Cosmo’s Headline About Cancer Survivor’s Weight Loss Is A Doozy

They've since changed it following backlash.

Like a cover on a book, headlines are supposed to entice potential readers ― but this Cosmopolitan one took that premise a little too far.

In a piece that went up on on Monday afternoon, editor Elizabeth Narins tells the story of 31-year-old Simone Harbinson and the life-threatening health scares she faced over the course of a tumultuous two years.

The story documents the sicknesses she endured and struggles she overcame, but the original headline, strangely, only focused on Harbinson’s weight loss:


Harbinson is an Instagram fitness blogger so we understand that exercise and healthy living is significant to the story, but the headline makes it seem like her ailments were a weight loss hack.

But the weight loss aspect of Harbinson’s story is unrelated to everything she suffered through.

Harbinson got a severe kidney infection, tested “positive for a malignant carcinoid tumor of the appendix,” “contracted an infection that required her to be quarantined,” experienced a partial lung collapse, and suffered from chronic pain stemming from a damaged disc in her back. And that’s not even all the hardships she endured.

The article also notes that Harbinson “lost 44 pounds without a single session at the gym,” noting that 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 weight loss is surely a major tenet of the Cosmo brand, this headline and “angle,” if you want to call it that, is completely tone deaf. And many people agreed:

Cosmopolitan deleted the tweet touting the story just under an hour after it was posted.

It’s important to note that many writers and journalists do not come up with the headlines for their pieces because an editor (or editors) is involved. So, more than one person at the publication signed off on this, which is probably how ― right after the tweet was deleted ― the publication swapped out the original headline for this:

The dek accompanying the revised headline is still the same as it was in the original piece and its tone is also problematic. As Twitter noted above, it’s making cancer appear as though it’s a diet.

Despite the changed headline, Cosmopolitan did not put a note on the piece indicating that anything had been altered.

For Harbinson’s part, she didn’t appear to have an issue with the headline’s message. She sent out this post on her Instagram after the article was published:

HuffPost has reached out to the writer, Harbinson, and Cosmopolitan for comment.

Before You Go

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