Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Perception Problem

We’ve all seen the drama surrounding the  Wisconsin News Anchor who received an email  that stated, “surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular…” among other not-so nice things.
This email so infuriated her husband that he posted the letter on his Facebook page and so created the great debate.  Was viewer Kenneth Krause simply giving feedback or was he bullying Jennifer Livingston?  I’m not sure I know the answer to this, because it brought up a whole different set of emotions for me.
Jennifer Livingston doesn’t look that different than I do and what struck me is this portion of the email.  “I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

How does he know she doesn’t live a healthy lifestyle? 
The simple fact is, that size does not = health.
I don’t know what Jennifer Livingston does in her free time.  With 3 young children and a job as an anchor, she probably doesn’t have much time.  However, what if she practices yoga three times a week?  What if she gets off the air in the morning and goes for a run? 
How does this viewer know how healthy she is just by looking at her?
There is a universal idea that thin equals healthy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of people who are within a healthy BMI on a doctor’s scale, but cannot walk up stairs without getting winded because they are not fit.
There are people, like me, who are considered obese by doctors, who can run half marathons.  Does that sound like someone who isn’t fit? 
I don’t look that different from Jennifer Livingston, yet I go to the gym 5 days a week.  I consider exercise an important part of my life.  I consider myself a good role for young girls. 
In fact, I consider myself a better role model for young girls than a thinner person who doesn’t exercise or eat right.
Someone who is Jennifer’s size can still be fit and healthy and she is most certainly a role model. She is a woman, a wife and a mother. She is a REAL human being who is showing young women in her community that hard work and determination can help you live your dreams regardless of size.
And Kenneth Krause doesn’t know her.  He doesn’t know what she does with her free time. He doesn’t know if she lives a healthy lifestyle or not.  He only knows that he sees someone who is not the media’s version fit. 
For all I know Jennifer Livingston is lazy and doesn’t care about being a fit role model for her children and the children of Wisconsin, but I’m not assuming either way.
What I do know is that Mr. Krause doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
He proved that by writing a letter that was hurtful and based on perception rather than reality.  Based on what he saw and what he believed to be the truth rather than seek to understand the real truth.

So, this leads me to one conclusion I’m fairly confident about.  I conclude that the email he sent doesn’t necessarily make Kenneth Krause a bully, but it most certainly proves he is kind of a jerk.


  1. This is Devon from "Distant Runners"... I love this post. I love your point about how society thinks thin=healthy. Its so untrue. I worked at the Portland Marathon this weekend, and there were "un-thin" people finishing a 26.2 mile race! But there are string beans who couldn't run a mile. Thank you for writing this post, I look forward to checking out more of your writing :)