WFAA anchor Demetria Obilor is working to make life easier for young girls
She’s doing it for the kids.
Dallas traffic reporter Demetria Obilor, whose response last week to an online body-shamer went viral, wants to bolster little girls unaccustomed to seeing women on television who look like them. “Life is hard as hell. This world is a tough place,” Obilor, 26, told Moneyish. “If we can do anything to make it easier for anyone, I think that’s a beautiful thing.”
Obilor, who put in three years at Las Vegas’ KLAS-TV before starting her on-air gig with ABC affiliate WFAA two weeks ago, woke up Friday from her post-morning shift nap to learn Chance the Rapper had tweeted about her. (So would Meghan McCain, daughter of Arizona Sen. John McCain, a day later.) Obilor soon discovered she’d been targeted in a viewer’s public, since-deleted Facebook post.
— Demetria Obilor (@DemetriaObilor) November 3, 2017
“She’s a size 16/18 woman in a size 6 dress and she looks ridiculous,” wrote viewer Jan Shedd. “I understand that when I watch Channel 8 I’m going to get biased reporting and political correctness, but clearly they have taken complete leave of their senses.”
The station encouraged her to respond to the incident. Amid a swell of support from indignant Twitter users — many of whom saw racial undertones in Shedd’s salvo — Obilor, the daughter of a plus-sized white mother and Nigerian father, issued a video response brimming with defiance and positivity: “This is the way that I’m built. This is the way that I was born. I’m not going anywhere, so if you don’t like it, you have your options,” she said, thanking “the people who show love.”
The inspiring way this badass traffic reporter responded to a body-shamer is a lesson to women everywhere https://t.co/bStQtl0ggq
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) November 6, 2017
Obilor — who, not that it matters, says she’s a size 6/8 — says she aims to “operate from a position of love and education.” “I know that there are a lot of people in the world who were brought up differently than me,” she said. “I’m not here to condemn (anybody); I’m here to educate.” As for whether Shedd’s comment was racially tinged, Obilor admitted she couldn’t speak for her: “I just know how it made me feel, and apparently it made a lot of other people feel the same way.”
The anchor is no stranger to racial microaggressions, recalling instances in which she was lauded for being “articulate” and criticized by a producer at a previous job for talking “too clubby.” (“People aren’t used to seeing minorities on television like that in certain markets,” she remarked.) In an email two years ago, one viewer expressed disgust at Obilor’s natural hairstyle and speculated it “must smell bad.”
“There’s a lot to this,” Obilor said. “We say ‘body-shaming,’ but it goes so much deeper. It’s culture-shaming, race-shaming, color-shaming.”
But the University of Kansas alum, who followed idol Oprah Winfrey’s career path into radio and local news, says she “never once doubted that I could accomplish my goals — because honestly, I just don’t believe that the rules apply to me.” People told her she’d never be on television with “hair like that.” “I heard it, didn’t give a s–t, and kept on pushing,” she said. “I don’t buy into those restrictions.”
The self-described “fighter” from inner-city Kansas City, Mo., finds strength in restraint, a lesson she learned from her father. “You have to pick your battles — if you fight every single battle, you are gonna be tired when that war comes around,” she recalled his words. “You don’t always have to be on the defense. And sometimes, when you feel like it’s the right time, it’s the right time.”
This time, Obilor decided, was the right time.
“I don’t know if I’ve changed someone’s complete standard of what beauty is, but I know that once you start to see more and more people like this, you have no choice but to accept it,” she said. “There’s a new norm that is created that should’ve already been there.”
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