• Great blog Amber. Very thought provoking. Something was definately lost in this highly visible interaction…on both ends.

    From Lisette
    October 4, 2012

  • Great thoughts Amber. It was a note under my door at a hotel that made me think about changing my life. Now, this viewer’s email could certainly have been worded nicer but I don’t see bullying here. If he were bullying, he would have posted it somewhere very public vs to her personal email. I really like your thoughts around how SHE could have taken a different tact as well. In another video I saw, she talks about her thyroid issue and that she works out regularly. She should have addressed that in this response.

    From Lyle Orr
    October 4, 2012

  • Lyle, I will have to check into the other video. Thanks for your comment and for sharing the idea behind your change! You are an inspiration!

    From Amber
    October 5, 2012

A Case of Bullying OR Weight discrimination?

…“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.”

While watching the attached video, I want you to consider focusing on two separate concepts: bullying and weightism. Bullying is the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others and can be a habitual behavior.  Weightism, weight bias, or weight-based discrimination can be simply defined as the discrimination or stereotyping based on one’s weight. Weight stigma reflects internalized attitudes towards the “overweight/obese” that affects how these individuals are treated. One could resonate with the stereotype that overweight people are lazy, lack self-discipline and have poor willpower; in other words- have a flawed character.

Therefore, holding an open space for the definitions above, how would you define the viewer’s email? Was the e-mail an act of weight discrimination or bullying? Inherently, the individual suggests that Livingston has chosen to be overweight. Therefore, Livingston lacks the self-discipline and will power to present and promote a healthy lifestyle. How would you define the viewer’s e-mail? Is this suggestion truly an act of bullying? Or could we better define this as an act of weight discrimination? Does it make a difference?

In better judgment I feel we may have been too quick to label this as bullying. As “bullying” is nowadays a popular buzz word. My concern is that when the word is used, or rather overused, we begin to lose sight of what true pervasive malicious meanness is.  Have we forgotten that in this world in which we reside there are without question unkind people? Did we forget that negative individuals generally embrace negativity, while positive individuals reframe? Are all negative individuals bullies? Is it politically correct to assume the term bullying is predominantly used as a tool for kids and or society to get someone in trouble- as the finger easily points towards another. Did Livingston fall victim of this overused term?  As a society have we considered that by employing phrases like “anti-bullying measures” and “zero tolerance” that we are resultantly just offering a way for people to pay lip service to stop bullying without really doing anything? Is all the “cry-wolf” diluting the message? Is the true horrible destructive nature of the action getting lost amidst its buzzword-ness? This is really something I ask you to spend a moment reflecting upon, as children and adults are truly suffering.

Therefore, in closing I hold an open space for your opinion on this matter. Why as a society do we feel the need to create wars instead of offering peace? Why do we continue to miss teachable moments? Why did the viewer fail to offer her any support? If he were writing the e-mail, wholeheartedly concerned about community responsibility, perhaps he could and should have offered her some compassion combined with suggestions. And, why did Livingston not create her own teachable moment? Why did she narrow in on the buzz term “bullying?” Instead of labeling this as an act of bullying, how could she have better addressed this e-mail in a way that put a spot-light on the problem of weightism? What do you think? How could both parties have behaved in a way that might have been more productive? Or, do you think Livingston’s response was spot-on? Comments welcome.


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