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PHAT Magazine

3434 Russell
St. 209
Detroit, Michigan 49207

Le'Ticia Fisher

By Tunde Wey
September 27, 2013

If you’re a woman then you might have been living under the iron thumb of a cruel regime; one insistent on a strict, impractical and almost impossible definition of beauty - tall, thin, white and young. This indelible standard of beauty, completely artificial and superficial, has been carefully crafted, over generations, with the help of mass media: television, films, art and magazines. Magazines might be the most cruel tool employed in the peddling of this unrealistic standard of beauty; its models - perfectly set and canonized forever, dripping in warm light, obscured appropriately by seductive shadow - are mostly manipulated, overly-sexualized caricatures of themselves.
Then there are different standard bearers, people who look at the absurdity of what is now truth and refuse to play along. Le’Ticia Fisher founded PHAT Magazine because the ridiculously profitable circus that is the fashion industry upholds a beauty ideal completely disassociated from the majority of women’s lives. Her revolt is one of common sense.
"The idea of PHAT Magazine came because I kind of got tired of seeing so many mainstream fashion magazines only showcase one body type," says Fisher. "No one was showing multiple body types. High fashion magazines showcase the high fashion girls and your plus size magazine showcase (exclusively) plus sizes. I wanted to showcase as many sizes as I could."
PHAT Magazine describes itself as the "The world’s 1st international pro-curve fashion magazine." PHAT Magazine is really a response to the tyrannical sorting of women by such perfunctory qualifications as size - a progression of even-numbered tiers that assign women greater value the closer they are to zero. 
And it arrives not a minute too soon when you consider that the dress size for the average American woman is 14, compared to the formal fashion industry standard of 12- 24 for the plus size category (the informal plus size measurements for modeling agencies is a lot lower, sometimes starting at a size 6).
The issue Fisher is addressing extends past proportions to pigment. For a time the high fashion industry has been rightly criticized for its lack of racial diversity in its choice of models. Fisher, an African American, is also using PHAT Magazine to reinforce this protest.
"No one is doing what we’re doing. No one showcases the range of body shapes, body sizes, color. We are a diverse magazine."
Fisher is right; there are few, if any, doing what PHAT Magazine is doing, not only addressing the larger cultural issue of the definition of beauty but also the more technical (and equally daunting) task of trying to revive a moribund industry - print.
With magazine subscriptions in decline, Fisher is innovating by providing PHAT in an on-demand format.
She says, "We are an on-demand print publication; you can get the book printed on your demand. You can go to www.phat-magazine.com and purchase the publication either online or have it printed and delivered to you. A lot of magazines make the mistake of starting too big, trying to place the magazine in too many places before the brand is known yet."
Fisher is a veteran of the fashion industry having worked bi-coastally as a fashion photographer, wardrobe stylist, make-up artist, creative director and more. Her experience in the industry allowed her to spot the glaring gap in fashion publication offerings. However, her decision to return to Detroit and base PHAT Magazine from the city stood in opposition to this experience, and conventional wisdom.
"I could have been anywhere, based on my background. I actually had people trying to get me to go to L.A. because it made sense; there are a lot of resources are out there. I chose to stay here out of my love for the city, this is the city that created and shaped me."
Fisher is now a part of the Detroit Creative Corridor (DC3) Ventures Program, which she credits as also being a chief consideration in her decision to stay in Detroit.
"I knew it would be a challenge but I thought it would be worth it. I have to give credit to DC3, they are one of the reasons why we chose to stay here in Detroit. It’s definitely not easy to run the magazine from Detroit, when a lot of the designers and major brands are not here.  (DC3 is) pretty much doing exactly what we are trying to do, which is to build the Detroit creative community."
Fisher is serving the fashion industry a healthy dose of reality and the demand seems ravenous as evidenced by PHAT Magazine’s growth; after just releasing its first issue a couple of months ago, its circulation is already around 5000. 
Starting a business is never easy, especially one that breaks from convention, but as long as industry behemoths ignore reality then publications like Fisher’s will be a welcome break from a sad norm because, as PHAT Magazine says so cheekily, "News flash: not everyone is a size 2 or 4."

All photos by Doug Coombe. 

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