A friend of mine was recently subjected to both of these lessons. Not only did a simple interview get twisted around to make her look like a sexual deviant, but others in the fandom were less than helpful. In fact, they betrayed her in a very evil way. She's left the fandom now and even had to change careers because her co-workers knew about the interview, things she truly loved and enjoyed, because the press used her and people she thought were her friends were anything but.
Meet Monika Allen. Allen is 35 and runs a company called Glam Runner, which raises money for various charitable causes, including cancer research (this is important, I will explain why in a minute). This is a picture of her running in the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon (she's on the right). She is wearing a tutu, the kind she makes for Glam Runner to raise money for charity with.
Everybody still with me so far? That's good!
She posted this picture to her Facebook a few months ago and was contacted by an editor at Self magazine. The editor wanted to do a feature on the trend of women running in marathons wearing tutus (apparently, it's a thing. I didn't know, either). Allen said sure. After all, it would be great publicity and alert more people to the cause.
Well, that's how it worked out, but there was a problem getting there.
When the article ran in Self magazine, it was part of a magazine section called "The BS Meter." It included this caption: "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, yes, they deliberately misled Allen as to their intent with the photo (also misled readers, as the picture is from the LA Marathon, not Central Park. But I digress). Could this get any more insulting? Why, yes it can! You see, that run Allen participated in in 2013? That happened between rounds of chemotherapy. Yes, Allen had cancer, specifically brain cancer at the time. Yes, she had cancer in her mid-thirties -- you never know when Death is going to go, "Your table's ready." She was diagnosed in 2012, and that marathon was special to her because it was the first time she ran since the diagnosis. Let's let Allen state the patently obvious -- "It was super offensive. We donate a portion of our company's proceeds to a charity called Girls On The Run, which sponsors exercise and self-confidence to fight bullying -- which is exactly what it felt like to see my photo in Self. It was also snarky and implied that we looked lame." I would like to point out that Self is part of what's called the "scented press" (so called because of the perfume samples embedded in ads in the magazines), which makes its money by socially bullying women into thinking they aren't thin enough, sexy enough, dressed well enough, or anything enough. Not to excuse Self, but they are to empowerment what the Heaven's Gate cult was to Nike.
Word spread about this, and Self found itself on the defensive. Self EIC Lucy Danziger issued the following statement -- "I have sincerely apologized both directly to Monika and her supporters online. At Self, we support women such as Monika (glad she pointed that out, I never would have guessed. -- G); 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. We wish her all the best in her road to good health."
That's a good start, but Allen understandably wants more. "I appreciate their apology, but I would also like to hear them apologize for misleading me about their intent to use my photo and for speaking down to women."
Side note: thanks to the publicity, Allen has gotten more orders for tutus than she can fill, so she is asking people to donate directly to Girls On The Run. They've had a huge spike in support, so there's that.
A long time ago, trash TV host Morton Downey Jr. appeared in a documentary and flat out told viewers, "Be careful appearing on our shows. We WILL use you." Tread cautiously, because some of those safe havens are anything but.