Major Fail: Cosmopolitan Magazine Says Cancer is the Secret to Weight Loss

Sometimes, you just really wonder what in the actual hell people are thinking.

In our age of perpetually snapping and videoing smartphones, photos that can go viral overnight and reputations that can be ruined within hours, we need to be more conscious than ever. If we question whether something we’re posting or doing is slightly off-colour, odds are that someone is going to think that it is.

It turns out that the editorial team over at Cosmopolitan magazine should have employed a similar train of thought.

This week’s biggest fail goes to the magazine, which had actually strayed a tad from its sometimes-trashy roots as of late. Proving that old habits die hard, however, this week, the magazine faced a flurry of social media backlash when it basically suggested that cancer was great for weight-loss. Yes, we’re serious.

On Tuesday, Cosmo tweeted out a story called “How This Woman Lost 44 Pounds Without *ANY* Exercise.” Intriguing (and totally click-worthy), right? As it turns out, the woman’s “weight-loss secret” was something that has touched us all in some way: cancer. Yup. The woman had battled cancer.

The story spoke of 31-year-old Instagrammer Simone Harbinson, who had “tested positive for malignant carcinoid tumor of the appendix.” She underwent a series of surgeries that were riddled with complications before being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder that was triggered by her cancer diagnosis.

Cosmo decided to focus on the weight loss as an angle.

According to the publication, the disorder caused her to seek comfort in food. To battle the weight gain, she went on a diet called “The Bod” and was able to drop 44 pounds “without a single session at the gym.” But the only reason why she didn’t hit the gym was because “she’s still recovering from surgery, she isn’t physically able to work out the way she used to before her cancer diagnosis.”

While the publication stopped short of explicitly linking cancer directly to her body transformation, their choice of words certainly seemed to suggest that was the case. Apparently, before the story was edited (the perks of digital media, right?), one of the lines read “Simone’s weight loss success is proof that ANYONE can lose weight without breaking a sweat simply by eating more mindfully—no gym required,” according to Highsnobiety.

After a flood of inevitable backlash, Cosmo deleted the tweet and changed the title to “A Serious Health Scare Helped Me Love My Body More than Ever.” In addition to slamming the publication, many readers took to Twitter to share their own experiences with cancer.

While the magazine – which is known for a long-held emphasis on physical attractiveness and mediocre sex tips – seems to have gotten with the times and jumped on the overdue body positivity bandwagon in recent years, this sort of content takes them back to their less-than-empowering roots. It’s safe to call it an epic, headshake-worthy fail.  These kinds of choices go through many people; it wasn’t as though it was one poorly thought through Tweet by an intern or greener than green coordinator.

It was the slant of the entire article.

It could have been an empowering, inspirational story about a woman regaining her life, health and confidence after cancer, instead it read more like an advertorial for a diet.

Not cool, Cosmo.


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