Sunday, March 30, 2014

Life Lessons and Cancer Snark

I'm not crazy about Self magazine in the first place. To me, it's just one more exhaust fan churning out the poisoned air of body shame. But they really stepped in it this time.

In an alleged attempt at humor, they took a photo of a young woman wearing a superhero shirt and a fluffy tutu running a marathon. They ran it with a mocking, snarky caption making fun of the tutu trend. As it turns out, she's a brain cancer survivor who makes the tutus to sell for charity. She also was (understandably) hurt and went public with the whole thing. Ouch. I'll let you read the full story here, if you haven't already. It really verges on "kicking angelic golden retriever puppies" territory.

Maybe if they'd been paying attention, the DIE TUMOR DIE on her bib might have tipped them off, but apparently not.

The magazine is, of course, falling all over itself apologizing for being "inadvertently insensitive." I have news for Self. They were not inadvertently insensitive. They were insensitive. They just picked on an extremely sympathetic victim and got their fingers burned for it. Self would be well served to retire its BS Meter column, if this is what it serves up.

It should not have mattered whether she was a cancer survivor or just a happy young woman out to have a good time. I have a suspicion, though, that if she were the latter, going public would have done her little good. The Internet trolls would have piled on saying that the tutu really was lame.

I don't want to get too high and mighty, though. If anything, this is a life lesson to me to stop and think before I do the same, to pull that plank out of my own eye first. If I am honest, I know I've engaged in snark for some artificial boost to my own over-inflated sense of superiority. Plenty of times. I've done it more recently than I would like to admit. For me, this story isn't just about a women's magazine crossing a line. It's about trying to pry the meanness out of my own heart.


  1. I think each of us has gone there at some point. However, I would hope that with age comes wisdom and kindness and the realization that snark is nasty.

    And besides, you're not mean. Just human.

  2. Yeah, I'm trying really hard to keep life simple and just ask myself: Is this a kind thing to do? That's really the only question I need to answer before spouting off. Progress, not perfection, as they say :)

    1. Kind, kind, kind. Good way to put it. Maybe I need to get that word tattooed on the inside of my eyelids. ;-)