[UPDATE: Following a relentless wave of damaging backlash, Self magazine has decided to discontinue its monthly BS Meter page. In an online interview with Monika Allen that the magazine published late on the evening of 3/28, they said, “You will not see it after the May issue of Self.”]
Granted they didn’t know she had cancer, but that’s really not the point.
Monika Allen, co-founder of Glam Runner, which produces and sells tutus to runners to help fundraise for Girls on the Run San Diego, found herself on the pages of Self magazine’s BS Meter, a column that showcases trends that are “legit” and others that fall “lame.”
Self sent out a call-to-action to readers, asking for photos of women running in flouncy skirts. It wasn’t made clear what the photos were going to be used for, so Monika, hoping to promote her Glam Runner cause, dutifully sent in a pic. Glam Runner has raised about $5,600 for the program by making 2,000 tutus over the past three years.
Little did she know that the photo, which shows Monika and her friend donning tutus and superhero t-shirts, would end up the butt of a joke. The image ran on the magazine’s BS Meter page with the text:
“A racing tutu epidemic has struck NYC’s Central Park, and it’s all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster,” the caption reads. “Now, if you told us they made people run from you faster, maybe we would believe it.”
What Self didn’t know is that Monika was running her first marathon since receiving a brain cancer diagnosis, and was in the middle of chemotherapy treatment. She was sporting the sassy running costume to boost her own confidence to keep on running.
When realizing their horrible blunder, Self editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger first released this comment… leaving us less than impressed:
“I am personally mortified,” Danziger told USA Today. “I had no idea that Monika had been through cancer. It was an error. It was a stupid mistake. We shouldn’t have run the item…” Danziger apologized “for the association of her picture in any way other than to support her efforts to be healthy.”
OK, let us break this down a bit… the magazine, whose motto is “Being fit, strong and active means feeling great, being happy and looking your most beautiful,” is apologizing because they didn’t know Monika had cancer. So, it’s ok then to bash women who want to feel great and be happy running in tutu’s if they don’t have cancer? Why is a magazine that is supposed to be encouraging women to be their best SELF, doing exactly the opposite?
Clearly after consulting with her PR team, Ms. Danziger has now released this official statement:
“On behalf of Self, we sincerely apologize for our inadvertent insensitivity. I have personally reached out to Monika and her supporters online to apologize for the misstep and tell them we are trying to remedy the situation. At Self we support women such as Monika; she is an inspiration and embodies the qualities we admire. We have donated to her charity and have offered to cover her good work in a future issue. We wish her all the best on her road to good health.”
Better, but still not great. We’d like to see more from Self. First, starting with an apology for being out of touch and less than truthful in the magazine’s mission to inspire and encourage all women, no matter the circumstance. We’d also like to see a bold commitment to showcasing a larger diversity of women and their personal stories in the mags pages. And, while we’re at it, how about revising the BS Meter… use it as a power tool to call out brands, companies and people who are not supporting women?
At the moment Self remains on our BS Meter, let’s hope they can turn it around. We will be watching.