I’ve allowed myself to cool off a bit before writing this one. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a little insight. ESPN reporter Britt McHenry was caught on camera berating a towing company clerk. At one point she was even fully aware that she was on camera when she continued to belittle the clerk saying things like, “maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me here too, huh?” and “that’s why I have a degree and you don’t.” She went on and on degrading the clerk’s appearance, intelligence and dug so deep it made the woman seek such vengeance to expose the video. (Two wrongs don’t make a right, but this isn’t about the clerk’s part in this. I’ll address that later.)
For now, McHenry has since been suspended from ESPN for one week, and apologized soon after stating, “In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.”
So here’s an open letter to Britt Britt from my friend Jackie whose Facebook status about this issue hit right on the head of the matter…
Dear Miss McHenry,
My name is Jackie Tinsley. You don’t know who I am. I’m not on TV, but I do have all of my teeth and a Bachelor’s Degree so I’m hoping those credentials satisfy you enough to continue reading this. Saw your video, along with the rest of the country and you know what’s coming. I will admit you’re gorgeous. You’re clearly a beauty queen or something. But after seeing the way you treated a stranger in her place of work, I was reminded that physical beauty is in no way associated with the beauty within a person’s heart. We all have our bad days where we want to completely lose it at times, but it’s how we handle ourselves in those exact moments that speaks volumes about our character, integrity and overall inner beauty. I truly hope your younger viewers who may have looked up to you as a role model can clearly decipher between inner and outer beauty; having a pretty face or the perfect body is just a bonus to one’s own inner beauty; being a good person and knowing how to conduct yourself in moments of adversity is what matters most. Thank you for so clearly illustrating that point.
Jackie’s thoughts really resonate with me, (and probably with millions of other women and men). Look, no one, including myself, is sitting here pretending to never have had a meltdown. We have all said or done things that we are NOT proud of, and luckily for us it wasn’t all caught on camera. We all try to ‘choose the highroad’…but yeah, sometimes we do let our emotions get the best of us.
Surely there are always two sides to every story and it is indeed possible that the clerk herself was being difficult and inappropriate. But it doesn’t make it any better or worse to verbally attack someone by body slamming (haven’t we seen enough of this amongst women by now?) or poke fun at their level of education. You don’t know their story. Your words can hurt more than you think. And as someone in the public eye, you have a responsibility to use your status to be a leader. Scratch that, we ALL have a responsibility to be leaders. To have courage and be kind even when we don’t always feel like it – that’s a boss right there.
Regardless of the fact that McHenry twitter-apologizes for her actions, she never TRULY says sorry to the woman directly. She’s sorry she was caught on camera and embarrassed publicly, but not sorry for her actions or how she made the clerk feel. Kindness is a virtue. The kind and classy thing to do would be to apologize directly rather than publicly.
Likewise, the kind and classy thing to do now is to forgive you. So I want you to know that I forgive you. On behalf of “women on TV” everywhere, I forgive you for that statement.
And on that note, it’s all the more bothersome how you pulled out the whole “I’m on TV” thing anyway. Oh Britt, it’s not thaaat cool and probably not the best time to point that out either. It definitely doesn’t make you any better of a person. What a person does professionally does not factor in to the quality of their heart.
This instance made me look at beautiful women who appear to have it all…dream jobs, physical beauty, amazing experiences… it means NOTHING without a beautiful heart to back it up. No expensive college education or fancy car or amount of money in the world can mean more than a beautiful heart. How we love and serve others is what makes a person beautiful.
The Wave is all about starting something big. All it takes is one small idea, or concept or even a person to cause a wave of change in the world. As I am most certain you are familiar, Britt, in an arena, all it takes is one person to start the wave and before you know it, the entire room is participating. I hope the same thing happens here. I hope this experience propels you forward and you find yourself genuinely promoting inner beauty and spreading kindness onto perfect strangers, because you never truly know what others are battling. Oh, the power of words.
Practice kindness now. Change your thoughts and verbiage. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:18
Would you like your darkest moments to be captured on video forever? If not, rethink your words now before anyone has the chance to press record.
“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3