Michelle Stacey – Deputy Editor, Shape
Any exercise junkie will tell you: starting a workout regimen is hard, and sticking to the plan is even harder; but the payoff is worth it in the end. And for a casual newcomer it’s frustrating because those gym rats locked in the groove of things make it look so easy. The frustration, of course, is not borne of contempt, but a lazy desire to get that cardiovascular endurance, and those toned muscles, without putting in the effort.
Michelle Stacey, the recently appointed deputy editor at Shape, is one of those self-proclaimed “gym rats.” A nutrition and exercise enthusiast since her early 20s, Stacey applied the same strict discipline to her career and has an impressively fit résumé to show for it.
Over two decades of steady journalistic exercise gave Stacey the endurance of a champion marathon runner. Beyond her previous top-editing jobs at Mademoiselle, Cosmopolitan and Whole Living, Stacey found time to raise her kids, publish two non-fiction books and maintain a robust freelance career, with contributions to theNew Yorker, Harper’s and New York Times Magazine among other publications.
Stacey explained that each job provided unique insight that prepared her for Shape.
“My experience at Cosmo was particularly useful in terms of cover lines,” she said. “At Mademoiselle I honed my editorial instincts for new and fresh ways to approach and package stories, especially in terms of ‘thinking outside the box’ about how to make larger cultural and trend stories work for a particular audience.”
At Shape, Stacey is most excited to share these years of experience with the magazine’s young staff.
“They’re a great bunch, full of fresh ideas and enthusiasm,” she chimed. “I’ve always liked mentoring, and that’s definitely a part of this job.”
As for the magazine’s editorial mission, Stacey finds a personal connection through her own healthy habits and previous coverage of women’s health issues in print.
“Working at women’s magazines has…been an incredible education in women’s attitudes towards food and their bodies, including the scourge of eating disorders,” she said. “Health, fitness [and] nutrition are all things I love to think about and learn about, which makes my job at Shape especially satisfying.”
Additionally, Stacey looks to Facebook and Twitter for reader feedback and story ideas. She recognizes that editors must be “flexible, curious, and open-minded” when it comes to new media, and shared that Shape is currently rebuilding its website to provide readers a more “exciting and interactive” online environment.
Though now at the top, Stacey had to start at the bottom to find her groove, just like everyone else.
While attending Grinnell College, she worked on an undergraduate degree in English literature and a two-packs-a-day smoking habit. It wasn’t until she graduated that she kicked smoking, got in shape and began to consider a career in journalism.
Stacey’s first taste of the profession came shortly after college, when a family connection helped her land a small copy-editing and proofreading gig in Chicago, which eventually led to an internship with Chicagomagazine. The internship put some editing experience under her belt and earned her a few bylines, which prepared her for her next role as an assistant editor at Outside.
“The Chicago magazine internship was a real launching pad,” Stacey said. “I stayed at Outside for four years, again learning a lot about editing and writing, and being promoted after two years to associate editor. That was essentially my ‘graduate school’ in magazines.”
Thereafter, the itch to move to New York (“the Big Time,” she called it) took over, and following stints at Diversion and Savvy, she finally landed her first top-editing job as managing editor at Mademoiselle. While there, she received her first of many freelance assignments from the New Yorker.
Stacey intends to slow her freelance output while on staff with Shape, but she is not one to settle down.
In 2011, Stacey launched The Food Bitch, a blog that turns a critical eye on American food culture and serves as a platform to discuss issues ranging from the growing obesity epidemic to the unhealthy perceptions of female beauty perpetuated by culture and the media.
While addressing topics close to her heart, the blog also allows Stacey to hone her editing skills and stay abreast with the latest issues in health and nutrition.
“[The Food Bitch] forces me to be my own editor, which is good practice,” she admitted. “The blog also is constantly teaching me about what people are interested in.”
Indeed, professional well-being—like its personal counterpart—is enhanced by regular exercise. With that in mind, Stacey offered a final thought on her latest venture: “it’s a constant education.”
Stacey is interested in receiving “anything that a PR contact thinks might interest [Shape’s] readers,” but wishes to only be contacted by PR professionals who take the time to familiarize themselves with Shape’s audience and demographics and “[tailor] the pitch to products of particular interest to our active, health-oriented readership.”
She wants to be reached by email, and cautions PR professionals not to contact her by telephone.
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Michelle Stacey, deputy editor
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