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Rachel M. Martin Headshot

Cancer or Not, When Did Making Fun of Each Other Become OK?

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I'm sure you've seen the pictures on Facebook. If not, you will. You see, there is this awesome runner, Monika Allen, running in a tutu with a Wonder Woman shirt on and a tiara next to her friend in a tutu and a Superman shirt. It's a cool picture -- a picture celebrating the tenacity and power of women. And it was used by Self Magazine to poke fun at runners who run in tutus. Little did Self know that they picked on a cancer survivor, a runner, a fighter and a woman who, well, deserves respect like all women do.

Well, she fought back.

Self Magazine apologized.

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Truth?

They should have never even run the article. (Read the news report here.)

Never. It doesn't even matter that they're apologizing because she has cancer. The article and the picture should not have been run. They should have had the moment of discernment sitting in the editing room looking at that picture and the caption placed underneath it and wondered, does this empower women? Encourage them?

It doesn't build up.

It tears down.

I read the emails from you all. Emails about worrying about not measuring up and feeling alone and dealing with this tremendous pressure put on you as mothers. Worries about school, activities, preschool, if you're doing enough, if you are making a difference, about the pressures of pinterest, or the highlight reels of facebook, of relationships that don't make the Hallmark channel, anxieties over this or that and more.

Then this. An article that isolates a woman. An article that takes women running in tutus and belittles them. Makes them feel like they're not enough. Not worthy. Something to be made fun of. When did making fun of each other become OK? When did that become the solution in an editorial office for a corner of a magazine?

And yet, yet there is another image of a tutu that is deemed beautiful. Powerful by culture. It's of this man wearing a tutu, and just a tutu, standing in the snow doing a ballet pose. For his wife. Who had cancer. And he loved her and wanted to show his love to her. So he stood in a tutu and took pictures, beautiful pictures because of the depth of love in them, and the world cheered.

We can't pick and choose.

Making fun of women running in tutus is not okay. And it divides. Tears down.

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Or it could have.

And yet, yet it hasn't. It's made women on fire. It has made men on fire. Defending her. Defending other women. Writing Self Magazine and asking what were you thinking? Deciding that enough is enough. It made me write -- to take my own platform -- and write that this is enough.

It's enough, women, it's enough.

I've dealt with it.

I've dealt with passive women. I've dealt with women who are mean and not encouraging. They can suck the life from you if you let them. They can make you look at yourself and make you wonder what is wrong with me? They may not respect you, may go out of their way to let others know that they don't think you're anything, and they can zing at you. If you let them. That's the truth.

It's the same for you.

It's the same for Monika Allen.

She was used by a magazine and mocked. Not built up.

Listen.

We need to be a culture of women that supports each other -- tutu or not -- cancer or not.

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There's too much jealousy, competition and passivity between women. But, I tell you, what happens if all of our extras -- the homes, the convenience stores, the Targets, the schools with their SmartBoards, the Starbucks and all of that stuff -- went away? What then? Will we care that one of us is friends with that person or that our child has the coolest clothes or that our home is always perfect?

I think not.

I think then we will instead come together helping each other survive and we will not care about externals.

Why not now?

We have an opportunity.

You have an opportunity.

You and I and all the women have this opportunity right here, right now to look at the women in the room with you at work or at preschool or at church or at Target or in the parking lot waiting for kids to leave school and you have the opportunity to not judge, but rather to love. You can choose to not whisper to others about another. You can choose to not make judgements. You can choose to rise above. And you can choose, just as I have, to not allow passivity, meanness and words and actions that do not empower or build up have an bearing on self.

That's the real self. Learning to be confident in who you are so that you have no need to bash another to build yourself up.

Imagine if Self Magazine had shown love and support instead? If they had embraced the uniqueness, individuality and power that those tutus represented? If they had chosen to not make fun, but to celebrate the power of the human spirit and the individuality and uniqueness that those women demonstrated?

Today would be a different story.

Hating. Mocking. Passivity. Making fun of each other. All of that for gain that is only temporary and it really only hurts those that do it.

We are strong.

We are women who need to love, support, encourage, come alongside and believe in each other. Maybe it's just a smile or an 'I believe in you' statement or even walking into a friend's house and rolling up your sleeves and working alongside them on a hard day. Maybe it's a hug or a note or not deciding to judge. Maybe it's seeing that other women as the beautiful person worthy of respect, love and friendship. Maybe it's sitting in the editorial room and thinking that today we're going to empower each other, tutu or not.

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Let's not settle and become a generation of women who uses the other for gain.

Let's be a generation of women who empower each other.

All that angst over a tutu.

See the person.

That's real change.

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