Monika Allen is notable for several things: she’s a board member for Girls on the Run San Diego, a charity to inspire girls in grades 3-8 to be “joyful, healthy, and confident”; she is the co-founder of Glam Runner, which sells the skirts to raise money for “exercise and confidence-building programs for young girls”; and she’s made it a mission to regularly run marathons, even with her recent diagnosis of brain cancer.
But none of those things were mentioned when a photo of Monika and her friend, Tara, running a marathon was recently featured in SELF Magazine.
Instead, the caption to the photo read, “A racing tutu epidemic has struck NYC’s Central Park, and it’s all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster. Now, if you told us they made people run from you faster, maybe we would believe it.”
There was an outpouring of support for Allen; there was also significant (and rightful) outrage.
But it mostly seemed the outrage came because Monika was made fun of even though she had cancer. But let’s not forget to be outraged over the fact that, if Monika didn’t have cancer, she still didn’t deserve to be made fun of. Period.
It’s not okay for a magazine to take a photo of unsuspecting women, publish it in a national magazine (with an audience of 1.5 million, I might add), only to make fun of her.
Yet it happens all the time. In fact, many women’s magazines that proclaim to support women are actually just “mean girls” packaged betwixt glossy pages.
Glamour runs a feature that takes photos of real-life women, slaps a bar over their eyes, and then makes fun of whatever they’re wearing.
And it’s not just national magazines. It’s your co-worker who shoots another co-worker a dirty look because she’s wearing a figure-hugging dress. It’s your mom who sucks her teeth when she finds out you’re dating another, different guy. It’s your best friend who giggles when a fat woman walks by wearing leggings as pants. It’s the people we love, the people we care about. It’s you, it’s me. In these instances, we’re strangely okay with it — or, at the very least, we’re hesitant to speak out. Why?
Why aren’t we completely livid every time someone calls a woman they don’t know a “slut” because of what she’s wearing?
Why aren’t we disgusted when we hear a strong woman dismissed as a “bitch”?
Why doesn’t it break our hearts when women are sniped at?
And how does the constant negative chatter toward other women impact our own internal chatter about ourselves?
Let’s stop. We all know know how much it hurts to be on the receiving end of careless comments, the kind that do nothing but serve to hurt our feelings and tear us down. Tearing other women down does nothing but foster negativity, not just for them, but for ourselves, too.
So this is me, admitting I sometimes make mean comments because I’m insecure. This is me, saying sometimes I giggle when someone I care about makes a cutting comment about someone else instead of speaking up. This is me, acknowledging that there’s a difference between “blowing off steam” and “being mean” — and sometimes I cross that line. And this is me, actively making an effort to stop.
Will you, too?
Photo credit Girls on the Run San Diego.