La Crosse anchor's story over 'fat, bad role model' email goes national

CREATED Oct 2, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 3, 2012

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  • Photo: Jennifer Livingston Image by WKBT-TV

LA CROSSE- A television anchorwoman in western Wisconsin says a man who wrote her an email criticizing her weight is a bully, and her story is going viral and national.

Jennifer Livingston responded to the email Tuesday morning during a 4-minute segment on WKBT-TV in La Crosse. She's telling young viewers not to allow bullies to define their self-worth.

"Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one, are nothing compared to the shouts of many," said Livingston during the segment.

Livingston didn't identify the man, who wrote that he was surprised to see her physical condition hadn't improved for years. He wrote that he hopes she doesn't consider herself a suitable example for young people, especially girls.

"I can handle being called obese, or fat," said Livingston to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure."  "It's the part of not being a good role model especially for young girls...for that I was really offended."

Livingston says she thought nothing of the email, but she's angry that some children may not know to do the same when they're criticized, or worse, by bullies.

"I have a pretty thick skin.  I'm a tough gal.  I can handle those kind of e-mails.  What I was thinking was that I'm having conversations with my 10-year-old daughter.  I'm trying to inspire her, that if she sees bullying happen, she needs to take a stand.  What kind of message am I teaching her when my husband and I are talking about this mean e-mail...and I'm not taking a stand for myself?" she told NBC's "Today Show" during a follow-up interview.

"I can stand up for myself.  There's a lot of people that can't, and I'm going to do it."

Livingston says that ever since that segment aired, her phone has been ringing non-stop with people sympathizing and relating to her story.

"I'm getting emotional about the response that people are having from what I've said."

Her story has gone national, including appearances on national television Thursday morning, including "Today.".

"I was hoping to impact the people in my own market...what has happened has been really overwhelming, but inspiring at the same time."

She says she wants to share her message about bullying on any stage she can.

"This is a problem today and we all need to take a stand to ensure that our kids are taken care of," said Livingston.  "It's so easy to be cruel when we should try to be focusing on being kind."