Dear Shape Magazine,
Since the 1980’s I have been reading Shape and watching it grow from a fledgling fitness magazine into the standard for the fitness industry. Shape was a wonderful, inspirational, informative resource for those looking to get in shape, stay in shape, or get up-to-date on the latest fitness trends.
Each month I looked forward to reading Shape. I looked forward to being re-energized by the fresh approach of the magazine, by the success stories, the fabulous recipes, and by the creative workouts. Shape helped me think and move in new ways.
Shape recently replaced Valerie Latona with new Editor-in-Chief, Tara Kraft. To get a visual idea of what a difference a change in leadership has made, just look at the pictures the two editors chose for their monthly Shape editorial page:
On the left, Valerie Latona, down-to-earth, Shape reader since college. On the right, Tara Kraft, a Ford model (you can tell this from the vanity pose, right down to the wind (fan) blown hair – what a cliché). Oh, and I forgot to mention, Kraft’s most recent gig was as the Beauty and Fashion Editor for Star, which explains a lot about what I am going to say.
The new Shape is terrible. The February 2011 issue (the first issue under the new editor) was slightly disappointing, but I chalked it up to the transition. March 2011 was worse. The format looks like a tabloid magazine filled with ad, after ad, after ad, after ad, after ad…(By the way, until I started writing this post I didn’t know Kraft previously worked for Star – which helps me to better understand the tabloid impression/feel).
Here are some of Shape’s worst gaffes (besides hiring the beauty and fashion editor of Star):
(1) The new Shape is more about sex, losing weight with pills, and fashion than about living a healthy life. Hey Shape, if I wanted to read Cosmo, Vogue, Vanity Fair, or Star I would have subscribed to them.
Some examples of the kinds of articles being published now in Shape:
Sex in the Digital Age, Get Busy Before Breakfast (for the old Shape this would have meant, get your behind out of bed and get your workout in BEFORE having other kinds of fun), Beauty on the Fly, Color Yourself Confident, Beauty Rescue (there seems to be a lot of beauty rescuing going on with the new Shape), Brows that Wow, From Downward Dog to I Do, and Libido Boosting Foods.
(2) The new Shape is filled with lose weight quick ads, e.g., Hydroxy Cut, Xenadrine, SlimQuick, Fastin — full-page ads juxtaposed with Shape ‘Fit’ tips (hmmmm, this does not seem to jibe with Shape’s philosophy about losing weight and getting in shape).
(3) Where’s the Fit? In the new Shape the ‘fit’ part does not begin until page 101. Oh, how I long for the days of yore when Shape was a magazine that meant something…that stood for something.
So here is my suggestion…FIND YOUR IDENTITY Shape. If you want to be a fitness magazine, then you need to replace your new editor or rethink your new approach. If you want to be a low-budget version of Cosmo, Vanity Fair, Vogue, or Star keep doing what you’re doing – you’re right on track.
Until things change, I will not be renewing my subscription to Shape. If you feel the same — speak up — tell Shape that the leader in women’s fitness is dangerously close to losing its crown.
P.S. There is speculation that Valerie Latona was asked to resign due to the backlash from the LeAnn Rimes cover photo (October 10). Where is your backbone Shape?