Plus size magazines don’t have a great record for staying in print – I still hear mournful comments directed towards the fashion staple Mode (hilariously now the name of the fictional pub on Ugly Betty) .
There are strides forward in on-line plus size fashion, but I get the sense that there is some struggle regarding content. As far as I can tell, most of the articles skim the surface of what every woman’s magazine covers, with special emphasis on oh-so-carefully worded articles about food and health. As to the fashion, that’s tricky: mainstream women’s magazines don’t shoot “consumer” fashion – they don’t seriously expect their readers to buy the clothing they display. If they do, perhaps editorial staff should cut back on visiting whoever gives them their prescriptions. But in plus size clothing, all there is is consumer fashion – there aren’t any plus size designers I know of that are exploring fashion as art. Consequently, the rest of the dialog in these plus magazines is entirely consumer oriented without stepping forward into any of the political or intellectual challenges that are what actually drive readers to pick up or read the next issue.
Which is strange to me, because the plus size market has the most potential for politics and controversy. Mainstream editors know well that women’s perception of themselves is by far one of the most controversial and copy-selling topics around. We are expected to conform our bodies to another ideal in complete defiance of how biology works every ten years – it’s a rich, infinitely mineable angle.
And there are so many aspects of women’s lives that are talked about in mainstream magazines that could use some real discussion.
For example, Marie Claire just ran an article about changes in birth control options. A plus focused magazine could run an article about exactly how/why there is weight gain from certain hormonal combinations related to birth control.
Given the number of powerfully-written fat acceptance blogs out there, there could be endless writing done on the views of the medical community and what they’re founded in. The long-term impact of products to “make you thin.” Whether it’s important to try to look thin when you’re just not. The same makeup and skincare tips would still apply.
But for this to happen credibly, fashion-as-art has to lead the way.
Right now there are some light, pleasant reads available online for those who want to explore. Once in awhile, I can catch a new designer through these: