Co-authored by Dan R. Morris
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article titled, "Cancer of Not, When Did Making Fun of Each Other Become OK?" In it, I wrote about the cool (and awesome and inspiring and motivating and insert any other totally empowering adjective) tutu runners Monika and Tara. I wrote about how Self Magazine made fun of them and then kind of apologized to Monika stating they didn't know she had cancer and never would have ran the article if they had known.
That inspired the title.
Cancer shouldn't be an excuse for poor behavior.
We simply shouldn't make fun of each other to make money.
As the weeks have passed, I've been blessed to get to know Monika and Tara more. Tara has shared with me how she's trained, cried, ran, given and kept going. Running. And yet, she really was lost in the whole fiasco. Where was her apology? Why weren't we looking at them as two women who were empowered to look at the challenges of life and instead of dwelling in the difficulties were running together? Why didn't we celebrate the power of working together and supporting each other?
Why was it the tearing down?
Why is cutthroat more profitable than sincerity?
This isn't the first time Self's editor, Lucy Danziger, has had to address a Self folly. In 2009, the mag landed in hot water after running a Photoshopped image of Kelly Clarkson on its cover. After getting flack for the digitally-slimmed Clarkson, Danziger wrote a post on Self.com admitting to Photoshopping, but stood by its decision. "Yes. Of course we do retouching," she wrote. "Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best."
That is what is tearing us down, making us self-conscious... poisoning the team. Yes, team. Tearing each other down fragments us as a culture, a team of women.
When Tara wrote me to talk about her experience as the "other tutu" girl, the first thing she mentioned was being excited that her photo was going to be in Self Magazine and then feeling duped and dejected when it was in the BullShit Column. Can you imagine that? She sent in one of their most empowering pictures, that moment of victory, that feeling of success to a magazine. Then, the magazine came, and it was the exact opposite.
It's the dagger in the back moment.
The fact that Self Magazine removed its editor is something our society does as a Band-Aid. Someone had to be responsible, so they got rid of an editor. But the editor wasn't the problem. The culture of the magazine, the culture of beauty... that's part of the issue.
We don't hold ourselves accountable for any of this. Why are we buying magazines that touch up photos in that way? That feeling we had when we supported the tutu girls.. why does it fade so quickly?
Look at Monika and Tara. Running together. Supporting each other. Believing in each other. Challenging each other to do more. Not quitting. Holding each other up when they feel like stopping. Laughing and crying and pushing each other to do more. Sending in their picture to a magazine hoping that it will inspire others? (And you know what? It truly has inspired not just several, but millions and millions, despite the angst that should never have happened.)
You know what Self Magazine did right? They are getting rid of the BS column altogether (of course, not till after the next issue... can't do something powerful at the expense of profits.) But they are doing it.
That matters. No more BS. More real.
I'd like to see all women's magazines take one more step.
Pledge to show grace.
Pledge to exude empathy.
Pledge to change the culture.
Pledge to build up.
Pledge to encourage.
Pledge to see the good.
Pledge to be part of this Happiness Ripple that Tara describes. The Happiness Ripple? That's the result. That's the good that came from the angst, the pain, the dagger in the back. That was women standing up and saying "enough". That was men standing up and saying enough.
Can we pledge to be empowering first?
I ask you to take a stand for the tutu girls today. Go on Facebook. Go to your email inbox. Go to your phone. Find someone you know who's been hurt and slighted and tell them you understand. If you hurt them, apologize. Share happiness first. Empower each other. Be kind. Be good to others.
And you know what? Stop supporting companies that don't make us better. And support those who do.
Thank you, Tara and Monika, for trusting me with your story. Thank you for being inspiring. Thank you for making those tutus. thank you for being women that empower each other. Thank you for being real. By the way, Tara told me the coolest part is this Happiness Ripple that she's seen from this. Light outshines darkness. Good prevails.
To read Tara's response please go to It Could Be Worse.
All images are courtesy of Monika Allen and Tara Baeze.