It’s 2016. You would think comments about a woman’s weight would be a thing of the past.
We come in all shapes and sizes. A recent study found that the average woman in the United States wears size 16, yet there still are people who feel the need to draw attention to what they don’t find “perfect.”
Recently, I was subjected to this behavior. I was fat-shamed on television. But now I’m getting the last laugh.
As a TV news anchor, I expect to be criticized. Sometimes people don’t like the way I report a story. Other times it’s a technical error they take out on me. But more often than not, those viewers lash out at the physical features they find unappealing.
“You look fat.” “Your clothes are not flattering.” “It’s time to go see a hairstylist, your roots look awful.” The list goes on and on.
In the early days of my career, an unkind email or letter would bring me to tears. But the older I get, the more jaded I become. Not everyone is going to like me, and I’m OK with that.
But a few days ago, a viewer comment got under my skin, and I had to fight back.
I often post on Facebook to give viewers a glimpse into my everyday life. After I posted a picture of my co-anchor and me, one comment caught my attention. A man wrote, in part, “How come all you ladies at Channel 20 are overweight, except for the skinny woman on the weather? Maybe you should lay off the pizza. What a joke you all are!”
As I read those words, my jaw dropped. I’ve received my fair share of nasty insults over the years, but this one may have taken the cake.
It’s one thing to attack me on social media, but it’s extremely rude to drag my female co-workers into the mix. As the comment began to resonate, my shock turned to sadness. I wasn’t bitter because someone called me fat; I was disappointed about where we are as a society.
No two women are the same; we are all unique and beautiful in our own way. When people turn on the news, I hope they are listening to what my colleagues and I have to say, not judging us on how we look. But, unfortunately, that is not always the case. As women journalists, we are often held to a different standard. People care about what we are wearing and how our hair and makeup are styled. We have to work hard to gain credibility, to show that we have brains behind the beauty.
As I pondered whether to publicly respond to this man, I thought about my daughter. I want to be a role model for her, to show her that as a woman, she can do anything she puts her mind to. I want her to be proud of me when she turns on the television, and I hope she sees a strong, smart and confident woman looking back at her.
I want my daughter to grow up knowing that her mom is comfortable in her own skin and feels healthy, no matter what the number on the scale is.
The day after that rude man came into my life, I decided to respond. I wrote a quick message to my supporters explaining why this one comment left me rattled, and I shared my thoughts about being judged as a woman.
I told them it is time that this stops. People need to quit judging women by their looks and should see the beauty on the inside instead. I hit “publish” before I could think twice and went on preparing for my newscast.
Within minutes, hundreds of people began responding. Viewers were outraged that someone in our community would stoop so low as to verbally attack the women on the local news. Others shared their appreciation for “real women.” A kind gentleman even stopped by the news station to bring me flowers.
As the hours passed, something amazing happened: An army of supporters rallied behind me. From fellow journalists to the gas station clerk, people were cheering me on as I stood up against an online bully.
This man messed with the wrong news anchor. He may have tried to tear me down, but he ended up bringing out the kindness in others. There is so much goodness in this world, and it often appears when you least expect it. I learned that for every negative person, there are hundreds of encouraging people ready to build me up.
This lone man tried to fat-shame me, but I’m getting the last laugh. Maybe I’ll celebrate with a slice of pizza.