Dear Nina Garcia, Editor-in-Chief of Elle; Kristina Rodulfo, Senior Beauty Editor of Elle; and Steven Swartz, President and CEO of Hearst:
Trivializing migraine trivializes women.
Your mission statement, “ELLE inspires women to explore and celebrate their own style in all aspects of their lives,” is an empowering, inclusive and non-judgmental objective for your publication. However, there is a huge disconnect between Elle’s mission and Kristina Rodulfo’s recent article “All the Pretty People on Instagram Are Doing the Migraine Pose,” which encourages readers to take selfies that “deliberately look like they have a headache,” because “it’s damn flattering.”
There is nothing flattering or sexy about our disease. Too many people see us as weak, hypersensitive, unreliable, attention-seeking fakers. “Migraine pose” perpetuates the stigma that is ingrained in our society.
CHAMP (Coalition For Headache And Migraine Patients) represents all Americans who have headache diseases, including the approximately 40 million who experience the pain and disabling effects of migraine attacks. We are dedicated to educating the public about the wide spectrum of our complex neurological diseases. In that spirit, we want to work with you to pivot the conversation from glamorizing our pain to elevating public awareness. CHAMP’s membership includes 17 organizations and three patient opinion leaders. Combined, our membership has a social media reach of 633,000 Facebook followers, 100,000 Twitter followers and 42,000 Instagram followers. We also have a robust community of patient advocates and blogs that actively work to decrease stigma and improve treatment options for all headache diseases.
In the days following publication of the article, individual members and organizations of the migraine community (many of whom are affiliated with CHAMP) have communicated their concerns by boldly showing the reality of life with migraine. We recognize that Elle changed the title of the article from “migraine pose” to “headache pose.” However, this action shows that you fundamentally don’t understand that our disease and pain should not be trivialized into a beauty pose.
Some key facts to share with you:
- There are over 300 medical classifications of primary and secondary headache disorders, with migraine being just one type. Additional diagnoses include new daily persistent headache, cluster headache (recognized by the medical field as the most painful condition one can have, sometimes referred to as “suicide headache”), and chronic migraine – meaning 15 or more headache days per month.
- Migraine disproportionately affects women – 1 in 5 have migraine. 82% of your readership is women.
- Headache is only one of the symptoms a person with migraine experiences. There are more than eighteen other symptoms that accompany head pain.
- The World Health Organization recognizes that migraine is “as disabling as quadriplegia and dementia.”
- A recent study of people with chronic migraine shows that 49% felt they would be a better partner and 64% would be a better parent if they didn’t have migraine disease.
We commend you on some of the past articles you have posted that communicated about migraine disease in a more medically accurate and responsible manner. We want to collaborate with you on the development of more sensitive and engaging articles that shed light on a disease that forces far too many to live in darkness. We can connect you to many people living with migraine who are eager to share their stories and show the true face of migraine disease.
We respectfully call on Elle and Hearst to:
- Take down the Migraine/Headache Pose article from all media platforms. This insensitive information further stigmatizes our disease and should not have the support of your channels.
- Commit to producing an evidence-based, medically accurate article about how migraine disease disproportionately impacts your core readership.
Those living with migraine, headache and cluster diseases have co-opted #migrainepose (and established #truemigrainepose as well) to show an accurate portrayal of our “invisible” illnesses. Your silence to our advocacy is disheartening. We’ve suffered quietly for generations, but the conversation around migraine and headache diseases is rapidly changing. Our voices will now be heard and we want you to engage and play an empowering role.
Will you join with us?
CHAMP – Coalition For Headache And Migraine Patients
Member Organizations and Supporting Partners
Adventures of a Spoonie Mom
Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy
American Initiatives for Military Support
Association of Migraine Disorders
Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc.
Chronic Migraine Life
Cluster Headache Support Group
Cluster headaches (trigeminal autonomic cephalagia)
Counting My Spoons
Danielle Byron Henry Migraine Foundation
Global Healthy Living Foundation
Health Union LLC, Migraine.com
Lady Migraine 365
Keepin’ Our Heads Up
Making of a Brave Man
Migraine Research Foundation
Migraine World Summit
Miles for Migraine
National Headache Foundation
Om Lifestyle LLC
Out of My Head Film
Runnin’ for Research
Spinal CSF Leak Foundation
The Counterfactual Brain
The Daily Headache
The Migraine Diva
The Migraine Warrior
U.S. Pain Foundation