A Canadian news anchor has been applauded for her epic on-air response to a body-shamer who asked if she’s pregnant.
Leslie Horton, 59, is a traffic reporter with Global News Morning Calgary. She was giving her usual traffic report on November 27 when she took the opportunity to address a negative email she received from a viewer earlier that day.
“I’m just going to respond to an email that I just got saying: ‘Congratulations on your pregnancy,’” Horton said on-air, as she stood in front of the studio’s green screen. “If you’re gonna wear old bus driver pants then you have to expect emails like this,” the message read.
“So, thanks for that,” she replied sarcastically. Horton then spoke directly to the body-shamer for criticising her outfit choice.
“No, I’m not pregnant. I actually lost my uterus to cancer last year,” Horton said. “This is what women of my age look like. So, if it is offensive to you, that is unfortunate.”
She concluded her on-air message: “Think about the emails that you send.”
A clip of her expert response was recently shared to X, formerly known as Twitter, where it went viral with 2.2m views. Since then, Horton has been praised for publicly shutting down body-shaming comments.
“You are so outstanding @global_leslie,” CBC News reporter Devin Heroux wrote on X, in response to the clip. “What a classy response to an otherwise lame and rude email. And an important reminder about the words we use and the things we write. Keep kicking a**!”
“This is how you stand up to BS misogynistic comments,” another person shared.
“What a thoughtful response by Leslie and information she never needed to share, but did because of crass bullying,” a third user chimed in. “Be better - and remember that you never know what people are going through. Power to Leslie.”
Another person took the opportunity to call out the industry double standards that women face, especially when they’re in front of the camera. “This is a strong woman. It’s amazing how much feedback women who work on air get - about their hair, their clothes, the way they look, the way they talk. We don’t see the same feedback for men,” they said. “These are professionals just trying to do their jobs.”
Speaking to Today, Horton revealed she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2020 and subsequently underwent a hysterectomy. “I had a radical hysterectomy, which means they don’t just take your uterus, they take everything - and it immediately impacts the shape of your body,” Horton told the outlet on 6 December.
Horton, who has an 18-year-old daughter, explained that the man who criticised her appearance was a “regular viewer” who was “very likely” aware she battled cancer, considering she shared health updates with her viewers after her diagnosis. “He’s reached out several times over the years, and his intent is always to humiliate and hurt me,” Horton said. “We’re not supposed to respond to trolls - so I had no plans to address it, but then the words just came out of my mouth. I had this visceral reaction.”
Horton said that her male colleagues are “horrified” by the emails her female co-anchors receive, but they don’t get hateful messages about their appearance.
“Maybe I was responding to the pregnancy, no uterus, cancer thing,” Horton said. “Or maybe it’s just the fact that I’m tired female broadcasters - and women in general - are being treated this way. And I would say it hit a nerve because I’ve received thousands of messages from people - men and women - saying: ‘Good for you. This is not right and it needs to stop.’”
Not only did Horton maintain that she will “continue wearing the pants” on-air, but she also won’t stop being unapologetically herself on television. “I will continue wearing the pants, and I will continue going on TV because you telling me I’m old, ugly and fat doesn’t change the way I feel about myself,” she said, adding: “I also believe that your local news station should reflect your community, and guess what? There are other 59-year-old women out there!”
The Independent has contacted Horton for comment.
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