An indifferent Figure

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Posted by HSG on May 22, 2005 at 01:00:44:

After several years in a row of seeing the magazine industry produce so-called "body love" issues filled with mixed messages about weight and beauty, and after the shocking revelations of Spin Sisters, this site swore off magazines, in a manner of speaking. And because the March/April issue of Figure magazine featured a return to diet ads (a complete and irresponsible betrayal of the magazine's readers, once again), it did not even warrant discussion.

But the forthcoming debut of Beautiful magazine has kindled a flicker of hope that size celebration might actually return to the publishing world. And with that in mind, perhaps it is worth offering a few comments in passing about the current (May/June) issue of Figure magazine.

Mercifully, the diet ads have once again been relegated to the sidelines, except for a completely unnecessary and distasteful promotion from some low-calorie drink. But everyone should have realized by now that this magazine could revert to its hostile practices at any time. And although the magazine doesn't have any explicit lose-weight-or-die stories, it does seem strangely obsessed with exercise, food choices, and with physicality in general--as if those were the most important things in life. There is more to life than the numbers on the scale, and an off-putting tone of negativity and dire warning ("watch out") is still a part of this magazine.

The best images in the issue undoubtedly belong to Maiysha, in a golden Lane Bryant ad:

Click to enlarge

and to Nadia:

Click to enlarge

Nadia's image is sweet and gentle, providing a fascinating contrast with her current Torrid cover. The model herself is a truly gorgeous talent with goddesslike proportions, although her other Figure images hardly go her justice. Even this blue top has a peculiar cut.

The rest of the layouts in the issue vary. They are colourful, but none are particularly memorable. "Crinkle, Crinkle" is a shade better than the rest.

There is a Barbara Brickner Catherines ad; however, if you do get the issue, compare that ad to the infinitely more gorgeous image of Mrs. Brickner in the same skirt, in the current Catherines flyer (and featured in the recent "Beauty of a Woman's Arm" essay on this forum).

For two issues in a row, Figure has made questionable cover choices, and one wonders if the magazine wouldn't inspire more pride and loyalty if the covers were more attractive. In the past, Figure created at least two covers that were utterly sensational, and elicited an amazing public response.

Ultimately, there really isn't anything about the magazine that makes it a must have, the way Mode was. And there is no reason why it couldn't be. If the visual quality of the magazine has plateaued--so be it. The articles could easily be more affirmative and positive, and it could give its readers credit for having more on their minds than the numbers on the scale, or the contents of the pantry.

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