Cosmopolitan sparked backlash after a profile of a woman who battled cancer touted her story as a way to lose weight without exercise.
"How This Woman Lost 44 Pounds Without Any Exercise," read the article's title, which profiled Simone Harbinson, a mother of two from Melbourne, Australia. Harbinson had struggled with her body image after she gained 60 pounds through her two pregnancies, but according to the story, her journey to lose weight became sidelined when she had a series of serious health scares.
Harbinson was diagnosed with a serious kidney infection, before learning that she had also developed a malignant carcinoid tumor in her appendix. "I just collapsed when he told me the news," Harbinson told Cosmopolitan. "So many emotions ran through me. I was shaking."
Harbinson's cancer diagnosis came shortly after her father had beaten prostate cancer, which she said made the diagnosis even more difficult. "To put him through the emotions of cancer again was really hard for me," said Harbinson.
After undergoing a series of surgeries and suffering complications, Simone was able to return to her job at an accounting office, 12 weeks after her first surgery. Harbinson, who worked out frequently before her diagnosis, said that a lack of exercise led to weight gain.
"I just wasn't in the right mind-set to do anything," said Harbinson. "I really struggled most days to comprehend what I had been through."
I had a vision of how I wanted look and where I wanted to be at this point in time, and it was the complete opposite," she said. "I had just mentally been trying to deal with the aftermath and enormity of what I had been through and trying to put one foot in front of the other to survive."
After her father encouraged her to seek mental health treatment, Harbinson was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the stress of her cancer diagnosis. After being prescribed medication, Harbinson said that she began to eat even more, ending up 35 pounds heavier than she had been before her cancer diagnosis.
Harbinson reportedly started on The Bod, a diet designed by fitness model Sophie Guidolin to balance fat, carbohydrates and protein. "The weight started to fall off," she said. Since changing her diet in summer of 2016, Harbinson said she's lost 44 pounds.
According to Page Six, many users on social media took issue with Cosmopolitan's focus on Harbinson's weight loss in the story. The magazine changed the article's title to "A Serious Health Scare Helped Me To Love My Body More Than Ever."
The article was also edited to remove a line reading, "Simone's weight loss success is proof that ANYONE can lose weight without breaking a sweat simply by eating more mindfully -- no gym required."
"Good to know that 'several life-threatening setbacks' (*cancer*) is the key to weight loss," said one user in a critical tweet. "Do better, Cosmo. Do better."
"Well sure," tweeted another. "Get cancer and spend a significant amount of time in the hospital and the weight just falls off. Come on!!"