In the Shadow of the Mouse

Secrets of a theme park obsessed local who lives next door to Mickey, with annual passes to every Central Florida park

Self magazine calls tutu-wearing cancer survivor lame, backpedals fast

One of the things I love about living near Walt Disney World is that you never have to worry about your wardrobe. When you live in Tourist Central, it’s rare to find restaurants that insist on any sort of formal attire, and you can throw on any casual outfit and be content in the knowledge that there’s someone out there who will make you seem like a fashion plate by comparison. That’s perfect for me, since I’m a “jeans and t-shirts and what the hell is make-up?” kind of gal.

You can also get a little wild with your attire if you’re in an attention-seeking mood. Just look at all the mouse ear varieties people don at the Disney parks, from Mickey to Stitch to Goofy to Oswald ears and beyond. I personally have a monorail headpiece that makes it look like the train is driving through my head Steve Martin-arrow style. It hasn’t been available for years, so it’s a novelty and a fun conversation starter.

tutuYou normally can’t wear costumes into the theme parks if you’re not a kid, but that rule flies out the window every now and then. The main time is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, when just about anything goes and some of the guest costumes rival those of the actual characters. However, if you’ve ever been to a runDisney race, you’ve surely seen Disney costumes aplenty. A big part of the fun is the crazy attire, and the runners get very creative.

Tutus are hot item at Disney and on the running circuit in general, and they add a splash of color and lightheartedness to an otherwise grueling endeavor. In its April issue, Self magazine decided to appoint itself judge and jury of the trend, pronouncing its verdict: “Lame.”

Problem is, the photo that the magazine used to illustrate its nasty little snark is a photo of a cancer survivor named Monika Allen. She was dressed as Wonder Woman, a costume completed by a tutu, because she was fighting brain cancer and right in the middle of chemo treatment when she ran the LA marathon where the snapshot was taken. You can see the nasty little Self piece in the photo accompanying article, which Ms. Allen’s company, Glam Runners, shared on its Facebook page.

The magazine dissed a woman for whom a super hero costume is quite appropriate, given the rigors of cancer treatment, and worse yet, it also ignored the fact that she sells tutus through Glam Runners, and donates the proceeds to the Girls on the Run charity to promote exercise for young women and help them build their confidence. She’s raised almost $6000 for that worthy cause

Here’s what Self used as its caption for the photo of this brave and enterprising woman:

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.

So who’s the lame one? I don’t think it’s Ms. Allen, and neither did thousands of others who lambasted Self when the story came to light. The magazine is suddenly backpedaling, with its editor in chief, Lucy Danzige, issuing a public apology on the magazine’s Facebook page:

On behalf of SELF, we sincerely apologize for our inadvertent insensitivity. I have personally reached out to Monika and her supporters online to apologize for the misstep and tell them we are trying to remedy the situation. At SELF we support women such as Monika; she is an inspiration and embodies the qualities we admire. We have donated to her charity and have offered to cover her good work in a future issue. We wish her all the best on her road to good health.

We all know that anyone wearing tutus is still “lame” in Self’s eyes and that the reason for this swift reversal is the fact that they realize they slipped into a dark, deep vat of horse manure with their wildly insensitive photo selection. Seriously, they didn’t notice the “Die Tumor Die” notation right on Ms. Allen’s friend’s bib? At least they’ve proven beyond a shadow of a doubt what “lame” really is.

Speaking of Walt Disney World and fighting deadly diseases, have you ever heard of Give Kids the World Village? It’s a magical place in Kissimmee for kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Learn more about it in my previous article.

Follow me on Twitter via @themeparkwriter and stay tuned for more tips, observations, comments, and rants from someone who lives close enough to Walt Disney World to hear the fireworks from her house every night. I literally write my blog  In the Shadow of the Mouse.

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