More on things that change and those that don't
by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer Ph.D.

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As I'm trying to get this issue of Dimensions finished in time for the National NAAFA Convention in Los Angeles, I've been thinking some more about all the changes that have occurred since we started the magazine almost 15 years ago. In my last editorial I talked about how much easier it is these days for FAs and large people to find materials of interest, and each other. This is partially due to the tenacious efforts--year-in, year-out--of organizations like NAAFA, and partially because information is so much easier to find today thanks to the Internet and the web. And perhaps Dimensions also contributed in some small ways in our efforts to portray big women as attractive and desirable, both inside and outside.

I often reminisce how I used to output text for the first issues of Dimensions (then called FA-SIG) on an old daisy-wheel printer and then paste up the 24-page "magazine." As we grew through the years, we saw other publications come and go, such as MAGNA, It's Me!, and Plus Woman. We saw Carole Shaw's reign at BBW Magazine come to an end, and witnessed BUF's then revolutionary switch to an "all-fat" format (did you know that the letters BUF stand for "Big Up Front," indicating the mag's origin as a big bust publication?) I remember how we used to spend less than 500 dollars to produce, print, and mail Dimensions, less than half of what it costs us to do pre-press alone these days. And how I used to do the magazine while holding a full-time career as an information systems manager in a large company.

So much has changed, and so much hasn't. For example, publishing is my career now. I have partners, and in addition to Dimensions we're publishing two commercial titles, Pen Computing Magazine and Digital Camera Magazine. While the work on the commercial magazines consumes a lot of my time, Dimensions benefits from all the publishing technology and extra resources we now have at our disposal. I love this business.

What hasn't changed is the struggle to get every issue out on time, to have enough subscribers to pay the bills, and the daily dealing with all sorts of interesting people who either hate us (and all too often themselves) or love us. And our ongoing effort of trying to address both FAs and the fat people they admire and desire still costs us distribution and advertising because magazines are supposed to focus on target audiences, rather than bringing diverse groups together.

Sometimes I wonder why we continue to pursue the goal of being a forum where FAs and fat people can get to know each other. It'd be so much easier (let alone commercially viable) to simply do a large size fashions magazine, or a hard core fat magazine. As is, while we have many devoted supporters who have been with us almost since day one, many men are not interested in Dimensions because we don't do nudity and the typical adult magazine poses, and many large women are horrified because we show the tantalizing, unique beauty of fat female bodies. Most people just don't know what to make of a magazine with 40,000 words of text and pictures of female models. Maybe one of these days I'll look back and wonder why I did it for all these years. For the time being, I still believe that fat women and their admirers need a place to find each other and learn about each other.

Incidentally, several people asked on our online bulletin boards why there aren't more pictures and features of fat Asian women. I poked around the web and found that while almost all Western "adult" sites have "BBW" categories by now, none of the Asian ones do. In the process I found something else that's interesting: while many Asian cultures are male-dominated, nudity seems far less common than in Western society. I am certainly no expert on Asian customs, but it appears that in Japan, for example, male fantasies are expressed and fueled more by animes-—cartoon-like drawings-—than by pictures of real women. Animes generally follow a common style, yet are depicted in all the areas of sexual interests we're familiar with, and then some. I wonder how Japanese women feel about them. Drawings do not show live women, there are no model releases, and no one has to worry whether her parents sees her pictures in a magazine or on the web. I asked a feminist friend what she thought of the anime approach. Her opinion was that it's still exploitation.

Sometimes I guess I just don't understand why the male expression of sexual interest in women is invariably considered exploitive whereas the different interest of females in males is not. This will likely remain a prime issue in the battle of the sexes (genders?), and, of course, one that we at Dimensions are confronted with on a daily basis.

By far the biggest changes are due to the Internet. I am spending a lot of time (and resources) on our websites. I've been told that Dimensions Online is among the top five percent of all websites in terms of traffic. At a time were many websites are little more than a collection of banner ads and a bit of teaser content, I've been keeping Dimensions Online pretty much commercial-free (not that we wouldn't appreciate a bit of ad support from the folks who benefit from our work) and full of ever-changing content. Our four bulletin boards (the Dimensions general, the Weight board, the Chat board, and the new female FA/big guys board) became so successful that our landlord kicked us off his server because of all the traffic. So now Dimensions has its own (and much faster) webserver. At this point I'd also like to publicly thank Dani Osborne who's doing a fantastic job as our online editor. Dani's both a dynamite resource and a very attractive, six-foot-one supersize woman. Maybe one of these days we can convince her to be featured in the magazine.

I hope you enjoy this issue! ß

Editor at Large