Home inspiration The Tutu Controversy aka Why There Is A Silver Lining In Every Cloud

The Tutu Controversy aka Why There Is A Silver Lining In Every Cloud

by Nellie

Yesterday there was an article that went completely viral in the health and fitness arena–and the reaction was epic.

self magazine tutu controversy

Monika Allen was approached by Self Magazine for permission to use her photo (above) in the magazine. She of course replied yes, (who wouldn’t?! I would jump Allover the opportunity to be printed in one of my favorite magazines–hello lest we not forget the party I threw when my legs were printed in Fitness Magazine but I digress.)

Later on after seeing  the copy of the magazine she realized that her picture wasn’t printed in fun, it was actually referred to as “lame”  and regarded in poor taste:

self magazine tutu controversy


But wait… There is more. Turns out that Monika not only made the tutus by hand she makes them and donates the money to charity. If that isn’t enough, the picture of her in her wonder woman outfit was taken while she was in the throes of chemotherapy for brain cancer. Whoa.

She reached out to SELF and pleaded her case and she didn’t get a response. She went to the media and boy did she get what she asked for. Something about this story really brought the emotions out of people, here is an example of the comments on a random unrelated post on the SELF Facebook page:

self controversy


Gone are the days where we shake our heads at a situation over the water cooler–people now go after the offender (brand or person) directly in social media spewing all kinds of crazy comments. People were cursing, threatening, name calling – – it was disturbing.

I don’t agree with SELF at all. I, like most, believe that they should have informed her about the intended use of the photo. That was a big mistake–one they will NEVER forget. However, she was able to get a public apology from SELF and she is okay with that.

For most women those lame words evoked memories of a mean girl. There she was celebrating her moment with a tutu. The tutu was pretty, beautiful and unique–just like her. The tutu wasn’t bothering  anyone, but it bothered this writer. The outfit was fun and harmless and she was unfairly pointed out as being lame. We have all experienced this kind of snarkiness either directly or indirectly and we won’t stand for it. Kudos to Monika for not letting it slide and standing up for herself, and NOT letting the mean girls win.


Silver Lining

I am no social media marketing expert, but I know a few things, and based on the type of shares and viral comments across the Web about this I would bet my last dollar her business has gotten a boost that is just unprecedented from this tutu controversy. Here are some reasons why:

  • People love to help, buying a tutu shows solidarity
  • People spend when emotional
  • People spend to show who is boss
  • It’s a way to finally get back the mean girls
  • People (like me)  really loved the tutu and wanted one! They are too cute!

So this bad situation not only garnered her a media blitz, she also galvanized a tribe on social media, and her business will now be exposed to thousands of not millions!

See how one mean act can be turned into an amazing blessing?

You can support Monika and her tutu’s on her facebook page (which went from 3k likes to 18k likes in one day Holy Smokes!) and you can order tutus here

What did you think of the tutu controversy? Does this change your opinion of the magazine?

You may also like


Kristina Walters March 28, 2014 - 5:27 am

I just sent in my check for my subscription. They SUCK! Shame on them for at least not telling her what they were going to use it for but more importantly, for not investigating why she was running with it on. Maybe if they looked into it further they wouldn’t have put their foot in their mouths!

Nellie March 30, 2014 - 1:42 pm

It was such a huge mistake Kris!

Allie March 28, 2014 - 6:04 am

Sadly this is the first I’m seeing of this and it’s ridiculously disgusting. I cannot even believe this happened in the first place. Self should be ashamed and, if they had a good PR person, would be right now organizing a run for brain cancer where all participants need to wear a Tutu purchased from Monika.

Nellie March 30, 2014 - 1:53 pm

They did a ton of scrambling Allie, and they sat down and interviewed Monika so they are trying really hard to right their wrong!

Carla March 28, 2014 - 7:32 am

I do think it was mean but everyone who reads Self knows that BS meter piece is in the mag. With that being said to boldly lie to get her picture was wrong. They should have told her what they were going to do with it and why. It did result in Monika getting more business and more exposure which is great and honestly, if it were me, and Self was totally honest about why they were putting it in the mag I still would have said yes. Any publicity is good publicity. There are just so many ifs and maybes and what if this would have happened.

At the end of the day, I’m still reading Self. We all make mistakes whether it’s one person, on a blog, or a big table full of editors in a magazine. If I discounted everyone for a mistake, I’d just sitting at home doing nothing and speaking to no one. And Monika got exposure that will help her with her cause and I’m truly happy for that. Despite the circumstances awareness was made. Including the awareness that mean girls are still around even when you’re an adult.

Nellie March 30, 2014 - 1:55 pm

Just like the saying goes…any publicity is good publicity. They surely won’t make that mistake anymore!

Michelle March 28, 2014 - 8:23 am

That’s terrible. I can’t believe they asked her for her photo, so they could make fun of it. Shame on them. Disclose, disclose, disclose. I’m glad there is a silver lining to this for Monika!

Nellie March 30, 2014 - 2:22 pm

Exactly looks like they raised close to 5k for the cause! So that’s awesome 🙂

Kristin March 28, 2014 - 8:50 am

Magazines say mean things – we’ve all seen those columns before. I happen to not agree with this “mean thing” and I think it makes them look idiotic – who cares why people run or how they run, they are running, they are healthy, and who can fault anyone for having some fun! The biggest problem is not disclosing the use of the picture. I totally agree with Carla, I would have still said “yes” – it’s such a great platform to promote her charity work. I can’t believe Self didn’t foresee this backlash – way to piss off a bunch of passionate readers like female runners! Not too smart.

Nellie March 30, 2014 - 2:27 pm

I totally agree!! As long as people are moving there is nothing wrong with that!

Kimberly (Manifest Yourself) March 28, 2014 - 9:36 am

Research. Research. Research. All of this could have been easily avoided with proper research… and disclosure.

Nellie March 30, 2014 - 2:28 pm

I definitely don’t think they cared enough, they just wanted a picture of tutus to make fun of, nothing else. Smh.

FitBritt March 28, 2014 - 12:23 pm

Totally agree with you that her business is probably booming as a result. I think it’s a great way to turn a bad situation into a good one, especially since she gives the money to charity.

I’m not surprised by the reaction at all. I think magazine editors get a reputation for being mean girls and it is not always unwarranted because their reporting is not unbiased. The message of most magazines is this is what is cool and this is what is not. It’s the adult version of the cool kids. I just hope in the future that editors think before they actively try to hurt an individual again by pointing out something they (rightly or wrongly) believe is not cool. Anyway, imagine how that particular editor is feeling at work right now…not so hot now!

Nellie March 30, 2014 - 2:33 pm

You are so right Britt, who ARE they to determine what’s cool and what’s not?

Tamara March 28, 2014 - 3:31 pm

Ugh. I do have a subscription to their magazine but I actually won it and I don’t pay for it! I’d use that money to buy an adorable tutu anyway.
Disturbing. Uncool.
I’m glad this horrible error will lead to great things.

Nellie March 31, 2014 - 9:17 pm

Yes they were able to raise a lot of money as a direct result of this!

Kim March 28, 2014 - 6:24 pm

I think that it is awesome that Monika was willing to be OK with the public apology. And, like you said, she has gotten a lot of great publicity for her company and cause – way better than a picture in SElF that most people think is in the wrong section anyway!

Nellie March 31, 2014 - 9:18 pm

As of today they actually announce they are getting rid of the section–totally smart move!

KalleyC March 28, 2014 - 8:30 pm

That’s so wrong what happened to her! They should have told her what they were going to do with the photo before they just jumped and did it. I also agree with the above posters–they should have done some research on her and her cause. Now they look mean for doing what they did. I don’t have a subscription to them, but I’m sure a lot of people would be re-thinking about resubscribing to them.

Nellie March 31, 2014 - 9:19 pm

Yes the reaction has been quick and fierce I heard a lot of people unsubscribed immediately!

Megan (The Lyons' Share) March 29, 2014 - 9:52 am

Great point! I agree that it totally stinks for her to be shamed like that, but I think she is a strong woman (from her reaction and from seeing her interviewed) and I know she’ll make the best of this! Here’s to hoping her business grows like wildfire! I’m glad people have been so supportive for her.

Leslie March 29, 2014 - 11:43 am

What a horrible thing to do…not just misusing someone’s picture, but then waiting to apologize until after it became a media problem. Thanks for posting about this…I think I know a few girls who need some more tutus!

Nellie March 31, 2014 - 9:20 pm

Yes! I want one now too but they are super overwhelmed with orders!

Stephanie March 29, 2014 - 2:43 pm

Nellie, you wrote about this so well, I saw it yesterday and was completely floored by the story. I cannot even imagine the arrogance it took to ask for her permission to use the photo in a disparaging way. I’m in agreement that SELF probably just gave her business the biggest boost ever and Good! For a magazine meant to empower and embrace women to actually stoop to bullying over something so silly as race garb…ridiculous.

Nellie March 31, 2014 - 9:21 pm

arrogance, that is exactly right Steph! I mean to ask permission knowing exactly what you want the picture for? so rude.

Rachel G March 29, 2014 - 3:55 pm

How disappointing that the magazine chose to print that piece. Very unintelligent and uncouth of them, I must say. But it sounds like they’ve gotten their due backlash and hopefully they won’t make too many similar choices!

Terri April 2, 2014 - 10:07 am

I will admit that I am a fan of Self and I will continue to read them because I am a fan of their message. However, I must agree that section of the magazine always baffled me because it never seemed to resonate with their image. Further more, I’m wondering why they decided that running in tutus weren’t cool. I’ve attended my fair share of marathons and have seen A LOT of people sport the look. And considering, I’m a former ballet dancer, I like it!

catherine gacad April 3, 2014 - 11:11 pm

shame on self magazine, but i agree that bad publicity can be good publicity!


Leave a Comment