SELF Magazine obtained permission from a runner in the most recent L.A. Marathon to use a photo of her crossing the finish line in a Wonder Woman tutu.
The photo ran in SELF’s “BS Meter” section, a column that operated like a group of mean girls. The monthly column judged whether something was “legit” or “lame.” Ms. Allen’s tutu was judged lame by “SELF”-proclaimed experts. If you’ve ever raced, watched from the sidelines, or seen photos of races, you know that lots of runners rock the tutu. But even if you aren’t a fan of this fitness fashion statement, why judge and begrudge someone’s fun?
But they only meant to poke fun, right?
As it turned out, the runner wearing the Wonder Woman tutu happened to be Monika Allen. She is the owner of Glam Runner, a company that makes tutus for runners and supports the youth organization, Girls on the Run. She is also a brain cancer survivor. After the story surfaced, SELF agreed that it was hurtful. The magazine moved the conversation forward by apologizing and going so far as to cancel the BS Meter column. Did it do so because of publicity and pressure? Maybe. Probably. But why isn’t that also a good thing? It allowed for a positive lesson to be more widely disseminated, a lesson that is important to consider and revisit.
In their book Angel Words, Doreen Virtue and Grant Virtue describe being astounded by the visual evidence they discovered while recording podcasts in a computer program that positive words (e.g., admiration) made much larger visual representations than did negative words (e.g., jealousy). In fact, the word “angel” is actually shaped like angel wings! In this engaging book (with a cover so lovely I bought an actual book rather than downloading it to my Kindle), the authors explore the power of speech by examining it visually, anecdotally, historically, philosophically, spiritually, and scientifically. It’s an interesting and enlightening read.
Most of us don’t make it out of this lifetime without saying something that hurts someone else. The best we can do is to practice kindness in word and deed. And when we get it wrong, because sometimes we will get it wrong, we can only make it right the best way we can and make it a practice to do better next time.
It seems to me that poking fun at someone is more about poking and less about fun. What say you?
To the extent that this post looks even a little bit like a tutu and/or book review, it is totally unsolicited and unpaid. Moreover, although I linked to Glam Runner and Amazon, I do not receive any compensation if you buy a tutu or a book there (or elsewhere). I have policies about reviews, you know, because this joint is a serious operation with policies and official legal language.
As an aside, I am wondering if Glam Runner sells any sort of themed tutus that would work for me as I am pushed across the finish line in my grandson’s stroller eating a Gibson Girl ice cream sundae in the Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon in January.
There’s still time! You have until 11:59 PM PDT on August 20th to enter to win an autographed copy of Kicks Like a Girl! And until 11:59 PM PDT on September 3rd to enter to be one of eight lucky readers to participate in an online book club with the author, Melissa Westemeier! Check it out! CLICK RIGHT HERE!