Can TV anchors be obese?

It’s been decades since Christine Craft first raised the issue of whether female TV anchors and reporters could be allowed to get old.

Now, a La Crosse, Wisconsin TV anchor is raising the stakes: Can they be allowed to be fat?

Jim Romenesko carries the story today of Jennifer Livingston, who got a letter from one of her viewers at WKBT in the city:

Sure 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.

She made a lot of fans by talking about it…

Comments on the state’s Facebook page are fairly unanimously.


In other news: She tells pretty interesting stories…

  • Robert Moffitt

    When vacationing in Duluth with my family recently, I noticed an on-air personality (I won’t say who) outside the station smoking a cigarette with a cameraman.

    Clearly, they were not “presenting and promoting a healthy lifestyle,” but I’m not sure that is their job. Their job is to read/report the news, as clearly and professionally as they can.

    I could care less how a TV reporter/anchor looks, or if they have a few bad habits — which of us do not?

  • Kenny

    Good observation on bullying, totally agree with you. But race and sexual preference are not a choice as becoming obese is (unless you have a medical condition). It’s a choice to eat that extra candy bar or have an extra soda which makes a person heavier, it’s not a daily choice to have darker or lighter skin. Wouldn’t have put that in there if it was me. That’s my only disagreement. Good editorial though.

  • essjayok

    Kenny: It seemed one of Jennifer’s points was that you don’t know her story, her life, or her reason for being overweight…yet you implied her weight is due to her eating choices – candy, soda. We can’t know her story by looking at her, so who are we to look at her and make that judgment?

    Bullies jump on outward appearances and make assumptions about who we are and why we are the way we are – they attack without knowing more than meets the eye.

    Her comments are, to me, spot-on about the power and problem of bullies. I think she is eloquent and brave.

  • BJ

    She appears to be a great story teller.

  • Heather

    Kenny, my aunt was obese. She struggled with her weight from her (very chubby) girlhood on — the way she carried it was not her choice, and it was not about an “extra candy bar” or an “extra soda”. She died of pancreatic cancer, but her “extra” weight bought her about 18 months of time she wouldn’t otherwise have had. Please don’t oversimplify.

  • Disco

    Well, I think the issue brings up a broader point. Obviously TV anchors CAN be obese. The thing is, more and more of the general population is becoming obese every day. Eventually one of them winds up on TV. Her obesity is likely just a reflection of everyone’s growing waistlines.

    There will probably be a lot more obese anchors ten years from now.

  • Disco

    Also, her words say that the email doesn’t hurt her, yet her tone of voice and her emotional response do not bear this out. I think she was deeply hurt by it.

    It was a cheap shot. It’s easy to email somebody and say all that.

    And it’s true that we don’t know why she’s overweight. All I know is, I have in-laws who complain about their weight whilst baking desserts and shopping at candy stores. In-laws that “announce” to their families that they want to work out or become slimmer. Then they have another slice of pie.

    Skin color and sexual preference aren’t the same thing.

  • vjacobsen

    I was thinking about this the other day.

    We are so hyper-focused on health these days (good food, good activities, good desks…) that now we all feel like it’s OK to judge the “health choices” everyone makes.

    Now people are just JUSTIFYING why they are ENTITLED to put someone down.

    All it is is bullying with smugness.

  • Robert Scott

    Actually, I get a little concerned when we conflate criticism with “bullying.” Are we bullied merely when we’re subjected to personal critques and unwarranted advice? Personally, I disagree with Livingston; I think kids should be taught to be kind AND critical, and to find the opportunities to communicate both when needed. There is such a thing as cognitive dissonance, and sometimes we attack those who tell us something we don’t want to hear, rather than consider changing our behavior. Again, Livingston clearly has great skills to offer to her community and shouldn’t be evaluated on the basis of nonsense perceptions of her body, but her response here also feels very off track.

  • Heather

    @ Robert, I think the crucial thing is your “communicate both when needed.” So when is “when needed” and when is just being mean? Sometimes it’s perfectly appropriate for people to mind their own business.

  • LG77RiverBeach

    What bothers me is turning on the morning news and seeing Anchor-women dressed in negligee looking outfits with low-cut necklines and thin, almost see-through material.

    What is wrong with this woman?

    She looks fine: just because she doesn’t conform to fashion anorexia doesn’t mean she isn’t attractive or more important-can’t deliver the news……

    It’s refreshing to see a station more interested in letting their stories get the ratings vs trying to appeal to an audience sex-appeal….

    Kuddos to this woman!!!!!

  • Sarah

    You know, the gentleman who wrote that email could have easily directed his comments towards actresses and models whose stick thin bodies are rarely the end result of “a healthy lifestyle”. But who are we to judge? People who feel better about themselves are more likely to live healthier lives. We can’t bully people into being the way we think is best. We should give people the strength to change their lives on their own if they see fit. Kudos to Jennifer for her mature, eloquent response to someone hiding behind their computer screen. Obesity may be an issue in our country, but bullying is absolutely not going to solve it.

  • David Bonner

    I think this young lady did the only responsible thing and it needed to be adressed. We have become a society that attacks those who are different or have an opposing point of view. This teaches our children that attacking someone is ok. This is as bad or worse than the comments from this gentleman. I will not join those that sling names or are calling this gentleman names. I will just say that I am extremely disappointed that we live in a society that condones this type of discourse.

    Where has all our love for people gone…