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Past and Present
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BBW Past and Present

Dear Members of the BBW Community,

As you've probably noticed, the BBW Magazine website has a new look. Over the past few years, the site has been on an extended hiatus - not because we stopped believing in the power of plus-size beauty, but because the realities of the print publishing business forced us to step back and regroup. When circumstances caused us to suspend publication of the print magazine, it was a devastating blow. It wasn't something we planned or wanted. In truth, we continued publication for longer than it was prudent to do so because our passion for "the cause" was so strong. The unfortunate fact of life is that publishing print magazines has become a very expensive proposition - one that is not only hurting small publishers, but that is also impacting most of the very large publishers.

We feel that, in the few years that we published BBW, we put out some of the best issues in the history of the magazine. For a long time, we felt we could prevail because of the wonderful support you have given us. Unfortunately, advertiser support simply didn't come through, and advertising support is what allows the presses to run.

Ultimately, we were forced to face the reality of this new age of publishing, and so the print version of BBW ceased to exist. Although this new era presented us with challenges, it also presented us with wonderful opportunities. One such opportunity is the emergence of web-based communities that have the potential to reach far more people in far better ways than a mere print magazine ever could. What you're seeing now, with this revamped website, is our effort to morph BBW Magazine into such a web community. Hopefully, this community will, over time, grow and flourish and provide you with a greater quantity and better quality of information than the old magazine ever could.

We're currently in the process of converting BBW Magazine's archives into an online format. Most of the information contained in the articles is timeless, and other information - such as fashion trend reports from years past - can serve to both entertain us and remind us that fashion trends always make a comeback.

We'll supplement archival material with relevant news and information for the plus-size community. Former BBW Editor Sally Smith shares her thoughts on all things plus in her blog, while the site's section pages contain up-to-date news and links to the archived articles. We will continue to expand the site in the future, incorporating new features that will serve to inform and entertain you.

To those of you who subscribed to the print magazine, we hope you understand that we did our best. Unlike a large publisher, we didn't have the luxury of offering you a subscription to another print magazine. We hope that this site, with its emerging resources, will in some small way compensate those of you who were affected by this.

We're extremely excited to be able to offer the plus-size community this new incarnation of BBW Magazine. We hope you enjoy your time here, and come back to visit us often!

A Short History of BBW Magazine

Those of you who are interested in the history of BBW Magazine, you may be in for a surprise. There was actually a time when the term "BBW" did not exist. A woman named Carole Shaw came up with the terms "Big Beautiful Woman" and "BBW" and decided to launch a magazine over a quarter of a century ago - in 1979, to be exact. Carole began publishing BBW Magazine and it quickly became a unique resource for Big Beautiful Women everywhere - a resource that grew and endured for decades.

Eventually, BBW became more than a magazine. BBW held fashion shows, delved into merchandising, launched a friendship service, held an annual model search, and initiated several other ventures. Even in those days, however, it became clear that a small publishing organization could not compete in the brutal world of magazine publishing. Eventually, Carole Shaw sold the magazine to a much larger publishing company. LFP, Inc. went on to publish BBW Magazine with essentially the same staff. However, despite the rapidly growing name recognition of the magazine, and especially the trademarked term "BBW," even LFP could not make publishing the magazine financially feasible. In the late 1990s, it ceased publication.

Some of us could simply not conceive of a world without BBW Magazine. At that point, we purchased BBW Magazine's trademarks from LFP and decided, against all odds, to give it our best shot. For four years, we published BBW Magazine, and we feel that the issues we produced were probably the very best in the distinguished history of the magazine.

As the Internet came of age, even we were surprised by the enormous name recognition that the term "BBW" generated, and by the number of people who used it on their personal websites and in their screen names and email addresses. And we were dismayed that the term was used for virtual endeavors that disparaged the spirit of the term "BBW." Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about the illegal use of our trademark by the adult entertainment industry. But what we can do is to continue to build on the foundation of positive energy, positive self-awareness, and empowerment that is the legacy of BBW Magazine.

The Torch is Passed

Janey Milstead, who was a former editor and 15-year veteran of BBW Magazine, wrote the following article for the June 1999 issue of BBW, the first issue published under its new owner.

Two score and more years ago, our foremother, Carole Shaw, brought forth a new notion, conceived in exasperation and inspiration and dedicated to the proposition that all women are not created of equal size.

That notion resulted in BBW Magazine. The publication was born in a Los Angeles suburb known as the San Fernando Valley and a decade ago moved to Beverly Hills 90210, home of the beautiful people.

There's plenty of evidence that this notion endures. While the threads of size prejudice still run through the current social fabric, they are starting to loosen and fray. The public, the media and the health care profession are beginning to get the picture that weight is not a character flaw. Even major corporations - such as Kellogg's, The Body Shop, and even La-Z-Boy - are incorporating size-friendly scenarios into their advertisements.

In some of these ads, size bigotry is quashed. In others, people of all sizes are featured in order to sell non-size related products - a long-overdue acknowledgement that people of all sizes use commodities of all kinds. And speaking of size-is-not-an-issue situations, congrats to Emme on being signed as a spokesmodel for Revlon - not for their plus-size makeup line, but for Revlon, period. Now, that's progress!

Positive signs appear in the fashion world, too. Just look around you. Navy blue and other conservative hues used to hide our ample bods; now we're a veritable rainbow. Silks and other natural fibers have replaced bulletproof polyester. Designs have gone from hideous flowered tops and floats to creations from the world's major fashion houses.

In the past 20 years, BBW and its readers have helped build a $30 billion per year plus-size garment industry - what a far cry from the old days when almost nothing was spent adding to our plus-size beauty.

On the personal side, heads are held higher, voices are stronger and self-esteem is healthier. We have built a new confidence among plus-size women. There is much to be proud of.

All this has evolved over the years, but the world must note and long remember what we say here - that change must continue to be our goal. We now need to take our self-acceptance and turn it into a celebration of our beauty. We are strong. We are vital. We are the fireworks of our own independence as we go from being fizzle bombs to skyrockets in reaching our true magnificence. Dynamite!

While we continue to win the war for dignity, we look back with gratitude at the soldiers who channeled their time and talents into BBW, including those who are no longer with us except in spirit. But no matter what you may have heard, BBW does not belong in that category of long-lost soldiers. We have merely had another change of address.

We have not had a change of intent. BBW will continue to care about the inside as well as the outside of our readers. Thus, looking forward, we highly resolve that all of the effort that has gone before shall not be in vain and the quest for acceptance of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this big beautiful earth.

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