COLUMN: Own the things they hate or change them
I’m trying to quit smoking after more than a decade, and it is really starting to make me unpleasant to be around. Though e-cigarettes don’t quite hit the spot the way burning dried tobacco does, they will do.
I’ve tried many times to quit before, but I always ended up back at the gas station buying smokes after a day or two.
Maybe my own impulse-control issues are why the story about Jennifer Livingston, a television newscaster in Wisconsin, struck a nerve.
Long story short, a security guard named Kenneth Krause wrote her an email asking if she should be on TV as a larger woman and if she was setting a bad example for young girls in the community because of her size. By her own admission, Livingston is medically considered obese. In response, Livingston went on a four-minute rant on the air about her weight troubles, her struggle with it as a mother and her awareness of her problem.
I’m with you, sister, as I take a drag from this unsatisfying e-cig.
But then she did something that forced me into an opposing view. She accused Krause of being a bully, of attacking her viciously, all during “anti-bullying month” no less. She played the part of the bullied victim in this situation, and it was so out of character with the rest of her speech it killed it for me.
First, the email wasn’t bullying. It was insensitive and brutally honest, but there was nothing in it which mocked her or lashed out at her. If the watcher’s question was not a legitimate one, then why give it air time? It’s a random incident of trolling in response to her public presence, and as trolls go, it was actually a pretty cordial email. Compared to some of the gems I’ve received writing for The Daily, I’ll take Krause any day.
Second, this is a 37-year-old woman. If she wanted to exemplify how to handle a bully, venting on camera probably wasn’t the best choice. Why not just email the guy back and tell him what she really thinks? Her passive-aggressive response of releasing the guy’s name on the evening news is about as petty as his email in the first place. At some point, you’ve got to be too old to respond to such nonsense.
Finally, all the whole thing did was to further define her by her weight. The Huffington Post, the NY Daily News and the Daily Mail all referred to her in their headlines as the “fat-shamed” news anchor. Splendid, that must have been exactly what Livingston had in mind.
I hated when people told me they hated when I smoked. I hated having my worth devalued by some because I smoked. But I always took my share of responsibility for it, and I never felt bullied because someone called me a fool for willfully inhaling smoke.
As a nation, we are expanding waist-wise. We get to enjoy these little unhealthy personal freedoms, but then we also have to deal with the fact that some people are going to attack us for it. Own it or change it.
But if you are dealing with a bully, harassment or a similar situation at OU, please don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it.
And let your haters hate. They obviously need something to do.
Trent Cason is a literature and cultural studies senior.