Thursday, March 27, 2014

My BS Meter is off the charts

One of the latest big controversies to hit Social Media in the Health & Fitness world: SELF Magazine makes fun of Cancer Survivor's Tutu.
SELF magazine contacted Monika for permission to use a picture of Monika and a friend wearing tutus during a Marathon. Monika said okay, thinking a magazine like SELF would be utilizing it for positive use. Sure, SELF does include sex, relationship and beauty material – but they also claim to provide health & fitness related material. A great picture of a woman running a marathon would surely constitute material worthy of making a healthy or fitness section in a magazine, and I imagine that is why Monika did not think to ask what, specifically, her photo would be used for. I am sure it never dawned on her to do so. (And it makes me really angry that they misled her that way).
So she was shocked when the issue came out with this:

That’s right. The SELF “B.S. Meter” says women wearing tutus in races is “lame”. It implies that we think wearing the tutus will make us faster.

NOW BACK THIS TUTU TRUCK UP. I have a lot of problems with this, but let’s start with the most basic.  Nobody…NOBODY….thinks wearing a tutu in a race will make them faster. That is not the purpose of the tutu in anybody’s mind. People wear tutus (and other various costumes) all the time, and you know why?  They do it to be silly. They do it because it makes them feel good and have a little fun while doing something active. They do it with a group of people to match or stand out. (See example below - this is a chapter of Moms RUN This Town who got festive for a holiday season race).

Women (and even some men) sometimes wear a tutu while running a race for various reasons, all of which are light hearted and ultimately, are of no matter. What really matters? The fact that they are out there, getting fresh air, getting exercise, enjoying themselves. I think it is incredibly crappy for anybody to call that “lame”.

As it is, it bugs me for magazines to tear women down for what they wear. I realize that is the industry, yadda, yadda, yadda. Also, I cannot claim to be perfect and that I have never judged somebody for superficial things. I try to do better, but I am human and it happens. But still, it’s jerky to do, and the jerk factor increases when you are doing it so publicly, and to a women (women) who are running a Marathon. DUDE. She was running a marathon.  I don’t care what you are wearing while doing it – it’s not lame, that’s fantastic and incredible.

So yeah, it bugs me. It would have bugged me (and plenty of other female, and even some male runners) no matter what. But unfortunately for SELF magazine, there is more to the story behind that picture.  Monika, whose name can be seen on her race bib, was undergoing chemotherapy for brain cancer when that picture was taken of her running a marathon. Her friend in the picture has “die tumor due” on her own race bib. Whoa. Running a marathon is amazing as it is – and she did it while fighting cancer. It was her first Marathon with brain cancer, and that is why they were wearing those outfits. Including those “lame tutus”.  Which, by the way, Monika makes and sells via her company, Glam Runner, and she donates her proceeds to a wonderful organization, Girls on the Run, which encourages young girls to exercise, be healthy, and supports them in developing self confidence and positive self esteem.

Oops. I do realize SELF probably did not realize Monika’s story when they saw and requested permission to use the photo. But they sure could have done themselves a huge favor by doing a little research on the picture (being the “die tumor die” on Monika’s friend’s race bib) or by asking Monika a few questions when they asked for permission to use that pic. If they had, they would have avoided a PR nightmare – and perhaps published a completely different piece in their article – a motivational, inspirational, and uplifting one!
As for the B.S. Meter? Methinks this move of SELF Magazine's is pretty high up there.

Edited to add: Since I wrote this post, SELF Magazine has posted an apology. Which is great, I guess. They say they have donated to Girls on the Run for Monika. Which is really great. And I am not sure what else anyone would expect them to do. It doesn't change the fact that they were completely out of line. It never should have happened - they should be empowering women on their healthy journeys, not putting them down for what they choose to wear, via a picture they requested permission to use but neglected to tell the owner that it would be used to make fun of her.



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  3. Doesn't sound like the best way to use a picture, hopefully the entire thing will blow over pretty quickly and SELF will hopefully learn from its mistakes. The women in the picture seem to be having fun so I don't see a problem with it.