A little note in response to Dr. Flanagan's viral letter

Feb 20, 2014

See that girl right there? 
That's my best friend.
She is the Social Media Coordinator for Louisiana's Health & Fitness Magazine in New Orleans. She recently came across Dr. Flanagan's viral letter to his daughter in which he voiced "concern over the role the media plays in our society." Having a Masters in communication & journalism (from Auburn, War Eagle!), Liz has a high regard for media (and you better not expect to bash SELF magazine without any repercussions). She recently wrote an incredible response to Dr. Flanagan's letter, and I couldn't wait to share it with y'all.  

Dear Dr. Flanagan,

I recently read the heartwarming letter you wrote to your "little one" concerning the cover edit featured on certain national publications. Your insight was very charming and enlightening. In fact, you remind me a lot of my dad. Always protecting me and teaching me to be a strong, independent woman worthy of all that the world has to offer. That's his job, as it is yours.

However, I'm curious to know - did you happen to read any of the articles in the magazines you have pictured? Did you open up the books at all? Because if you did, you would have read how Emily suffered from a nearly fatal eating disorder and who rejoiced in the fact that one of the pictured magazines saved her life. Or Sarah, who became motivated to run her first 5K after reading about how a 72-year-old woman just completed her 30th 5K. Or Rebecca, who kept up her fight against cancer once she read encouraging words from a fellow survivor who is in her fourth year of remission.

These publications you so eloquently deemed shameful are delivering hope to millions of readers worldwide. They take real life situations that most women, maybe even your “little one,” face on a daily basis and offer advice on how to embrace their fears, hopes and dreams. It’s an outlet for women who may be too embarrassed to seek help from a friend or medical professional about a certain condition affecting them, but can do so anonymously or perhaps even read about a similar circumstance through the magazine.

Sure, they use buzz words for their covers such as "Go Nude,” "Brilliant Strength," and "Age Defying.” That’s called advertising, which every business uses in one way or the other. And if you’re a smart business, you use words that sell, that grab your audience’s attention. I am not denying the fact that the media plays an enormous role in constructing the minds of individuals. However, you can’t just look at a few words on a few covers and assume that it’s a negative message without further investigation. If you would have read a majority of those magazines you have pictured, you would discover that their mission is to show women, young and old, that you can be a wife, mother, student, single, professional, and/or social butterfly and still maintain a healthy lifestyle and provide the resources to do so.

Being in the publication industry, I am constantly reading and researching other magazines in order to stay on top of the game. Every day I come across an incredibly motivating story of someone’s struggle and how they overcame it because of an article they had read in their magazine. Remember how you expressed to your “little one” that beauty is just as important on the inside as it is the outside? I ask this of you - next time you decide to write a message that could potentially influence a mass audience, do a little more research. Don't judge a book by its cover.

Elizabeth Monk

To see more of Liz's work at Louisiana's Health & Fitness Magazine, visit her blog here or follow the magazine on instagram and twitter @healthfitmag

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