SELF Mag in Trouble for Mocking Cancer Survivor’s Tutu


Magazines have to apologize too. Last week SELF landed itself in hot water thanks to what we’ll call overeager editorializing on the fashion front.

Here’s the deal: Monika Allen of San Diego loves running. Her team Glam Runner loves tutus. When she got a request from SELF to feature a picture of her running in the recent Los Angeles marathon, she was flattered. Who wouldn’t be?

The problem: the reason SELF wanted her picture was to mock her outfit. Did we mention that Allen is a cancer survivor whose marathon occurred in the midst of her chemo treatment?

Check out the offending blurb:

First: does anyone really think tutus make you run faster? Second: what constitutes an “epidemic”? Third: bitchy!

Of course the story quickly blew up, receiving local and national media coverage on both coasts. Then came the apologies. First, the magazine issued a statement that we’ll call “terse” to the local NBC affiliate:

“[We apologize] for the association of her picture in any way other than to support her efforts to be healthy.”

Of course if tutus make you run with a smile on your face or with a sense of purpose or community, then they are indeed worth wearing, for any race.”

Hmm. Editor-in-chief Lucy Danzinger went a step further, responding to the Facebook uproar with both a supportive tweet and a more apologetic statement to USA Today.

“I am personally mortified. 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.”

She followed at EOD Friday with a post detailing her follow-up conversation with Allen. The interview concerns Allen’s condition and her charity Girls on the Run, and it begins with a mea culpa:

“The item should never have run, and we have since decided to discontinue the page. You will not see it after the May issue of SELF.”

Commentors weren’t having it, though. It’s particularly unfortunate that many classified the piece as “such a superficial, PR lead, and messed up ‘apology.'”

What would you advise Danzinger to do next?

[Ed. note: as a fellow brain tumor survivor I do find this story irritating, and there’s no acceptable way to make jokes at Allen’s expense. But I’m also disappointed in SELF’s editorial standards in using a picture taken in Los Angeles to bemoan an abundance of tutus in Central Park.]