Jennifer Livingston Missed the Point


Ellen DeGeneres recently tweeted a link to a video of News 8 morning anchor Jennifer Livingston who recently denounced an email that was sent to her from a local viewer Kenneth Krause who criticized her for being overweight. Since then the video has become viral on Youtube with supporters and critiquers of Jennifer clashing over whether Jennifer’s lengthy speech accusing Kenneth of being essentially a vicious socially harmful bully was justified.

For those of you have don’t know what I’m talking about, see this video:

To me Jennifer’s speech was excessive, verging on farcical.

Firstly, whilst I can appreciate that it may have been hurtful to Jennifer for her appearance to be critiqued by a stranger, Kenneth did in fact have a valid point to make.

I believe it is absolutely fine for people to choose to be overweight or pursue whatever lifestyle they wish as long as their actions don’t harm others. It is an ordained right and freedom for people to do so. I note too that there for some people for whom being overweight or obese is not a choice, rather a symptom of a larger health problem such as a stomach tumour or a glandular problem or other health problem in which case, I offer my condolences.

However, the vast majority of people in America who are fat are so by choice. Jennifer is presumably one among that majority of persons who are fat because they chose to be that way.

Jennifer’s comments revealed a (some would say understandable) sensitivity and insecurity about her weight and missed the point by refusing to put aside her personal feelings and acknowledge the larger issue at play here. 

Kenneth was not critiquing Jennifer as a person, rather Jennifer in her role as a person of significant influence and authority within her community. These are two separate beings altogether.

I believe that those who put themselves in the limelight, especially those with the special position and social role of a news anchor on national television who is given considerable powers of influence and authority do have a higher level of community and social duty to fulfill. 

Such persons have an arguably significant moral duty to be a positive role model for both children and adults watching them at home and maintain a reasonable standard of physical, social, intellectual and moral adequacy befitting such a role. I am sure that Jennifer may be a good role model in many respects but she is not a good role model in the physical sense. 

In America there is a severe health crisis with over 30% of adults obese and with the highest levels of obese children and teenagers in the world. In this dire context, it is ever more crucial that those people in positions of relative power or influence recognise their special position and aim to present their best image of healthiness to viewers at home. To label a suggestion to adopt a healthier lifestyle to better Jennifer’s ability to do so as being bullying makes a mockery of the severity of the consequences of obesity.

Even the obese know that they have chosen to be that way. Much like people who are addicted to cigarettes, so are the obese addicted to food or are, at least, unable to change their life-threatening lifestyle habits. Those who smoke are subjected to constant non-smoking advertisements and messages through the media and their communities, why should obese people be held to a different standard? Jennifer seems to think so.

Furthermore, by categorising Kenneth’s email among issues of racism and sexual discrimination, Jennifer shamefully denigrates the meaning of ‘bullying’ and applies it far too liberally. Racism and sexual discrimination are crimes of hate and passion, whilst the campaign against fat is one that has grown out of a desire to see a healthier, happier America and a legitimate concern for family, friends and others who may be reducing their lifespan as a consequence of obesity.

It seems that many on the internet would agree with me:

“If anything Kenneth is being bullied by Jennifer because she is using her power in an attempt to belittle him.”

 “I was TRULY bullied as a kid. I was beat up and picked on. You should be ashamed of yourself for trying to compare that email to true bullying.”

“…because it dilutes the meaning of the word. to compare a private email from one adult to another to public shame, ridicule and physical abuse of a child in front of other children is just shameful. Most people being bullied cannot get away from the bully. they MUST go to school, they MUST be around the person. She could have just deleted the email and go on with her life.”

Readers, what do you think about all this?

Getting Back on Track

My colleague once said to me, “I don’t believe people who say they are too tired to exercise. I’ve always got so much more energy after an hour speed walking”.

Lately I’ve come to realise the truth in this statement.

I’ve been building up my endurance on the treadmill and going for longer distances. Today I went for an 8km walk/run. Dissected, this means, a 5 min walk, over 25 min run at 9km/hr, 10 min speed walk at 7km/hr, 20 min run at 8km/hr, 15 min speed walk at 6.5 km/hr.

To the habitual runner this might not seem much, but for me, I feel this is much improved from earlier on in the year when just a 3 min run at 9km/hr would make breathless and heart rate soar up to 140-160 beats/min, no joke. Now running for 3.5 km non-stop, my heart rate is steady at around 110-120 beats/min. While this is much better, there is still a long way to go to shed those off those kilos accumulated by laziness.

Ultimately, my goal is to be able to extend the periods I am able to run for and slowly stretch out my sustained runs from 20min to 30 min, then 40 min, and eventually an hour.

I’m finding that I have so much more energy after my runs, and feel incredibly exhilarated during and after the runs. Not only are the physical benefits becoming apparent, but my mood is always lifted after I exercise and I find I am much more focused and confident in my studies afterwards, knowing that I have physically challenged myself and myself and my mother a little bit proud.

What I find incredible is Christian Bale’s extreme weight loss for The Machinist. Apparently to get in character he lost 27kg (or 63 pounds) in a matter of months. To do so, he went on an extreme diet of black coffee and apples, and would exercise for hours and hours on end. Now, I know this is probably an extremely unhealthy way to lose weight and in no ways do I condone such drastic measures to anyone at all (especially young people who are still growing, or anyone with special conditions i.e. pregnancy, poor health etc); I have to admire his determination and perseverance in being able to tell his body to do what his mind hoped for in the long-term. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to do what Christian Bale did to lose weight, but I would hope to be able to learn from his self-discipline and self-control.

I am hoping that if I am able to keep pushing myself I shall be able to run the city2surf. (

For now, baby steps. Rome wasn’t build in a day, so they say. Fitness and self-discipline can only be trained over time.

Betty Francis Got Fat?

How many of you tuned into episode 3 of season 5 of Mad Men?

Honestly, Betty getting fat was NOT something I ever expected happening. I wonder if that’s a fat suit January Jones is wearing, or if she was actually dedicated enough to actually go all Bridget Jones and put on the weight. It was probably just a fat suit since her makeup seems a bit off below…


She still looked pretty though, which is testament to how attractive January Jones is.

Jen Chaney from the Washington Post summed it up pretty well:

For those who have always had issues with “Mad Men’s” frosty mommy, the sight of a hefty Betty — dare I say an ugly Betty, even though she still looked very pretty with a bit more meat on her— was a terrific schadenfreude opportunity.

Admittedly, it was mildly pleasing to see somehow go from physical perfection to go through what everyday women go through; depression, insecurity, self-loathing and self-denial. For me, it was touching to see a projection of these everyday feelings on the big screen. It reminded me of Peggy’s weight gain in season 1 of Mad Men, and the rumors that she had gone to a ‘fat farm,’ or the time Peggy tried to dance coyly to the song ‘Bye Bye Birdy,’ only to appear awkward and uncomfortable with her body. We can’t all dance as look both adorably innocent and carelessly beautiful like Ann-Margaret (Season 3 Episode 2 of Mad Men).

However, watching a panicking Betty go through thyroid cancer testing made me feel a bit more sympathy towards Betty, which was probably one of the writers’ goals for this season, given the strong anti-Betty movement from season 1 onwards. I wonder why people hate Betty so much. It may be sparked by perceptions of her being a bad, unstable mother, prone to criticizing or failing to empathise with her children. I think I may be in the minority in saying that I’ve always quite liked Betty and most of the women on the show, much more so than the men, in their having to find their sense of self in the mist of rampant sexism and condescension so pervasive in their lives.

I’m interested in seeing how Betty deal with her weight problems.  The fact that the episode ended with Betty eating spoonfuls of ice cream, tells me she is going to go through a difficult and long journey. I feel like we can Betty and I buddies in this journey towards re-finding ourselves, as ludicrous as that may sound… I just have to make sure that I don’t eat too many dumplings tonight.

The 5 Best Character Impressions

Happy Earth Hour Fellow Internet Brethren!

(Technically, Earth Hour is over for me down here in Australia, but maybe not for those from distant places and countries oceans away from this little island…)

At no. 5:

I stumbled across this hidden gem one evening whilst surfing Youtube, when I should probably have been catching up on my university readings. I don’t regret it though – Sara Benincasa, a rising comedic star, plays Peggy Olson in the amusing imagined scenarios: “If Peggy from MAD MEN Vlogged.” Sara has Peggy’s wide-eyed earnestness and facial expressions down-pat. The script is also brilliant with such gold like:  “Trudy started community college” “…somewhere Mrs Draper makes a facial expression…slightly.” Kudos to Sara for a great performance.

At no.4

Simon Amstell pulls off playing the tight-jeans wearing, over-the-top, hand-flailing Russell Brand quite well on ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’. Amusingly, Russell seemed to enjoy watching him flounce about, particularly when Simon capitulated with the penultimate Brand-esque flourish of “f*** herself.” I swear the show is just not the same without Simon. Not even close.

At no. 3

Surely Tina’s Fey’s impressions of Sarah Palin on lSNL’ was one of the highlights of the 2008 US Election Saga (On a sidenote, was that really in 2008? Goodness,  time flies!). Sadly, like of the comments left on the page, “The sad thing is that I don’t think Tina [Fey] even had to make this funny…” pretty much says it all.

At no. 2

I’m sort of cheating here since Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan do A LOT of impressions in that clip alone from BAFTA award-winning TV show ‘The Trip’, but it’s just gold and I couldn’t properly choose one out of them. If you haven’t yet seen the sitcom, rent it out immediately. It’s comedy at it’s best.

At no. 1


Combining one of the best songs to come out of 2011 and the man who refuses to go away, our dear short-lived, ex-Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, this ingenious parody shows him lamenting the distance between  him and our current PM Julia Gillard. Like many Aussies, I had to giggle a bit at this uncanny representation of the Rudd/Gillard dynamic.

I guess  strictly speaking, this isn’t an ‘impression’ per se, but, seriously, kudos to the good people who came up with the idea of placing silly Australian politics at the heart of a sweet breakup song. It just goes to show how ridiculously ludicrous our Labor party is right now. God help us.
Well there you have it – these are my 5 favourite impressions.

I will try to blog again soon. I hope this post amuses or just even catches the eye of at least one other person in the blogosphere…

Doctor Quack

When I turned twenty, I was under the impression that life was going to be a party for the next ten years. I was sorely mistaken. You see… I was warned about a couple things: my metabolism will decrease, I’ll get fatter, academic work will get harder, I’ll have to pay taxes; but there are a lot of things no one warned me about.

So I have written this list, projecting my personal experiences onto my fellow twenty-something friends and colleagues who are themselves possibly struggling with the same things I struggle with in this deeply confusing decade we call our twenties.

1. Twenties are the new teens.

People in their thirties often tell me that the thirties are the new twenties, so what does that make us? Well, unfortunately, as if we didn’t already suffer enough in the confusing and disorienting teenage years, we have to do it all…

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