I was a fat child and a fatter teen. I had an Aunt who would ask me at every family gathering, “When are you going to lose all that extra weight you’re carrying?” My aunt was a toothpick, an Audrey Hepburn look-a-like. Needless to say, when I lost 50 pounds during my sophomore year in high school and saw her at a family gathering, she looked at me and said, “What the heck happened to you??? You look like a starved rabbit.” Lesson learned? You lose weight for yourself – for your health or even for your vanity, but you do it because you realize it will make you happier, healthier or both. Not for the critics, and not because critics are cruel or state obvious truths. And recently when menopause instigated a ten pound weight gain, and a fellow expert pointed out my extra weight quite unkindly, I did not react like Ms. Livingston, though the comments really stung. I actually let the words light a fire “under my butt” and reconfigured my eating and exercise to lose the weight. Yes, I too had seen the extra weight on camera and in the mirror. Yes, I too take thyroid medication and now I also have the diminished metabolic rate that typically comes with menopause, to cope with. I also know that it’s my mouth taking in the excess calories and my willingness (or not) to diligently exercise and stay active. And as a lifestyle coach in private practice, I am constantly forced to ask people really difficult and sometimes painful questions in order to inspire change. I’m also paid to confront a client’s weight gain in a truthful and forthright manner.
So do I think telling someone they are overweight by private email is OK? Knowing that it could have been delivered in the public forum, I think the choice to do it privately is acceptable. Do I think suggesting that they are not a good role model because they are overweight is OK? No, but again, I assume that in a private communication the person has the right to express a private opinion. And he is not the first viewer to suggest that a public figure has to live by some pretty rigorous standards. Would I have revealed the name of this person? Not based on the specific wording of this letter. Would these words he chose have made me sit up and do something about my weight issue? It might have, because I am sometimes inspired by harsh truths. Ms. Livingston was inspired to highlight her pain and sense of feeling bullied, and to use it as a lesson to viewers. As of this morning, the lawyer who wrote this letter stands by his words and indicates that he hopes the public discussion will fuel Ms. Livingston to indeed, modify her lifestyle and be a role model.
What do you think??