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News & Insight

Major Magazine Mocks a Cancer Patient’s Tutu in Photo

By Leujay Cruz on March 27th 2014

We see. We like. We use.

Somebody stole your image from your website, your Facebook page or your Instagram. You received no credit and now the thief is positioned to financially benefit from your hard work.

Lately, we’ve seen this pattern all too much. But what if permission was granted and that someone was a major publication? The artist intrinsically builds the excitement. Anticipation settles in and then…

Your image is used for a completely different purpose than how you expected.

When Monika Allen ran the LA marathon, Monika and her friend were sporting tutus and superhero t-shirts. On her friend’s running bib it read, “Die Tumor Die”.

tutu+runners

Self magazine came across this image and contacted Monika for permission to use it in their publication. Monika agreed and Self magazine published the image with the excerpt below.

tutu-ss

After being excited about the initial contact Monika was appalled at the use of her photo.

I feel that we were mislead in providing the picture. Had I known how the picture was going to be used I wouldn’t have wanted to send it.

Monika Allen’s company, Glam Runner, produces these tutus, sells them and donates the money to charity. “Over the past 3 years we’ve made…probably, two-thousand tutus.

According to Self magazine, the image was “lame” in relation to their “BS Meter” and further states,

…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.

What the article omitted from their excerpt is that Monika was running with a brain tumor and she was in the middle of chemotherapy. For Monika, these tutus embodied strength, courage, and determination.

My Story

This hits all too close to home for me, so I was perturbed when I initially came across the story. I know I speak for many. Most of us have had a family member or close friend go through the struggles of cancer related illnesses. I experienced it twice.

About 15 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with a rare condition that was considered cancer threatening. She went through a few operations and even spent a short amount of time at the Mayo Clinic. About ten years ago, my five-year-old sister (at the time) was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She went through several surgeries and still currently receives treatment and checkups from time to time. Often, I’m reminded of the struggles my family went through. So, this story hit me hard.

At first, I was worried how it would change my Mother and Sister. My mother never skipped a beat and became her old self pretty quickly. My sister, being as young as she was, handled it with grace. She was given a special helmet to wear during chemo and she was required to wear it every time she received treatment. As a big brother, you can only hope she understands the gravity of the situation as she got older.

[REWIND: KIDS WITH CANCER LEARN TO DEVELOP THEIR CREATIVE VOICE USING PHOTOGRAPHY]

 

After completing chemo, she was proud of herself. Numerous days missed in school, several operations and dozens of doctor appointments never fazed her. The helmet she was instructed to wear became a symbol of her pride. With my Dad’s help, she hung it up in her room and proudly displayed it. Just like Monika’s tutu, she found her symbol, her badge of honor, the piece that denoted her victory.

My Thoughts

For Self magazine to publish this image with such a negative excerpt attached to it was outright disruptive and disrespectful. A magazine titled “Self” that promotes ingenuity, being YOU, and non-conformity deceived its readers into hypocrisy. This excerpt is small, but the visual hierarchy at which it was emphasized commanded attention. It promotes insecurity and symbolizes everything wrong with the way woman treat other. We, not just women, need to support each other for being ourselves.

Self magazine’s Editor in Chief, Lucy Danziger told 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.

That response fell short of compassion. For a major publication to not do their due diligence and research the story behind the tutus was mind boggling.

Monika, keep rockin’ that tutu and running those marathons. Every time I see a woman in a marathon striding along in her colorful tutu, I’m going to think of you, my mother, and my sister. Victory is sweet and we all thank you for reminding us.

Don’t forget to support Monika and her Glam Runner gang. You can purchase a Glam Runner tutu by clicking here.

via NBC San Diego/Chicago and Newark Advocate

About

Leujay is a full time wedding photographer with Lin & Jirsa Photography and a freelance runway fashion photographer. He currently lives in Palm Desert with his wife and two dogs. When he’s not enjoying quality family time he fancies himself as a work-in-progress world traveler.

Connect with Leujay on Facebook and follow him on Instagram.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Chris Hoffmann

    Self Mag does have this article online apologizing. They do get blasted in the comments section though. http://www.self.com/blogs/flash/2014/03/self-news-monika-allen-apology.html

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  2. Len

    I dare say a sizeable donation to her cause would be a good way to say “I’m sorry”.

    Mistakes do happen, but this one should not have.

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  3. James

    That’s brutal. Cancer patient or not, why rip on someone that’s getting out, getting exercise and doing it for a great cause? Who cares what she is wearing? Being a guy I will not pretend to understand the things women go through to fit in to what society deems “cool” or “beautiful” or “sexy”. Then you have women telling other women that things they do and wear are “lame”. Monika seems like a strong woman and I don’t think that she will let this bother her but for every 1 Monika, there 100 other women who wouldn’t have the self-esteem to get past being mocked on a national stage.

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    • Leujay Cruz

      I contacted Monika via her business page and she responded with class. If you check out her FB Glam Runner page she’s been nothing but positive in her reaction.

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  4. Chris McNaught

    At the very least, Self magazine should immediately put an apology on their website.
    As proof of their remorse for their lack of empathy, they should run a feature article in their next issue, highlighting the story of Glam Runner, the courage of Monika, and the support that people with cancer count on every day.

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    • Leujay Cruz

      I agree with you, Chris. Magazine real estate is expensive, considering the marketing the opportunities, but an advertising opportunity for Glam Runner in Self’s next issue would bring some resolution. Some. Maybe a featured article for the Glam Runner gang?

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