Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oh, magazine—we've got issues.

It's no secret that I love magazines. LOVE THEM. You're familiar with my frequent references to Women's Health and Oxygen, so OK—I might even be addicted. But one of my all-time, can't-live-without-it magazines isn't in the health and fitness category. It's more of a fashion glossy, but it takes the time to focus on real issues women face all over this world we live in. And that's why I love Marie Claire. Proof:

We sent out the above as a save-the-date postcard for our wedding (which, by the way, happened almost exactly one year ago). Take the header literally—we seriously do have issues. Boxes upon boxes of old issues of magazines and comic books. Lots of magazines and comic books. Sure, we might even have real "issues," too...but that's neither here nor there at this point. [Smile] The point is, I chose Marie Claire for our save-the-date picture. That's how much I love it. But Marie Claire, you and I, we've got issues right now.

I follow a variety of blogs much like my own that are written by women very much like myself. They are good blogs, filled with excellent information that relates to living the fit life. And one of them linked me to an article, "The Hunger Diaries," that will run in the October 2010 issue of Marie Claire.  The article's theme: "Six popular bloggers advocate healthier living, but are they putting readers—and themselves—in danger?" Of course I read it. And, oh...disappointment. True and broken-hearted disappointment. I can honestly say this is the very first time an article in Marie Claire has angered me so deeply—I am all too eager to join the masses in saying that Katie Drummond's words were very one-sided. It's as if she was out for blogger blood. A few particularly interesting quotes, followed by my comments:

1) "...members of an insular food- and fitness-obsessed blog world." Key word: insular. Which, according to the dictionary, means "detached, standing alone," and "isolated." To that I ask—are we food- and fitness-obsessed bloggers really standing alone in our efforts to live the fit life? I can't believe that's true.

2) "...the women are cashing in on mainstream success—even though only one has university-level nutrition training." Does that cheapen any professional dishing out health-related advice? I'm not university educated when it comes to personal training, but I am educated. And certified. Does that make me less of a trainer? And regardless, freedom of speech allows me to share my life with this world if I choose to do so. I'm not asking you to live your life according to mine, Katie Drummer. Rather, I'm simply sharing my information with you in an effort to inspire the fire within. If you can't determine right from wrong when it comes to your own personal health, I really to blame?

3) "Behind the cutesy titles and sloganeering lies an arguably unhealthy obsession with food, exercise, and weight." That seems like an extremely drastic statement, don't you think? I write about pieces of my life, and I'm sure the women in this article would say the same thing.  PIECES. Therefore, you cannot make such assumptions when you do not know the whole story. And what the heck is wrong with cutesy titles and sloganeering? As a former advertising copywriter, I can tell you that cutesy titles and sloganeering are everything. And really fun to write. And even more fun to read.

4) "...exercise descriptions can be particularly triggering to eating-disorder-prone followers." I agree with that statement. 100%. HOWEVER. Bloggers can't be held completely responsible for what our readers do with the information they draw from our thoughts. We put OUR thoughts and OUR lives out there, based on what we know and have learned and what works for us—and we disclaim it as such. Aren't the images in Marie Claire (and any other magazine, for that matter) problematic for "eating-disorder-prone followers"?

5) "Meanwhile, discussion of the 2011 Healthy Living Summit has already begun." GREAT! So great. I read about this event online after the fact, and I really hope to get involved with it in the future. I think the concept is wonderful. How can something that celebrates the fit life be a negative?

Dear Katie Drummond,
I commend you for sharing your opinion so loudly and clearly. The article itself was well-written in the sense that it clearly conveyed your thoughts, but it's extremely unfortunate that your thoughts were so one-sided. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to be contacted by a journalist writing an article for a great and wonderful fashion magazine such as Marie Claire. The women in your article must have been extremely excited to share their life and their thoughts with you, and then completely devastated to find that you did nothing more than tarnish their image and judge them for attempting to live the fit life. Please be more careful in the future. I think I can speak for many when I say that we readers like to hear both sides of the story whenever possible—and it seems like this time it was entirely possible for you to have done just that. But you didn't. And that's unfortunate.
With love, 

PS-Tell Joanna I respect her for standing behind you (and that she still owes me a beauty bag for being "Reader of the Month" in the June 2008 issue).

To my fellow health writers, 
Keep your head high. Write from your heart, and share from the same. Write with truth and honesty, and don't be afraid to share your own questions and concerns. Or to address those of your readers with honesty and with humility if you must reference them to another greater and more knowledgeable source. That's what makes a health writer a professional. University educated or not. Together, we give strength to the idea that life should be lived to the fullest—and at its healthiest. Sometimes we are right, sometimes our imperfections show. Be not discouraged by the article mentioned above, whether it referenced you directly or not. We are who we are, and we cannot be squelched by tough comments and one-sided theories.  That's what makes us so great.
With love...and in good health,

To conclude, I'll step down from my soap box as I say this: while this article clearly frustrates me, it will not scare me into thinking that what I am doing is wrong. I am inspired by the women that were mentioned in this article and will continue to read their blogs daily. This article does nothing more than add fuel to my fitness fire, and I intend to keep the flames going. And if it makes you happy, Katie Drummond, I'll end with one last letter: 

Dear readers, 
As you read this blog, know that I love your support with all of my heart. I write for you, and my only purpose is to fuel your fitness fire with my own. I know that you are smart, and I know that you know your body more than I ever will. What I say in this blog is based on what I have learned and what works for me. I certainly don't expect you to live your life according to my blog, but I certainly enjoy the fact that you come back day after day to see what I've been up to or what I've been thinking about. Or what I've learned in relationship to living the fit life. If I find it interesting, well...maybe you will, too. Keep reading, keep loving yourself. Keep living the fit life. You are beautiful, and you are strong. Don't ever let my words, or the words withing a magazine, shift your belief in that.
With love, 

And with that, I'm off to Club Industry 2010. Quite possibly even Trader Joe's if I can find the time!

Question: Did you read the article? What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

Kath said...

Thanks for your support Tara :)

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