Gym Towel / weight loss

A Letter to Shape Magazine…

What were you thinking?!

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.

What happened?!

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 FairVogue, 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.

Yours truly,

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?


13 thoughts on “A Letter to Shape Magazine…

  1. WOW! Like you, i read Shape since way back when! Even years a go, I saw it go more beauty & other stuff but I still found good fitness & workout articles so I kept it but I stopped subscribing a couple years ago, I think. It was so much more a Glamour than the stuff I was looking for & I have not seen these new issues. And Honestly, I tried to be a reader model so many times for Shape. I realize lots apply but I was applying when showing that older ladies 40-50’s can be a great inspiration & they did not start showing older ladies till the last couple years which just got me irked….

  2. As you can tell from my post – I totally agree with you Jody. I emailed my letter to Shape’s Readers Speak Out (I know it won’t get printed, but it’s important for Shape to know).

    We are off to work. Jimmy will be getting his workout in at Trader Joe’s. I will be doing mine via video later this afternoon.

  3. So this is what I think about Shape Magazine, if you want to talk about sex and diet pills, thats fine, but you should not do it in a fitness magazine.

  4. DITTO! I opened my Shape magazine this month, one night after I returned home from dinner, and I said to my husband “What is all this crap.” Then I complained for about 15 minutes, saying all the stuff as stated above, then I actually threw it in the garbage this is huge because I love to hold onto my fitness magazines!! Come on Shape get back to real fitness!!!!

  5. One more comment, I wish everyone would re-post this on their blog site so we can gain some momentum on this issue and get back to real fitness with real people and no pills!!!

  6. Pingback: JTEC II NEWS ARTICLES » Blog Archive » A Letter to Shape Magazine…

  7. I got forwarded this blog post and wanted to say a couple of things:

    Thank you for your kind words about the magazine under my helm; I can only say that my passion for living a healthy, fit life is what inspired me as did the countless conversations I had with all my former Shape readers.

    And never lose that passion, that enthusiasm, that energy, that drive for living your best life. THAT is what helped drive the vision of Shape for so many years.

    I’m trying to re-create some of that inspiration in my blog here on wordpress ( and on my website, which for now is called just (stay tuned for more). You can also follow me on Twitter at vlatonaINSHAPE. I hope that I can continue to be inspired by you all, so please stay in touch.


    • Thank you so much for commenting. It was so kind of you. We will definitely keep up with you via your blog and twitter and we look forward to many more years of being inspired by your passionate love for fitness and life! All the best.

    • I am with you Valerie a 100%. The current issue of Shape….not good at all. It is a shame that they let you go. You were doing such an excellent job. You helped a lot of readers with their physical issues and gave to health a different turn. It was fresh, inspiring…it trully gave the desire to carry the magazine anywhere…and like me…I love to read over and over something I really like. That was your work…to bad for Shape…they let go an intelligent, energetic, smart Editor like you.

      Your #1 fan

Comments are closed.