Cosmopolitan magazine is facing intense criticism online after an ill-advised tweet seemed to suggest that cancer was an effective weight-loss strategy.
The popular magazine sent the offending tweet and published the accompanying story, headlined “How This Woman Lost 44 Pounds Without Any Exercise,” on Monday. According to the magazine, 31-year-old Australian Simone Harbinson was struggling to be happy with her body shape and weight when she found out she had a rare form of cancer in her appendix in 2014.
While the cancer proved to treatable without chemotherapy, Harbinson endured several complications in surgery that resulted in an infection, a collapsed lung, a blood clot and more. She was also later diagnosed with PTSD because of her diagnosis.
Cosmopolitan’s story then goes on to outline Harbinson’s mental health issues, which spiraled into a dramatic weight gain, she said. Another health problem, a damaged disc in her back, eventually led to her a diet called “The Bod,” which she says helped her to lose 44 pounds and improved her mental health as well. During that time, the magazine says, Harbinson was unable to exercise strenuously because she was “recovering from surgery.”
After readers began attacking the magazine’s tweet and headline for presenting cancer as a dieting strategy, the magazine revised the headline to read, “A Serious Health Scare Helped Me Love My Body More Than Ever.” According to Page Six, editors also deleted a line near the end of the story that 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.”
Cosmopolitan attempted to “stoke interest in utilitarian weight-loss strategies by shielding the horrors necessary to get there,” one commenter wrote.
On social media, people blasted the magazine.
Cosmopolitan has not issued a statement regarding the tweet and headline, but does include a brief note at the end of the article noting that it has been “updated since publication.”
According to the Huffington Post, Harbinson initially posted to Instagram thanking Cosmopolitan for the story. She has since deleted the post.