Tag Archives: Target

Tutus, Wonder Women and Haters

Look at that fabulous picture up there.  Does it make you smile?  Think it’s a story about motivation and joy and taking back your own power?

Sorry.  It’s a story about a “self help” magazine asking a woman if they could use her photo in their magazine and then pulling a total hater move and making fun of her in the captions.

Apparently Self magazine contacted San Diego runner Monika Allen seeking permission to use her photo in the April issue of the magazine.  Monika said yes, and was understandably excited to see her picture in the magazine.  The  online version of the magazine is already out.  And she’s excited all right, but not in a good way.

The  photo appeared in a section of the magazine called the BS Meter.  Next to the photo was this copy:

“A racing tutu epidemic has struck New York’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.”

Cue rimshot.  Slow hand clap.  You see what they did there?  Run from you faster.  Makes you wonder why magazine circulation numbers are crashing, right?

Now I’m sure the writer from Self was feeling pretty proud for their little moment, except maybe there’s a little research this writer failed to do.  Like the research that indicated this was Monika’s first run since being diagnosed with brain cancer.  And she was wearing this costume to help her feel motivated to keep running while she was undergoing chemotherapy.  And she makes and sells the skirts to raise money for Girls on the Run, a charity that sponsors exercise and confidence-building programs for young girls.

Whoops.

Not surprisingly the backlash online has been sort of epic.  This is what we in the biz refer to as a public relations nightmare of epic proportions.  This is a “hey kid, you’re fired” kind of maneuver.  Monika sent an email to Self saying how upset she was for the way the picture was used.  And she took to traditional and social media to tell the world how upset she was as well.

Since the story originally aired and went viral, the Editor in Chief of Self magazine “apologized” on her twitter account and sent an email apology to the local news station with this little gem:

“in our attempt to be humorous, we were inadvertently insensitive.”

“I have sincerely apologized both directly to Monika and her supporters online. 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 would like to cover her good work in a future issue,” the statement reads. “We wish her all the best in her road to good health.”

Let’s deconstruct, shall we?  “We thought we were being funny but we didn’t know that she would have a disease that people don’t think is funny.  Had we known that this woman had the “Big C” we would have written a tear-jerker style exploitative piece instead of a snark piece.  I mean come on!  How were we supposed to know she had cancer.  If we had known, that would have meant we were overtly insensitive, but since we didn’t know, we were inadvertently sensitive.  We have sincerely apologized in public because the public is mad and it hurts when people write mean things online.  (Although when people are mad they do comment more and our engagement numbers are up, but you can’t have everything.)  At our publication we support women like Monika when it suits us and humiliate women like Monika when we feel like it.  We have donated to her charity because hey money makes everything better and we’re kinda terrified that we will get sued.  We’d like to cover her in a future issue because usually promising “exposure” to people gets them to accept just about anything.  We wish her all the best in her recovery, because frankly, if this broad kicks the bucket, a few of us are going back to copy editing at Pennysaver.”

Speaking of being sued, please note that the above paragraph is not actually quoted from anybody at Self magazine.  I made it up.  And if it’s insensitive, I did it very much on purpose.

I wish Monika the best.  I think she is frankly going to sell a LOT more tutus after this.  And I think she is a woman we can all admire.  But I think this is an indicator.  It is really, really bad out there.  When a newsstand publication thinks that they can get permission to use a photo depicting a conventionally beautiful woman and shame her in front of the world, it’s pretty bad out there.  And for those of us who don’t meet the conventional standards of beauty, it’s a field day.  If you are a fat, gorgeous, tattooed woman who dares to post a picture of yourself in a fabulous polka dot bikini, you just might find your picture used without your permission to sell diet ads.  And when you go after the company, they will just make some excuse about how it’s the fault of their affiliates.  Because they feel pretty confident that they can do whatever they want to you.  Because if you are not conventionally beautiful, you are fair game.

 

Weak!

In fact, no one is safe from being abused online.  Nobody.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this amazing Ted Talk from the gorgeous and talented Maysoon Zayid, “I have 99 Problems…Palsy is Just One.”  When you have a minute, I encourage you to watch the whole thing.  It is well worth your time. It was especially touching to me to hear her say, at about 12 minutes in to her presentation:

“The doctor said I would never walk.  Yet here I am in front of you.  But I grew up with social media, I don’t think I would be.  I hope that together, we can create more positive images of disability in the media and in every day life. Perhaps if there were more positive images, it would foster less hate on the internet.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it still takes a village to teach our children well.”

I wonder.  I wonder how many powerful and world-changing people are being crushed under the need for some hater to get their three seconds of fame in the comments section.  I wonder how the search for snark is helping to foster the utter disregard for people’s lives and their well-being.  I wonder how many of our generation’s revolutionary leaders are smashed when their photos are misappropriated and tagged in an amusing meme.  I wonder how much more I could accomplish if I didn’t get nasty comments and hate mail every freaking day of my life.

Here’s hoping we can be part of the village that helps to lift one another out of the battle ground of the comments section and fight the good fight of making the world a better place.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Want to learn to face the spring holidays with more joy and less trauma?  My dear friend and colleague Golda Poretsky is offering a HAES for the Holidays course just for spring.  I am an affiliate, so if you join her class, you can support me at the same time.  Win, win WIN!

 

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In EPIC Wardrobe Malfunction, Target Creates Thigh Gap by Removing Young Woman’s Lady Bits

Close up of gruesome wardrobe malfunction. EEEK!

In it’s quest to ensure that all its models are sporting an appropriate thigh-gap,  Target PhotoShop artists appear to have removed a junior model’s vagina altogether.  The image was pointed out by several watchdog groups and blogs not only for it’s garish wardrobe malfunction, but also for the fact that it appears the junior model in question may have also been mutated into an alien creature with a very long torso and very long arms, best seen in the larger version of the photo here:

The photographic evidence of Target’s tampering have since gone viral and Target has issued an “apology” stating:

“In response to your query about the swimsuit image on Target.com, this was an unfortunate error on our part and we apologize. We have removed the image from our Web site,” a company spokesman said. Asked how the mistake occurred, “It was the result of a photo editing error on our part.”

Which leaves me with a few things to say to our friends at Target.  First of all, in your “apology” I have to say that I don’t think that word means what you think it means.  Sure, your PhotoShop guy or gal messed up.  I can certainly understand how that happened.  I doubt that it’s some sort of malicious protest on the part of the graphic designer as some have suggested.  I really don’t imagine that some designer wanted to point out the brutality inherent in the system of PhotoShopping images by blatantly messing up and releasing a picture.  I’ve produced websites and games and DVDs.  I understand that stuff slips through the cracks.  That poor graphic artist is probably not being paid less per hour than your minimum wage checkers and is probably working 80 hours per week on “salary” in a web sweat shop somewhere.  And the junior manager or producer doing Quality Control on those images is probably working just as hard and not getting paid very well either.  And if anybody gets fired over this whole mess, it will probably be them.

Apology? Hmmm. Maybe not.

But I’m sorry to say Target, that you apologized for the wrong thing.  Don’t apologize to me that a graphic artist messed up and released a photo that makes it blatantly obvious that you drastically altered a young woman’s body to convince 12-year old girls that they need to be seven feet-tall, size 00 and have a thigh gap that could hold a soccer ball.  Don’t apologize to me that you got caught.  Apologize to me for feeling the need to PhotoShop these images this way in the first place.  Apologize to me for altering photos to create impossible beauty ideals to products aimed at 12-year-old girls in an environment where hospitalizations for eating disorders in kids under 12 are up 119% (see Pinhas et. al.)  Apologize to me for being so certain that your model needs to sport a thigh gap, a trendy body trait that is nearly impossible to maintain for all but a microscopic percentage of the human race, that you were willing to graphically stretch her on the rack and excise critical bits of her anatomy to accomplish it.  (You could consider the techniques shown in the video below.  These are kinda cool actually.)

Target, you make me sad.  I adore your wide, bright aisles and fun POP displays.  I love your colorful and fun, yet generally affordable housewares, camping gear and sporting goods.  But this has GOT to stop.  It’s time for you to retract your fake apology and give us a real one.  Then tell us how you are going to stop digitally dissecting the already beautiful bodies of your models to sell us a dose of unreality we just shouldn’t have to swallow.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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