View Full Version : Article about Figure, + and -

M. Lopez
8th August 2006, 15:04
I found a new article about Figure magazine. It indicates quite clearly the improvements that the revised version of the magazine has made, but also reveals one lingering and potentially crippling flaw.


Right away, the article indicates that the current editor understands where Grace and the previous Figure went wrong:

Tagged "Celebrating the Plus-Size Woman," Figure seeks to gain from the mistakes of plus-size titles past. One was presenting models who were anything less than plus-size, or sneaking in a dieting article among the health content.

The "less than plus-size" mistake was made by Grace (and even Mode, towards the end of its run), by using faux-plus models. The "sneaking in a dieting article" was notoriously Figure's own betrayal (and the diet ADS were absolute insults).

So eliminating these mistakes is very, very good. Also encouraging is the editor's emphasis on maintaining a positive tone:

"We looked very critically at the magazine and tried to identify what readers wanted, based on our research and what they were currently getting," says Figure's new editor, BJ Towe. "What came out of that is a celebration of the plus-size woman."

Says Towe: "It's very uplifting, very empowering We're creating a place where plus-size women can go and know they are among friends."

I especially appreciate how the magazine emphasizes that it is for plus-size women, even making that clear on the title, as the editor says:

"Before we re-launched the magazine, we did a cover test, with one cover that said plus-size on it, and another that did not. Hands down, the plus-size reference beat the other one.

So that's all good.

But, I am very worried about the magazine's supposed age demographic, and the association with fortysomething More. This was the other huge mistake made by Grace: It felt like a magazine for senior citizens. The content was dull and uninspiring. Mode was so much more youthful and exciting.

Figure can think its readers are any age they wish, but no one wants to buy a geriatric, boring magazine. Figure should definitely keep its content young and vibrant - not in some ugly "punk" or "grunge" manner, but in the way Mode did - with energy, with youthful models, and with a really inspiring kind of fantasy.

14th August 2006, 14:03
<br>The benefits to a magazine of maintaining a younger tone are considerable. Whereas older readers can appreciate content that exhibits a youthful sensibility (anyone can feel young at heart), younger readers will <i>never</i> be interested in a publication if it appears to be "for old people."

Beyond its freshness, <i>Mode</i> also won favour because it exhibited extraordinarily high production values--far beyond those of any other plus-size magazine, before or since. (Only Britain's <i>Yes</i> ever came close.) <i>Mode</i> could sit on magazine racks alongside the likes of <i>Vogue</i> and <i>Elle,</i> and easily stand the comparison. It felt <i>legitimate.</i> Its level of quality made full-figured readers feel like they were on the same footing as their underweight rivals, because <i>their</i> representatives (the plus-size models) were photographed just as beautifully as the waifs. The poor visual and technical quality of other plus-size publications made their readers feel like they were second-best, as if they didn't deserve a magazine of equal calibre to the anorex-chic fashion glossies.

Something else that made the early <i>Mode</i> truly unique was its special ambience. Reading <i>Mode</i> felt like being on vacation. Each issue was a holiday. The editorials breathed a spirit of relaxation mixed with fun, indulgence mixed with playfulness. It was, in every sense, <i>feminine.</i>

And the fashion was truly ahead of its time. <i>Mode</i> was putting its models in lace camisoles long before either lace or camisoles came back into fashion (as seen below). And the magazine absolutely delighted in the fact that its models exhibited soft, natural, curvy figures, rather than "toned," straight-size-looking physiques.

To achieve <i>Mode</i>'s popularity, all that a plus-size magazine would have to do would be to copy its formula. However, there is one territory that <i>Mode</i> never explored, and this provides an opportunity for a successor magazine to do something new and original--and that is, to capitalize on the New Romanticism. This was perfectly exemplified by the "Romantic Lines" editorial in the last issue of <i>Figure</i>--a layout that won unanimous approval with readers. The "New Femininity" in fashion was still years away when <i>Mode</i> breathed its last, which means that a present-day publication could be guided by the <i>Mode</i> spirit, yet also explore Romantic territory of its own.

Just think: folkloric styles in Old World environments; lace attire in Gothic settings; the possibilities are endless . . .

Page from <i>Mode</i> 1997 (which could just as easily be 2007):<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/nl/nl03.jpg"></center><p>(Model: Natalie Laughlin)

31st August 2006, 16:44
I haven't seen the newest issue yet, but things unfortunately do NOT bode well for Figure, at least according to this article:


It says that the magazine will contain "fewer fashion photos."

Fewer fashion photos?? This is so utterly misguided!! The sole and entire point of a plus-size magazine is to show the public images of full-figured models, represting plus-size beauty; to show the public something that it doesn't see anywhere else.

I can get "articles by big-name authors" from any magazine. The one and only thing that a publication like Figure can deliver, the one and only thing that would make me want to buy it, is because it shows gorgeous fashion photography on models who are truly curvaceous, and truly beautiful. If it doesn't do that, the whole project is meaningless.