NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A local news anchor is making headlines, not for reporting the news, but for becoming it.

Jennifer Livingston of CBS affiliate WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wisc., got personal on the air Tuesday.

Livingston read a viewer email that she received a few days before. In the letter, a man told Livingston she wasn’t a suitable example for the community because she was overweight. The letter, entitled “Community Responsibility,”  reads 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.”

Livingston said those in the media are used to getting a healthy dose of critiques from their viewers throughout the year, but this email was “more than that.”

Livingston said while she tried to laugh off the email, her colleagues, including her husband who is also an anchor at the station, could not. Her husband posted the email on his WKBT Facebook page and what happened next, Livingston said, was truly inspiring.

Livingston took to the air to address the email and all of her supporters.

“So many of you have come to my defense over the past four days — I am literally overwhelmed by your words. We are better than that email … we are better than the bullies that would try to take us down.”

She added, “We need to teach our kids to be kind, not critical, and we need to do that by example.”

Livingston, the sister of “Sex And The City” actor Ron Livingston, appeared on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday and told Norah O’Donnell she spoke out because this was a personal attack , not only on her size, but on her ability to role model her community and young girls.

“That email was well-written, it was articulate, but make no mistake, it was meant to hurt my feelings. It was meant to shame me into losing weight and in my opinion, that’s a bully,” Livingston told O’Donnell.

When Gayle King asked Livingston how she felt about her weight, she replied, “You know, I have always struggled with my weight since I started having children…my daughter was born 10 years ago. It has been a roller-coaster ride of gain and loss. If I could choose and snap my fingers to be a size that I don’t have to shop off the plus-size rack, that would be great. But I am not ashamed of myself. I am proud of who I am. Talk to me about the stories I cover, not the way I look.”

Livingston said the man who sent the email declined an invitation to appear on the show, but said he released the following statement:

“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.”

Livingston’s 4-minute reply to the original viewer email has gone viral. Ellen DeGeneres tweeted the video with the following message: What a powerful message against bullying. @News8Jennifer, I would love to meet you in person.” 

What do you think of Livingston’s response to the viewer email? Let us know below.


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