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Dick jokes are usually one of Cosmopolitan magazine's core competencies. But an attempt at penis size humor over the weekend on Cosmo's Instagram ended up deeply offending one of the publication's top hairstylists and sparking a mini-movement to ban the magazine from hair salon waiting rooms.
Here's the joke in question, which is still live on Cosmo's Instagram.
It seems to have its origins from a tweet by Cosmo assistant editor Carina Hseih on April 27th.
don't trust men to cut your hair—they've spent their whole lives lying about what constitutes an inch— CARINA HSIEH (@carinahsieh) April 28, 2016
She followed up her joke with another tweet:
@carinahsieh can someone make this go viral? im the edward snowden of crying after haircuts n need the truth out there— CARINA HSIEH (@carinahsieh) April 28, 2016
Well, she got her wish, because now there over 500 comments — mostly negative ones — on Cosmo's Instagram meme version of Hseih's joke.
Celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend created a collage on his Instagram with the meme and the Cosmo covers he's worked on from the past few months, writing that he was personally offended by this post:
SO OFFENDED by this outrageously sexist post from @cosmopolitan I've spent many hours doing hairs for #Cosmopolitan magazine photo shoots, including the 2 covers above, and I've spent many many hours cutting the hairs of #Cosmo editors so I took this one very personally. I would think that a magazine as forward thinking as Cosmo would want to celebrate ALL the hairdressers who dedicate their time and energy on making women AND men look and FEEL their best and most confident. Tag your favorite hairdresser (male or female) if you agree with me and let's turn this negative post into a positive one!
Cosmo EIC Joanna Coles jumped into the comments on Townsend's post to smooth things over and explain-slash-defend the joke:
Mark, we adore your covers and this was supposed to be a joke- about how men exaggerate. Our bad if it didn’t pass the humor test. It’s not really a slur against male hairstylists, it’s a joke about men who think size matters more than effort. We love both Scarlett and Shay’s covers! Joanna xoxo
Cosmo executive entertainment director Dana Stern Schwartz wrote right after Coles that she felt "badly that the post was taken in any offensive way." Other Cosmo editors like senior online beauty editor Carly Cardellino, executive beauty director Leah Wyar Romito, and executive photography director Alix Campbell chimed in with similar thoughts.
Then Coles went over to the original post to explain the joke once again. She wrote:
This post is supposed to be a joke about men’s tendancy to exaggerate! Not a slur about the very stylist who makes regular magic on our covers.
Offended Instagram commenters responded by saying "uh huh, we get it, but it's still not funny." Here's a selection of comments following Coles's explanation:
"It's supposed to be funny but I find it hard to see the humor."
"@cosmopolitan how disgusting of you!!! You should be ashamed!! Men are such an amazing part of our industry and are some of the most amazing stylists out there!"
"This is actually really kind of crappy. I get its support to be a joke and be funny but it's really insulting. And if this was about women people would be outraged."
Some of the commenters even said they will ban Cosmopolitan from their salons:
"Hey @cosmopolitan just wanted to say fuck you from all the wonderfully talented men stylist out here ...we spend our lives as a minority in our industry trying to find affirmation...your magazine had lost its privilege to be in my waiting room"
"no more @cosmopolitan magazine in my salon"
"I'll be sure the @cosmopolitan subscription at the salon is cancelled. I will not stand behind a company that expresses ignorant views such as this."
Racked reached out to Cosmopolitan for a statement on the Instagram post, and we'll update as necessary if we hear back.