Michele Weston on MODE Magazine and The State of The Plus Size Modeling and Fashion Industry, 1/01/2011
by Madeline Figueroa Jones
As the founding Fashion and Style Director
of MODE Magazine, Michele Weston brought her knowledge and passion for plus
size women, to a ground-breaking magazine. Mode Magazine was every plus size
woman's monthly special treat, where she could go and be happy to be, herself.
Michele and MODE Magazine, were instrumental in helping to launch the careers
of many of the Icon's we are paying tribute to in this issue.
As a woman, who has seen and experience it
all, how does she see the current state of the plus size industry? Read below
as we chatted about all the "touchy" subjects that most people tend to shy away
from. Years later, Michele Weston remains passionate and optimistic that one
day, "they" will get it right.
Maddy: Tell me about Mode Magazine:
Michele: We started working on Mode in 1996 and the
first issue came out in the beginning of 1997. In the beginning we decided we
would only have six issues per year. The reaction from 62% of the population
was overwhelming and we quickly, went to 12 issues per year. We had an amazing
team at Mode, our Editor and publishers were people who believed in the vision
of Mode. We were a very diverse group who wanted to show variations of size,
ethnicities and style.
Maddy: What was it about the magazine that made
it such an instant success?
Michele: In my lifetime I have worn between a size
12 and 22, I knew the magazine was reaching plus size women by showing great
style and making them feel great in their own skin because I myself, felt good
The magazine was almost like a teaching guide,
it taught a generation of women about fashion and style options along with
visual aides. The goal was for readers to love themselves, no matter what their
size and to feel good in their clothing.
Maddy: I can remember some "racy"
editorials that really raised some eyebrows
Michele: Susan Moses has great ability to
push the page, and to dare herself to go beyond, sometimes my own, comfort
range. At times we pushed the envelope and I had to defend decisions we made,
because we were trying to come away from what people expected from a plus size
Maddy: Were you involved in the casting of
Michele: I casted models in the very
beginning, and I used size 18's like Sharon Quinn and I was happy to use
fleshy, bigger bodies. I came from a magazine back round, I worked inside
fashion houses like Anne Klein so I knew fashion, but now it was important to
translate it to plus size.
At that time the super models were Cindy
Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell. I dealt with girls with "real"
bodies. These girls were not starving themselves, and they were straight sized
Maddy: With so many beautiful models, how did
you decide which model was the one you were looking for?
Michele: When you are casting models, you
are looking for something, maybe it's the sparkle, or the potential or they
just have that look. There's a lot of very beautiful and very pretty women out
there, and some I believe are role models and then some are "models". Real "models"
are very far and few, no matter what size they are. I think sometimes women
think that if they become a model, they are celebrating their beauty, but there
are many ways to celebrate your beauty. Modeling is not the only way. Being on
the cover of a magazine does not make you more beautiful than anyone else;
confidence comes from inside and not from accomplishments.