Reviewed by: Christine Oka, Research & Instruction, Northeastern University Libraries, Boston, MA
This is not an ordinary health, fitness and lifestyle magazine The first issue of FabUplus features cover girl Whitney Way Thore, reality television star of My Big Fat Fabulous Life, writer and body positive activist. As she noted at a conference promoting the TLC reality show, “Fat prejudice is one of the last socially acceptable prejudices we have in America.” Diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome while in college, Thore described her struggle to lose weight, only to gain it back --and more. She was discovering loving her body and loving herself when she did a boudoir photo shoot and “was met with so much criticism at a time when I was first beginning to feel happy. I was strong enough to ignore it, but I know so many people worldwide struggle to feel confident in their own skin and I wanted to provide an outlet for people of all walks of life to celebrate themselves.” At the same time, founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of FabUplus, Shannon Svingen-Jones, another plus-size woman, was leading an active lifestyle: running, participating in triathlons and eating healthy. But she couldn’t find a fitness magazine she could relate to. “There are so many other benefits to exercise than just losing the weight.” She started a body positive Facebook group and connected with other like-minded women. With this initial market research, she found thousands of plus size women interested in a healthy, weight-neutral lifestyle. FabUplus began as an online magazine, but the Facebook group “wanted a real, physical print magazine they could buy on a newstand.”
In the Letter from the Editor, Svingen-Jones welcomes readers to the magazine “dedicated to plus sized, fat, plump, curvy,...whatever you want to call us, we are what we are and proud of it!” The body positive content doesn’t look at ways to lose weight; instead articles discuss “dumping the diet,” in order to “eat well, exercise and let your weight be what it will.” The eating well theme is carried over in “10 Hunger Fighting Foods” combinations of protein, fat and fiber-rich carbohydrates such as mashed avocado mixed with canned tuna or salmon on whole grain crackers. Summer Sizzler recipes include Juicy Grilled Hamburgers and Grilled Bacon Wrapped Asparagus. All of the above sound delicious.
Exercise articles range from beginner information, such as choosing the right running shoes, to basic arm-strengthening exercise-- not to firm up-- to help in daily tasks, such as carrying groceries or performing household chores. All of the content is weight neutral--there is no mention of losing weight with the subtext of "then you will be happy or then you will be healthy." This is discussed in an interview with Louise Greene, trainer and founder of Body Exchange, a fitness company with locations in Canada, exclusively for plus size clientele. “The primary philosophy behind the Body Exchange is to live limitlessly at any size. We gear that concept towards fitness, but I try to let that trickle down into all areas of people’s lives.” Her book on this subject will be published later this year, Limitless: The Size of Your Body Does Not Determine Your Athletic Dreams.
Other areas of people’s lives are covered limitlessly in the magazine, such as relationships, sex, beauty, and surprisingly, finances. The latter is about “Self-Worth and Net Worth, A Toxic Marriage?” The fashion articles are about the underrepresented demographic of plus sized women. Contributors to the summer issue include bloggers Marie Denee, the curvy fashionista, and Venessia, of Style4Curves, who answers plus sized fashion questions. There’s also an article about independent plus size retailers and challenges to Fashion Don’ts with suggested Do’s! Bold prints--yes!
The takeaway from reading FabUplus is reflected on the cover with “No BS” the No Body Shame movement founded by Whitney Way Thore. “The mission of the No Body Shame campaign is to help every individual overcome the debilitating effects of societal-induced shame. Supporters of No Body Shame have named weight, height, skin color, sexual orientation, gender, different abilities, and specific physical attributes as causes of shame.” As Svingen-Jones notes, “I hope that it lets plus size women know that they’re valued regardless of their size...and that they can have their best life in the body they have now.”