Reflections at the Occassion of Our 75th Issue
by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer Ph.D.

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This is our 75th issue and we've been around for almost 13 years. Those of you who were there in the beginning will remember the first few issues of Dimensions being nothing more than thin 24-page photocopied newsletters. But we had big plans and Dimensions kept growing and growing until it became the glossy magazine you're now holding in your hands. Along the way we had to make some difficult decisions. For example, it's been our goal from the beginning to make Dimensions a forum for both genders, a place where fat people and their admirers could learn about each other. As you can imagine, this hasn't been an easy task. Talk about Martians and Venusians! Often we were tempted to just give in and target FAs only. But we didn't because it's just so obvious how much we have to learn about each other, and there really isn't another place where fat women can learn what motivates their admirers, and vice versa.

We also chose to grow slowly and always stay within our means. We've seen too many magazines enter the market with a big splash only to disappear after a few issues, leaving the people who helped them create and print the magazine with unpaid bills. We decided to add more pages, glossier paper, and more color only when we could afford it, and to never incur any debt. We also decided to keep our advertising rates almost absurdly low in order to make them affordable to fledgling businesses in the size acceptance movement. For almost a decade, I published Dimensions while working full-time in my career as an information systems professional. It was tough to do the magazine every other month, but it also provided a welcome diversion. Dimensions kept growing, we added the personals and friendship lines, and eventually decided to run Dimensions as a full-time business. So we started Shardco, a publishing company that produces Dimensions, the Dimensions Online website, and our sister publication, Pen Computing Magazine.

So where do we stand as we're getting ready to send our 75th magazine to the printer? We're pretty pleased with what we've accomplished. Dimensions is the largest magazine in the size acceptance field, though we certainly don't have the largest circulation (that distinction goes to BBW and PBW magazines, both of which have more mainstream missions). We're thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive feedback we're getting from our readers of both genders. We're disappointed that despite increasing professionalism we haven't managed to attract the kind of advertising sponsors which would enable us to elevate the publication to the next level of growth. We're also frustrated about our inability to establish good national newsstand and bookstore distribution, which means that Dimensions is hard to find for those who do not subscribe. We're happy to have been able to help many couples find each other through our print and voice personal ads. We're thrilled with the large number of interesting, attractive fat women who want to be featured in our magazine. We're frustrated that despite our increasingly sophisticated computer and publishing equipment, the color still occasionally comes out wrong. We're thrilled about having attracted some absolutely first class columnists, writers, and experts. We're frustrated that some people will never get the benefit of that excellent writing because they either view Dimensions as a sexist macho rag whose sole purpose is to exploit women (after almost 20 years in the size acceptance movement, and with having some of the foremost leaders in the size acceptance movement write for Dimensions, that always gets me mad), or they dismiss us because, while we celebrate the beauty of the fat female body, we don't do nudity or pornography.

I've grown and changed on a personal level, too. I'm in my mid-40s now. My hair is more salt than pepper (though mostly still accounted for), and I now have a beard for the first time since I was 20. I realized my lifelong dream of living in California which, to me, truly is the Golden State. After many years of being politically very active in the size acceptance movement (I was NAAFA's chairman of the board for eight years) I am now supporting this cause, which remains central in my life, in different ways. I now have a little son who I am absolutely crazy about. I learned that I am as capable of making mistakes and bad choices as anyone else.

Yet doing Dimensions remains the same challenge and joy as it has always been. New people of all age groups discover size acceptance every day. People realize that it's okay to have a preference for a fat partner. Fat people realize that perhaps they're okay after all and take the first timid steps towards self-acceptance. I want Dimensions to be there if they need a magazine to affirm their new beliefs, to show them they're not alone, to give them what they can't find anywhere else, or just to give them a little lift.

I am also fascinated by the huge opportunities opening to size acceptance by the lnternet and the Web. Not only does the Web represent a critically important part of the future of publishing, it is also fundamentally changing the way people commune, communicate, and get things done. It no longer takes weeks and months for important information to reach the outskirts of the community. I've been discussing some of the implications of that on the Dimensions Online website which, incidentally, keeps growing in leaps and bounds. By the time you read this, the front page of our website will have been accessed more than half a million times in just over ten months. And that's just the beginning. We're in the process of merging Dimensions Online with Dani Osborne's bbwqt site. Dani will be Dimensions Online's editor and you'll probably hear much more from her in the pages of the magazine also.

Have a great summer!

Editor at Large