Today's post is brought to you by the morning news reporter from LaCrosse Wisconsin, Jennifer Livingston. She's a rock star.
I know you've heard her story. Someone wrote into the station, commenting on how she was overweight & perhaps she should consider losing some weight and being a better role model for kids.
I know how she feels.
As part of my day job, I do spots on local network news. Lately, these spots are product reviews (which are wicked good fun), but a few years ago, they were interview-type spots about the articles that we would run in the magazine. This particular month, we had a feature about encouraging your kids to eat healthfully.
Now, I hesitated for a moment. You see, like Jennifer, I also fall into that category. Fat. Okay, obese. It's not something I try to hide, or could hide even if I did try to--seriously? Being overweight is kind of hard to hide behind, right? But I was always proud of the fact that though I carried a few extra, I could also hold my own. I exercised, ran 5Ks, kickboxed my way around a glassed-in room each week. I was healthy. I ate good food. And I was also overweight.
So I took a deep breath and I did the segment. My friend Ronda (she's a rock star) came to my house and was watching my kids since my husband was currently deployed and this was happening in the early morning hours before they went to school. When I walked in the door, they gave me the debrief of my segment (the "umm" and "absolutely" count, did I talk with my hands too much, etc). I sat down to check my email before the kids had to be at school and we headed out for coffee.
There was an email.
Commenting on how I was probably not the right person to talk about being healthy.
Saying that since I was a fat person, I had no credibility when it came to any discussion of a healthy lifestyle. And that deep breath that I had taken earlier in the morning expelled out of me like I had just been sucker-punched in the gut.
Because my worst fears had been realized. I got called out. I was judged, harshly and critically, for my physical appearance. I was found guilty of being somehow less than because I was more than.
I composed myself and put on my best good customer service hat and replied to that email. I explained to that ... person ... that I respectfully disagreed with him. That I was indeed the right person to address this issue, as a parent who tries her best to model good behavior for her children, one who limits junk food and sugar and bad calories and encourages them to run and play. As a person who does try to be physically active. After all, healthy people come in all shapes and sizes.
Then I do what else I do best. I emailed the writer of our health column and asked her to address the skinny vs. healthy vs. fat topic in our next month's issue (because skinny people who don't work out? Are not as healthy as fat people who do.). Then I went out to breakfast with my friend and enjoyed the rest of my morning.
And when I came back to my computer, there was an apology. From some ... man ... who claimed that his teenager had sent an email to me--unbeknownst to him!--and that he was deeply sorry for the rude nature.
Yeah. I don't think so either. But if that white lie will help him to sleep through the night, more power to him. Because I know that I'm sleeping just fine.
Jennifer called her troll out on air as a bully. And I applaud her. I highly doubt the person (or this person's "teenager") would have said the same words to me in public that they felt so justified in emailing to me. Making those kinds of judgements just aren't cool. We are all responsible to be better than that. To teach our children to be better than that.
Today's song is Gavin DeGraw's I Don't Wanna Be
Because that's all I wanna be, is myself. If that's not good enough for anyone else?
I really don't give a shit.
Like I said, I'm sleeping just fine.