Was Jennifer Livingston Bullied?

It has taken me a while to write about Jennifer Livingston but today I feel courageous and I want to share my thoughts on her so-called "bullying" situation. I also strategically waited until her one minute of fame died down, so I would not get caught in the cross fire. I am going to say it and stick to my words: "Jennifer Livingston was not bullied!" I know some of you are shaking your heads calling me a bad bully teacher but it is the truth. Let us take a stroll down memory lane. It was a chilly day in October, and I had just finished an anti-bully teacher training. Those training programs involve a lot of role-plays and heated discussions. Basically, I was bullied out and looking for some good posts on Facebook to distract me.  I was sitting at my computer and a friend shared a link on my page:

I watched Jennifer Livingston's video and all I could do was cringe. Don't get me wrong, I felt horrible about the email that was sent to her. Obviously, the man had some issues with curvy women and he felt entitled to share his thoughts on her weight. He was out of line, rude, disrespectful, and tactless. Let's call him Tact Man for the purpose of this blog. So Tact Man sent an email of concern about a Jennifer's weight and it was tasteless. It left millions of women with a sour taste in their mouth. But before I get down to the nitty gritty let me frame this better...I am a big fan of the TV show Bones. I love to watch Seeley & Brennan solve murders. Brennan, the main character, is funny, awkward, smart, and socially inept in some situations. I have watched all the episodes of Bones, and Brennan sometimes comes across as rude, brutally honest, and disrespectful. She has even confronted overweight people blurting out the statistics of obesity. Is Bones a bully? No, she is a TV character that portrays an intelligent woman that lacks social skills. Back to Tact Man...

Was Tact Man bullying Jennifer Livingston? No, not at all. That is not the definition of bullying. Bullying is using your power, OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, to harm someone emotionally or physically. So looking at the definition let's break it down. Did Tact Man use his power to hurt Jennifer? No, he did not have any power. She is the one that publicized the email and put him in the spotlight. So therefore, in this case, Jennifer has all the power. Did Tact Man harm Jennifer emotionally? Yes, he did hurt her feelings. Regardless of how "thick skinned" she is, the email must have hurt her. You can't argue that it didn't bother her. She went on You Tube to talk about it. If it was not a big deal it would have never been a sensational hit. So yes, I think deep down it did hurt Jennifer to read that email. Take away her colleagues and husband from the equation. I am a woman and if I got criticized about my weight or physique, I would be crushed and it probably infuriated. I would honestly call all my girlfriends and have a bitchfest. So, I can relate and support her as she stood up for herself.

Back to the definition of bullying. The critical part of the bullying definition is OVER A PERIOD OF TIME. Tact man only sent ONE email to express his thoughts. He also never called her fat, ugly, loser, or any derogatory names. He only shared his opinion. Tact Man was not bullying Jennifer Livingston but just being tactless and sharing his thoughts on her appearance.

Here is where my blood started to boil. What did Jennifer Livingston do? Well, she publicly stood up for herself and tagged the word bullying and Bully Prevention Month to her story. I wanted to scream, pull my hair out, and kick myself. It was yet another story that was misrepresented and got all this attention because someone called it bullying. Here is where it gets uglier. Jennifer Livingston's husband did the absolute worst to add to this situation. He posted Tact Man's email on his Facebook page. So by the time, I got to his page I saw the horror. People were posting nasty, mean, and inappropriate comments about Tact Man. Well that folks is bullying. So by Jennifer's husband retaliating, he helped start a bullying feed against Tact Man. Honestly, we are adults and was that really necessary? What kind of message does that send to our kids? If you receive a mean email make sure you use your social media and social status to humiliate a person. That is retaliation not standing up for yourself. In essence, Tact Man was cyberbullied.

As I am on my soapbox, I would like to add that Jennifer said that because this man used the word fat in his home his kids will go to school and call someone fat. Listen lady, if it was that simple of a problem, I would not be in business. Kids are cruel and calling each other fat is the least of their worries. Kids that are victims of bullying did not flinch at the video. Some students shared with me that they wish it would be that simple. Victims of bullying are terrorized online and face-to-face with words such as:" You are so ugly and worthless you should just kill yourself", "If you are dead no one will miss you", " You are a whore and a piece of trash, that is why I will destroy you." These are quotes I have heard and seen from my bully programs. This is what your kids are up against. Now, go back and look at the comments posted about Tact Man...Do you see the correlation?!?

In conclusion, I wrote Jennifer Livingston a few emails sharing my concerns and thoughts about bullying. Obviously, she did not respond but something funny happened on Ellen.

I am not saying she is referring to this small time bully teacher (me?!? oh yes, please pick me!) in Chicago but she was using my words when she was on Ellen. She knows that according to experts this incident was not bullying. I got my minute of fame in there too! So maybe she did read my emails and saw that I have some value to add. We will never know. I just hope that this does not offend her because the last thing I want to see is her husband posting my blog on his Facebook page!

By the way, I did not mean anything offensive by Tact Man...I often call my significant other by that name when he is being silly.

Until Next Time...


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    Great perspective. As you state she held all the power to ignore or empower her criticizer. When I saw the video I almost felt she was validating the criticism by choosing to make it public rather than ignoring it.

  • Thanks for the comment. We tell our kids to ignore it, but we also need to model the right behavior so they see that we stand behind what we believe. I appreciate your insight.

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