tried to change myself. Needless to say, he was discarded.

        Honestly, no matter how much it comes out of a place of concern or love, I personally don’t think it’s our right or duty to tell anyone anything about their own bodies unless they ask. Just like I would never tell another singer about a vocal problem unless they expressly asked me, and even then, I would tread carefully. We are all on our own journeys, and we have no idea where other people are in theirs, even our nearest and dearest.

  8. Amanda says:

    Thank you, thank you for posting this. I felt such respect for Jennifer for standing up to her bully. Yes, being overweight is an issue but as Jennifer says-those of us who are overweight don’t need to be told that. I think she was brilliant in her response and people need to think before speaking. Closed minds often have the most open mouths, unfortunately.

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