Proud2Bme | Hey Cosmo, Cancer is Not a Diet Plan!

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Hey Cosmo, Cancer is Not a Diet Plan!

By Laura Dumitrescu--In today’s installment of things that should never need to be said: cancer is not a diet plan (surprise!). Apparently, Cosmopolitan didn’t get that memo, hence their recent blog post about an Australian woman titled, “How This Woman Lost [XX] Pounds Without ANY Exercise,” in which they imply that cancer can help one lose weight without needing to exercise. Yikes.

Simone Harbinson’s story was also featured on the Daily Mail’s website with the headline, “'Seven months of pure grit': Mum-of-two who turned to 'comfort food' after battling rare cancer reveals how she lost [XX] kilos and [X] dress sizes WITHOUT going to the gym.”

While scrutinizing Cosmo’s story, I found myself frustrated and disappointed that Harbinson’s story was distorted by sensational headlines and word choices made simply for more page views. I came to the conclusion that, while Cosmo didn’t promote cancer as a weight loss secret throughout the body of the article, they used an irresponsible headline to promote the piece to readers. However, Cosmo did emphasize Harbinson’s “complicated relationship with her body” and her weight loss journey.

The terminology used shows once again how media outlets fail to exercise the role of being an educator. Media channels like Cosmo fail their audience when they portray serious illnesses as just another way to lose weight. Harbinson’s story has great potential to inspire other women who had setbacks in their lives and encourage them to not give up because there is hope and a way back to normalcy.  

For example, Harbinson found a fitness and nutrition program that helped her have a healthy relationship with food and become confident in her body. She could count on the support of her family during her recovery journey, which helped her develop a positive body image that was, in my opinion, the main factor that made her gain the mental health necessary to stay strong during her recovery. I wish Cosmo’s headline choice featured more substance, instead of transforming an important story into shallow click bait.  

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