Fox News meteorologist with 'distracting' legs responds to body shamer

Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean didn’t let a hateful Facebook comment ruin her day — she fired back at a viewer who complained her legs were “distracting” — with a body-positive message.

On Monday, Dean, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), shared the comment on her Facebook page from a viewer named JoAnn, writing, “Here’s some of the fun compliments I get on my Facebook page.”

“Dear Janice please stop allowing fox to dress you in those short skirts,” read the now-deleted comment. “They are not flattering on you. Your an attractive lady, love the 80’s hair, but your legs are distracting every time you walk on screen.”

When Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who has multiple sclerosis, was body-shamed, she fired back. (Photo: Courtesy of Fox News)
When Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who has multiple sclerosis, was body-shamed, she fired back. (Photo: Courtesy of Fox News)

The mother of two also posted her response: “Hi JoAnn, Fox doesn’t dress me. I dress myself. I’m sorry if you don’t like my legs. I’m grateful I have them to walk with. You’re right. I don’t look like the typical person on TV, and I’m proud to be a size 10. Imagine that! You can always turn the channel if you’re offended by my huge legs. Hope you don’t mind. I may share your post with everyone on my FB page. All the best, Janice.”

Here's some of the fun compliments I get on my FACEBOOK page:Dear Janice please stop allowing fox to dress you in…

Posted by Janice Dean on Monday, January 8, 2018

Dean’s post was celebrated with 4K likes and more than 2K comments. “How heartless and cruel!” wrote a Facebook supporter. “I suffered all my childhood and early teens with being fat and full metal braces so I can relate to the name calling and verbal abuse a the hands of family as well as total strangers! I am 65 now and we must remember what you say may be forgotten, but how you made them feel never will.”

Another fan added, “Janice, My wife has had MS for almost 20 years. I cannot tell you the kind of ugly that would rain down from me if someone had put forth critical comments directed toward her or her physique. Bless you for being strong and being the bigger person. Continued success in your fight against this terrible disease.”

Dean responded to her followers by writing in the comments section, “Well now I’m in tears. Who knew a post sharing something disparaging about my legs would make me feel so good. Thank you all for being so kind. I truly am proud of my big strong legs. One day they may give out on me, but for now they help me walk, stand, jump, kick with the Rockettes and make snow angels. I am blessed. Thank you all for reminding me of that.”

“Most people in my profession have a thick skin, but, I admit that I don’t,” Dean tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I was bullied as a kid for my curvy body and I took it to heart. But at 47, I’m comfortable with how I look and I wanted to address this comment from the perspective of someone who is proud of her body. I needed to stand up for myself, literally and figuratively.”

Fox News anchor Janice Dean confronted a female viewer who criticized her legs. (Photo: Courtesy of Fox News)
Fox News anchor Janice Dean confronted a female viewer who criticized her legs. (Photo: Courtesy of Fox News)

Dean adds that she felt compelled to respond to JoAnn with a direct question: “Why would you say that? I am proud to be a size-10. I don’t look like everyone else but I’m proud to stand on two legs,” to which JoAnn replied that the anchor should “learn to take constructive criticism” and that her job might be in jeopardy because she’s “middle-aged.”

In 2014, Dean wrote an opinion piece for Fox titled, “Yes, I have MS — my life with Multiple Sclerosis,” in which she shared her 2005 diagnosis. MS is a disease of the central nervous system that causes fatigue, vision, cognitive, and walking problems. While working long hours reporting on Hurricane Katrina, Dean experienced her first episode, which entailed waking up with numbness in her feet and legs. Her doctor, suspecting it might be MS, urged her to see a neurologist — “I thought she was crazy. MS? Isn’t that the wheelchair disease?” — and scans showed lesions on Dean’s brain and spine and a protein specific to MS.

“In 2007, now formally diagnosed after a few relatively mild exacerbations, I decided that I would talk about my diagnosis in order to help others like me who had the disease,” wrote Dean. “It’s never been my goal to be the poster girl for MS, but I do feel called to be someone who can help others identify, and live with, the disease.”

She added, “I’m not lying to you when I say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I believe part of the reason I am so happy is that I learned almost 10 years ago that your life can change in an instant.”

This week, while speaking with Moneyish, Dean recalled her experience being body-shamed while working for the controversial radio host Don Imus. “On a daily basis, on and off air, he would comment that I was fat” or that they should hire a personal trainer, she said. “He brought in a trainer one time on air and said, ‘Stand up. She needs to get rid of that … her hips and her butt.’ I was just so ashamed. So ashamed.”

“That stays with you and brings you back to when you’re in school and bullied for the same thing. “I’ve always been conscious about what body part I’d like to change, but I’m comfortable in that I know what I’m good at. I want to say to young girls, ‘It’s OK to be yourself, to show who you are.’”

One silver lining from this experience, Dean tells Yahoo Lifestyle, is the support she’s received from all over the country: “One internet troll brought out the true goodness in people.”

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