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Running Nonprofit Raises Thousands From SELF Magazine’s ‘Tutu Gate’

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Girls on the Run

Runners wearing tutus warm up before Girls on the Run's "Joyful Tutu Run" on Saturday in Torrey Pines. The run was organized to show solidarity with Monika Allen, a runner who was mocked by SELF Magazine.

A scandal that could be called "tutu gate" hit San Diego last week. A local runner was mocked by SELF Magazine for wearing a ballerina's tutu during a marathon. Turns out, the runner was battling brain cancer and sells tutus to support a nonprofit that empowers young girls.

But there's a silver lining: The nonprofit has raised thousands of dollars since "tutu gate" hit.

Monika Allen donned a Wonder Woman T-shirt and blue tutu for last year's Los Angeles Marathon, which she ran while getting chemotherapy for brain cancer. SELF Magazine asked her for permission to print the photo, which she granted. But then Allen was shocked to see that the magazine put her photo under a section called "The BS Meter" with a description calling her tutu lame.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Monika Allen

Monika Allen runs in a tutu during last year's LA Marathon.

The backlash against the magazine was swift. SELF has since apologized, but its mockery of Allen ended up helping Allen raise money. Her company, called Glam Runner, makes and sells tutus to support the nonprofit Girls on the Run, which empowers young girls by teaching them to run.

Since SELF's mockery hit the internet five days ago, Glam Runner was deluged with tutu orders. Each tutu is made by hand, so Tara Baize, the co-founder of Glam Runner, said they had to shut down orders because they couldn't keep up.

"Everyone's been really positive," she said. "It's just us making the tutus, so we've been overbooked."

Instead, they put up a link on their website that allows people to donate directly to Girls on the Run. Baize said they've now raised more than $4,000 in just a few days. Before SELF's story, she said it took them three years to raise $5,600.

Allen has accepted SELF Magazine's apology, and Baize said they're happy that this mini scandal has attracted more attention to Girls on the Run.

"We're hoping we can turn this into something positive and it seems like we are and we have been and people are responding to that," Baize said. "We're not mad at SELF Magazine anymore, they have apologized and they realized they made a mistake."

The magazine has promised to get rid of its "BS Meter" section that included the mockery of Allen, Baize said. And Allen will be a guest on Katie Couric's national TV show, "Katie."

Girls on the Run is an after school program for girls ages 8 to 13. Volunteer coaches work with girls twice a week for 10 weeks to help them train to run a 5K, or 3.1 miles, while also teaching lessons about self confidence, hard work, body image and health. There are currently more than 30 teams in the San Diego area.

On Saturday, Girls on the Run organized a tutu run at Torrey Pines to celebrate running and its empowerment of girls and women.

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