Magazine Makes Fun of Cancer Survivor's Tutu

Monika Allen said she didn't realize how the magazine was planning to use her photo

By Greg Bledsoe
|  Monday, Mar 31, 2014  |  Updated 2:25 PM CDT
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A San Diego woman is appearing in the latest issue of a popular women's magazine. The only problem is it's not how she pictured it. NBC 7's Greg Bledsoe explains why this woman says she was misled.

A San Diego woman is appearing in the latest issue of a popular women's magazine. The only problem is it's not how she pictured it. NBC 7's Greg Bledsoe explains why this woman says she was misled.

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A San Diego runner and cancer survivor says she was snubbed by a popular women's magazine that used a photo of her wearing a tutu to make fun of the fitness fashion trend. 

Monika Allen says she was excited to receive an email from SELF magazine asking for permission to use a photo that showed her running the LA marathon dressed as Wonder Woman and wearing a tutu in an upcoming issue.

But when the April issue came out, Allen said she was “stunned and offended.”

The picture appears in a section of the magazine called “The BS Meter," with a caption that refers to a "tutu epidemic" and basically makes fun of the women's outfits, she said.

"A racing tutu epidemic has struck NYC's Central Park, and it's all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster," the caption reads. "Now, if you told us they made people run from you faster, maybe we would believe it."

Allen said the photo was "really offensive for a couple of reasons." The marathon came right in the middle of chemotherapy, and she says the outfit gave her motivation.

“The reason we were wearing those outfits is because this was my first marathon running with brain cancer,” Allen explained.

Another reason was that she made the tutu herself. Her company Glam Runners makes them and donates the money to Girls on the Run, a charity that sponsors exercise and confidence-building programs for young girls. She said she's raised about $5,600 for the nonprofit by making about 2,000 tutus over the past three years.

"I feel like we were misled in providing the picture. Had I known how the picture was going to be used, I wouldn't have wanted to send it,” she said.

Allen said she emailed SELF magazine Tuesday night. As of Wednesday afternoon, she had not received a response.

In a statement to NBC 7, SELF apologized "for the association of her picture in any way other than to support her efforts to be healthy."

"Of course if tutus make you run with a smile on your face or with a sense of purpose or community, then they are indeed worth wearing, for any race," the statement read.

This marathoner knows firsthand that a smile can go a long way.

“One little smile or an extra cheer from a stranger can really make things better," Allen said.

There are dozens of messages of support for Allen on the Glam Runner Facebook page. Allen says friends and customers have also sent letters to SELF.

Ed. Note: Since this article was published on March 26, SELF Magazine has apologized to Allen.
Even so,
Allen told NBC 7 she was still hurt by the incident. San Diegans donned tutus for a run in support of Allen. And the magazine promises to change after the controversy.

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