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Real life “Mary Jane” Demetria Obilor sets example for women of all shapes, sizes and shades

“Traffic bae” is a living Mary Jane Paul.

Actress Gabrielle Union says Demetria Obilor is the real life Mary Jane, the strong and successful African American TV reporter Union plays on BET’s hit show “Being Mary Jane. Playing the character for four seasons Union definitely see’s Obilor in her character.

“Sending love, light and support to Dallas News Anchor Demetria Obilor who was recently body shamed online. YOU are the real life Mary Jane… A go-getter news anchor who dresses DOPE and doesn’t give a s*** what everyone else thinks,” Union posted on Instagram. “Keep on kicking ass and taking names queen. We love you just the way you are! And since you slay everything you wear, I’m sending you a bunch of pieces from my @nyandcompany collection and some credit for extra pieces.”

When Obilor became a target for cyber bullying earlier this month she used the opportunity to spark a conversation on body image. Known as “traffic bae” Obilor relocated from a Las Vegas newscast to Dallas to become WFAA-TV’s traffic reporter last month. While introduced to a new audience one troll posted a body shaming hate post on Facebook threatening to boycott the news outlet for hiring her Obilor and the post went viral last week. Obilor spoke out against the incident to help those dealing with body shaming. She’s not alone as many have come to her defense in addition to Union including Chance the Rapper and National Association of Black Journalists.

The hate post that went viral was from a white woman named Jan Shedd.

“Has anyone seen channel 8’s new morning traffic reporter? Her name is Demetria Obilor & she’s a size 16/18 woman in a size 6 dress and she looks ridiculous. 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. I’m not going to watch Channel 8 anymore,” Shedd posted.

Responding to the viral post Obilor posted a video talking about the cyber bullying.

“The controversy is coming from people who are too happy with the way that I look on television saying ‘oh, her body is too big for that dress or she’s too curvy. Her hair is unprofessional, its crazy, we don’t like it.’ A quick word to those people, this is the way that I’m built,” Obilor said. “When you look a little different people think it’s okay to talk to you a little different.”

While addressing the trolls she showed her gratitude to those who came to her defense.

“I’m forever grateful for everybody, people who I don’t even know, who come to my defense,” Obilor said.

One of the organizations that has come to her defense was National Association of Black Journalists and its president, Sarah Glover.

“The negative comments lodged at Demetria Obilor are very disturbing. The rhetoric is classic cyberbullying and the undertones are hurtful and demeaning,” Glover said in a press release last Monday. “We hope that employers abhor this kind of harassment and online hate when they see it, support their employees, and cultivate diversity and inclusiveness.

“This is an issue for all women and we encourage others to speak up and say ‘no more cyberbullying.’ Demetria has our support and we stand with her and all women who are being victimized and body shamed.”

As Obilor was the target in this instance this is an issue bigger than her, Obilor said on WFAA-TV addressing the issue last Monday.

“This isn’t the first time body shaming has happened and it’s not going to be the last,” Obilor said. “What I’m thinking about are the girls…your children that are going to be going through the same sorts of things. For a long time you didn’t see curvier people on television…we should be reaching out embracing.”

A week after addressing the issue publicly Obilor continues to keep her head high doing what she loves. Never afraid to be herself whether its through the way she talks, looks or dresses, she’s as confident as ever. Her tweet Monday says it all.

“So, watch how you speak on my name, ya know!!! 💯💯,” Obilor tweeted along with two photos of herself doing work in the studio.

By Gino Terrell

Originally published in MCXV.


Gino Terrell is the Director of Content at Hidden Valley Culture Blog/In-Depth section. Terrell covered local artists and reviewed mainstream shows in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area under the Twin Cities Daily Planet (2014-15). He also freelanced for MinnPost and interned at Pioneer Press, KSTP TV (the Minneapolis ABC News Affiliate) and American Public Media Group. He's accumulated over 30 awards from the Associated Collegiate Press, Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists and founded award winning student-magazine Pipers In-Depth at Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota). He was once the sports editor for the school newspaper, The Oracle. Follow him on Twitter: @Gin026

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