I have relatives who live back in Wisconsin, so I read about this story yesterday. I almost posted it last night, but I knew the story was going to go national today. I thought it would be interesting to see how the reactions to this story here in Northern California differed from those back in the Midwest. It certainly was revealing.
Here’s the link to the original story: http://www.news8000.com/news/Jennifer-Livingston-responds-to-viewer-letter-about-her-weight/-/326/16832410/-/3ilc2lz/-/index.html. I went through several pages of comments and the support for her was almost universal. That may be partly because many of them are familiar with her work and feel like they know her. But without a doubt the pervasive sentiment seems to be that it’s perfectly fine to be overweight and it’s nothing to worry about.
I figured the opinions around here would be a little bit more varied, and I wasn’t disappointed. The comment section at SF Gate (always a bit unruly) certainly didn’t let her off nearly as easily: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Wis-anchor-Viewer-criticizing-her-weight-bully-3913266.php. While there was still plenty of support, there seemed to be about as many critical comments as positive ones. It seems we Californians aren’t quite as willing to overlook a few extra pounds as the folks in the Midwest.
One of the most thought-provoking arguments went something like this. There’s strong evidence that society is influenced by what they see on television. That’s why images people smoking and advertising for hard alcohol have been scrubbed from the screen during family viewing hours. So if being obese has the same negative health risks why shouldn’t it be treated the same way? If you’re willing to accept an obese news anchor, would you be equally OK if the weatherman was shown smoking while he gave his report?