Karen Belz
March 30, 2014 8:00 am

I used to love SELF Magazine. On the occasion where I felt like I needed great exercise tips to jump-start a healthy routine, SELF was my #1 source of inspiration. Unfortunately, they did something pretty horrific, so I think my overall views might have changed a bit. It’s something that a lot of magazines have done, one way or another – and it needs to stop.

Back in 2013, Monika Allen chose to run the LA marathon with a friend shortly after she was diagnosed with brain cancer. During the race, she was going through chemotherapy, which is pretty draining. Monika ran the race with the support of Glam Runner, a company that makes and sells running tutus. Sure, you might not think running and tutus go together like peanut butter and jelly, but Monika looked absolutely adorable in hers, and made it work. Plus, participants deserve to up the fun-factor by representing themselves however they choose, right?

SELF got a photo of Monika in her cute garb, and asked her for permission to run it. Figuring it had nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with running a marathon, she approved. SELF didn’t exactly tell Monika the context of which the image would appear, but – for a fitness magazine, I’m sure one would assume that their core focus would strictly be the miraculous amount of exercise.

That, unfortunately, wasn’t the case. Close to her photo, SELF published the following: “A racing tutu epidemic has struck NYC’s Central Park, and it’s all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster. Now, if you told us they made people run away from you faster, maybe we would believe it.”

Really, SELF? Even if she wasn’t diagnosed with something, it’s quite unfortunate to focus solely on how an athlete chooses to dress. It takes a lot of practice and willpower to participate, and your photos should truly inspire your readers to train for similar events, instead of alienating the one who do.

Think about all of the magazines that are quick to post photos of women “doing it wrong”. It should never be a source of entertainment to mock others over how they express themselves. For example, how degrading must it feel for a celebrity to attend an event in which they’re in the running for a prestigious award, just to find themselves on the “worst dressed” list the next day? If two celebrities happened to wear the same outfits, is it really newsworthy to poll America and figure out “who wore it best”? Does it change anyone’s lives for the better, or is it just a low-grade form of bullying?

For example, check out a slideshow from Glamour magazine, called “27 Cringeworthy Fashion Don’ts”. In it, women’s eyes have been blocked out as a non-clever way to “protect the innocent.”

In one slide, a woman looks to be getting ready to jump into the ocean – her cutoff shorts are unbuttoned, and she looks to be putting her hair up in a pony tail. She was quickly dismissed by the fashion gurus based on “Too Tiny Cutoffs”. “Cutoff shorts are a summer standby, but they should always have more fabric than your bikini bottom,” Segal wrote. So tell me, Lindy – what is acceptable to wear at the beach while I’m on vacation with my family? Since obviously, my main goal is to attract the attention of others, who’ll see how uptight I am about wearing the “right” kind of cover-up for America’s liking. Yikes.

Slide 11 is obviously Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake in matching denim, from a billion years ago. “This was the moment music’s golden couple jumped the shark. How can two people get past this denim disaster?” Lindy wrote. Ironically, as the slideshow was created last year, she knew exactly how two people got past the denim disaster. They stopped focusing on what they wore one time, a full decade ago. What’s the point of bringing it up again?

If anything, this is just sending a message that women need to be hyperfocused on how they look at all times. Imagine if you threw some clothes on to go to the grocery store, later to find a picture of your face blurred out since the fashion police happened to be there?

Magazines should try and stop focusing on bringing other women down – even if it’s subtle, it’s still unnecessary. And it hurts the most with SELF, who often promote themselves as a magazine that helps better the lives of women – while simultaneously having a column called “BS Meter”, which is their way of pointing out “what’s legit and what’s lame”.

Despite SELF editor-in-chief Lucy Danzinger addressing the situation and trying to do some damage control, I still find it hard to believe that the comments were printed in the first place. Bullying other women on what they’re wearing, especially if it’s not offensive to anyone, makes us look like we haven’t evolved since middle school. It’s never about the clothes, but about the confidence – and tearing others apart, especially with images that are completely out of context, is something we have to try and fight against. It just sends the message out that these types of judgments are okay, when they’re not.

I think I can speak for everyone at HelloGiggles in saying that we absolutely applaud Monika for running, especially under circumstances that might have made it extra difficult to do so, and truly wish the best for her recovery. Despite what SELF might say, the smile on her face proves that she was doing everything right during her marathon. Hopefully other magazines will take note of this mistake, and realize that judging other women by the way they choose to express themselves isn’t the form of “entertainment” that women today find to be helpful or amusing.

Image Credits: Featured, Screencap from NBC7

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