A Weighty Issue: What Makes A Role Model?

I happened across a video on Facebook the other night of a CBS news anchor’s public reaction to an email she’d received from a viewer about her weight. You can find the video here. This is what the viewer said in his email to Jennifer, the anchor:

Re: “Community Responsibility”

“Hi Jennifer,

It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits a person can maintain. I leave you this note hoping you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

What bothers me most about this situation isn’t even that the viewer pointed out her weight, which is really none of his business in the first place, but rather that he insinuated that she cannot be a positive role model to young women in her community solely based on the number she sees on the scale each morning. There is something seriously wrong with a society that looks up to people based on how attractive they are, that believes overweight individuals cannot be role models. The fact that the viewer, and people like him, think that someone is an unsuitable role model simply based on how much space they happen to take up is completely unacceptable.

Good health is not purely measured by the scale. There are so many factors that go into how healthy an individual is: blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking habits, diet. I have to wonder if the viewer would have said the same thing if it had been a larger (but otherwise healthy) man? What about a woman who was thin and beautiful but suffered from high cholesterol levels, was a smoker, and had an alcohol problem? Probably not. And that’s just sad.

Here was my initial reaction to the video I saw on Facebook:

What other people think about your weight, the color of your skin, the religion you follow, or anything else for that matter is more a reflection on THEM than it is on you. This amazing, talented news anchor is absolutely right in that negativity, hatred, and discrimination are LEARNED behaviors and they need to stop.

As a mother, I strive to teach my daughter about the qualities that matter. I hope that she will look up to people who are honest, who are fair, who do the right thing no matter what, who are good, who have compassion, who love this planet. I hope that she will see beyond outward appearance and realize that true beauty really does come from within.

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21 thoughts on “A Weighty Issue: What Makes A Role Model?

  1. Charity L. says:

    Excellent post! I totally agree about this. Too often people are role models because of the way they look, not because of who they are.

    • Holli Ann says:

      I completely agree. Our society is unbelievably obsessed with appearances and, while I think it’s important to be healthy and have an active lifestyle, we need to look at the whole person more often.

  2. Brandy Gilbert Toenges says:

    That’s just disgusting that this email was even sent!! You are totally correct, a thin person can be suffering from anorexia or bulimia and not be showing the full effects of it yet. This world is just getting meaner and meaner 😦

  3. bellanna3 says:

    This is a sad commentary on our societal values. Not only is that email cruel and ignorant, it reflects complete discrimination.I’m glad to read your post though as it raises awareness to how unbelievable people can be.

    • Holli Ann says:

      I agree. I know there are a lot of people out there that will side with the man who sent that anchor the email but you just can’t pass judgement on others based solely on the size they are.

  4. Sharon (@crazykids6) says:

    Yeah, when people judge based on appearances, there’s usually an underlying issue with them and they think they’re providing some service when in reality they need to peek in the mirror and stop being so judgemental. Sheesh!

    • Holli Ann says:

      I totally agree, Sharon! I’ve found that people who pass the most judgement on others (especially those they don’t know) usually have insecurities about something in their own lives.

  5. Nicole @Little Blog on the Homestead says:

    I loved both the anchor’s response and yours. Weight is one of many factors that determine a person’s health. It is not the end all be all, and our insane focus on the physical appearance of girls/women is dangerous. We all have so much more to offer than our physical appearance whatever it may be and I would like to have my future children recognize role models for a whole lot more than what they look like! Thanks for sharing, this is a topic that really touches me.

  6. Natalie Taylor says:

    I do think that the viewer has a right to his own opinions. I do think that it was not tactful and there may have been a better approach to the messssge he was trying to get across. The part that separates me from feeling sorry for this news anchor is this. It may not be any of the viewers business how much she weighs, what her religion is, what she looks like, dresses like etc. However, when someone is in the media and communications industry like this anchor, there is a message (indirectly) she can infact be sending without realizing it. Call it what it is, the anchor is over weight. We live in a society that has an obesity epidemic and for some reason, it is condoned because it’s “none of our business”. It may be “none of our business” but the message it sends to me as a viewer is this anchor lacks self-discipline, motivation, and self-control over their health. Health is an issue and it is a hot topic. It is none of my business what she eats, what she does not, but this is the impression she’s sending to me. She may be a role-model, but not
    For her health.

    • Holli Ann says:

      I understand where you’re coming from. What I meant by my post and what I think the new’s anchor also meant is that she wasn’t ever attempting to be a role model for fitness. The viewer was very clear in telling her that she shouldn’t be on television AT ALL because of her weight and I think that’s atrocious. It isn’t his business how much she weighs and it certainly isn’t his place to tell her that she’s not capable of doing her job BECAUSE she’s fat. Now I don’t claim to know anything about her health history but she could be a very healthy, albeit overweight, person.

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