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Cancer Survivors — and Anyone Else — Can Run in Whatever They Want

glamrunnersWait, what? Now we’re mocking people’s racing attire? Calling tutus on a marathon course “lame”? Oh, didn’t you hear? Self Magazine ran a “Lame or Legit” feature last week with a picture of two tutu clad runners at last year’s LA Marathon — in the lame column.

Apparently this was all fun and games until they found out that one of the women, Monika Allen, is a cancer survivor — and was in the middle of chemotherapy when she ran the race. And then, of course, they felt really, really bad. Self‘s editor, Lucy Danziger, issued an apology and declared that she was mortified. Allen and her friend were also not pleased, having given their permission to use the photo thinking that, at the very least, the coverage would be positive.

Oops.

It’s confusing, of course, to think about the scenarios in which a magazine that ostensibly exists to support women as they attempt to become their best, healthiest selves, would decide to engage in such petty name-calling.

More confusing to me is the fact that it was only when they realized that one of the women featured was a cancer survivor that they were mortified.

It was the cancer that tipped the scales? As if that were some sort of pity vote?

This is troubling to me. Obviously it defies many rules, notably the golden rule (which, in case you’ve forgotten, says that we should do unto others as we’d have them do unto us), as well as the rule that women should support and cheer each other on because the rest of society does well enough at making us feel bad about ourselves for every one of our choices.

But there is also a rule in running that says that when you are running a race — and especially a marathon — you can wear whatever you darn well please if it helps you get to the finish line. Some people wear capes to help summon the superhuman strength you sometimes need at mile 21, some wear tutus to keep them smiling and laughing when the muscle cramps start kicking in, some wear their old college t-shirts because they are inexperienced and want to feel comfortable.

Personally, I like to wear my name across my chest so that people can cheer me on by name. It makes me feel like a rockstar and keeps me going when I’m feeling uncertain about my ability to finish the race. Some people are annoyed by this — mostly those who are running next to me and have to hear my name called out over and over and over through the miles. But they tolerate it because they know that we do what we have to do and we wear what feels best and keeps us going.

It is clearly bad form for Self, or anyone, to mock someone for what they are wearing — during a race or at any other time — it shocks me that it wasn’t until they got past the rules of humanity, the rules of womanhood, and the rules of runnerdom, and all the way to the rules of cancer survivors (by far the smallest of the groups) before they realized their faux pas. Let’s do better next time, shall we? And recognize that anyone who is running a 26.2 mile race — man, woman, child, cancer survivor, or superhero — deserves to be able to do it in whatever clothes help propel them to the finish line.

Image from Glam Runner’s Facebook page

 

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