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Yes, I work on TV but don't expect me to be your role model

IT IS a universal truth that when you're on television, you're subjected to scrutiny about your appearance. It is also true, that this is mostly, but not exclusively, an issue for women.

I once told a pal that I was regularly weighed in work. She believed me for a minute. But the joke threw up a fascinating insight into what she thought was the reality about television and working in it.

Yes, it's a visual medium. And your 'look' as a news anchor is important. 'Look' not 'looks'. You've got to look professional and not distracting. You can't possibly read the news with a dog collar as a necklace and expect people to listen to what's coming out of your mouth.

It used to be that practically everyone on television was slim. Flick on the box now and thankfully you'll see a better representation of human physique. Skinny, overweight and wrinkly. Real. Let's not fool ourselves; there's still plenty of babes. But at least TV bosses have copped that viewers want 'real.'

This week, Jill Livingston, a news anchor in Wisconsin in the US, went on the attack live

on television following an email from a viewer, suggesting that she should rethink her TV role because she was overweight.

The emailer said that it was her responsibility to promote a healthy lifestyle. Eh, actually it's not. Her sole responsibility is to excel at her job, bringing viewers news and conducting interviews impartially.

The news anchor took the opportunity to take the personal attack and turn it into a positive anti-bullying message, inadvertently becoming an extremely positive role model for women and children.

Any presenter on TV will tell you that we all get emails and letters from viewers. Some have a personal story behind a headline you read. Others are clarifying a report.

Some correspondence is excessively complimentary and some are personally offensive.

You have to wonder about anyone who has the time or inclination to compose an email about why they don't like your hair.

But the truth is that a lot of women and men, whether they work in television or not, would like to lose weight, would like great hair and do wonder about their appearance. We believe we are one size away from being happier and more successful.

God, can we change the record, please? Can we focus on things other than appearance?

Jill, please don't sell out and lose weight rapidly and dangerously, followed by diet pill endorsement, a fitness DVD, pile it all back on and sob to viewers about how you are disgusted with yourself.

You are the positive role model for the children you spoke about in your rebuttal. Stay that way.


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