Shape’s EIC: ‘Women Have to Stop Saying They’re Fat!’

The roster of media mavens, moguls and boldface names spotted today at Michael's.

Diane Clehane and Elizabeth Goodman Artis

DianeClehaneLunch_FeaturedThe faithful flock have returned to Michael’s. A smattering of boldface names (Star Jones, Donny Deutsch, Bill McCuddy) were sprinkled around the dining room. No one — but me, of course — seemed to notice that television titan Dick Wolf slipped in just after 1 o’clock with Edie Falco. Could the Emmy-winning actress be headed back to series television? Stay tuned.

I was joined today by Elizabeth Goodman Artis, Shape’s editor in chief, and Meredith’s vice president of communications, Patrick Taylor, who came armed with the latest issues. Actress Kate Beckinsale, who is currently making the PR rounds promoting her new film, is on the January/February cover. I told Elizabeth I noticed a decidedly more stylish and stylized look to Shape’s covers last year and found the issues that featured Khloe Kardashian and Lea Michele particularly eye-catching. (More on those ladies later)

Diane Clehane and Elizabeth Goodman Artis
Diane Clehane and Elizabeth Goodman Artis

Elizabeth is a veteran of the health-fitness books, having worked at Fitness, Prevention (and before joining Shape three years ago. Her first order of business when she landed at the top of the masthead was “to bring joy to the magazine.” A longtime scuba diving enthusiast who is planning to go “wreck diving” in March, Elizabeth said, “I wanted to figure out ways to make exercise joyful. There is a connection between emotion and physical health. They’re not silos.”

Strict edicts about diets and the ‘Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!’ type of thing have no place on Shape’s pages. “That type of thing is over as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “We don’t make easy promises.”

“It’s about personalized goals,” she said. “For years the readers in this space were underestimated.” Women in Shape’s key demo of ages 18-40 consider “wellness” a lifestyle. “Millennials want a flexibility to live their life. It’s not finite.”

Elizabeth is also on a mission to do away with pages of exercises that differentiate between “beginners” and more “advanced” exercisers. ” Her solution: the forthcoming “scale” symbol which will appear on the pages and can be scanned to give readers different options depending on their fitness level. “Anybody can do a plank for two seconds. Scale it down If you can only do that, do two seconds and the next time try for three. It takes the intimidation out of exercise.”

Between bites of salad nicoise, Elizabeth sounded most passionate when she talked about the issue of body shaming that permeates the culture. “I say to women ‘You are not fat! Stop calling yourself fat! Women have been subjected to so much body shaming for so many years. There is so much anxiety about women’s bodies. I want to change the conversation.”

With a total audience of 14.5 million, Elizabeth has the opportunity to change a lot minds. Shape’s digital platform garners an average of 6.2 million monthly uniques. Thanks to New Year’s resolutions, this month that number has spiked to nearly 9 million. Readers have embraced the “Love My Shape” campaign with #LovemySHAPE generating over 200 million impressions and 11,000 user-uploaded media.

Elizabeth has twice weekly meetings with Shape’s digital editor to keep the brand messaging in sync. The print and online staff write for both platforms. “The online editors love print because they get a byline and long lead time,” she said.

Shape’s full slate of consumer events is also part of the brand’s emphasis on positive messaging. The Women’s Half Marathon is one of the largest women’s-only race in the country which attracts 10,000 runners to Central Park every year. The next one is scheduled for April. The twice yearly Body Shop daylong event features workouts with celebrity trainers and workshops in New York and Los Angeles. “Lea Michele came in November and hung out and did Facebook Live,” said Elizabeth. All proceeds from the event go to the Movemeant Foundation which is dedicated to promoting positive self-image in young girls.

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