Shape’s Editorial Guidelines

Shape is the only digital fitness destination and community that offers inclusive, trusted, and empowering expert-led guidance and advice for anyone at any point in their wellness journey who wants to prioritize their health, have fun, and lead an active lifestyle while also cutting through the noise of quick fixes and unvetted fads.

Principles

Empower and inform, never dictate: We’re here to provide you with the reliable, science-backed, expert-led information and advice from industry professionals, accredited sources, and real people with the lived experiences to uniquely speak on various wellness topics. The service we provide is meant to empower you with information, not tell you what to do with it. So, even though we may report on the purported benefits or pitfalls of a certain dietary supplement, aesthetic beauty procedure, or type of workout, that doesn’t mean said thing will be right for you. It’s your wellness journey, and we want you to use the knowledge you glean from our stories and experts to help safely and confidently guide you wherever your path leads.

Balanced approach to wellness: We believe in challenging workouts and their ability to strengthen your mind, body, and soul. We also believe in the immense power of rest and recovery and giving yourself grace to choose what’s right for you, right now. We believe in the science behind nutrition and all that food can provide for your active lifestyle. We also believe the word “guilt” has no business being associated with food — you can have your protein bar and your pizza too. We also understand that body positivity, body neutrality, and self-love can coexist with health and fitness goals. You can love your body and want to improve your wellbeing, too.

Editorial Ethics

The fitness and wellness industries are founded on the idea of wanting to become healthier in some way, which is inherently a “good” thing. However, even the best intentions can have harmful side effects. Toxic diet culture, drastic weight-loss practices, and quick-fix products have, in part, contributed to a distorted view of “beauty” and “health” for many people.

We make every effort to ensure you won’t find any of that when you engage with Shape content. However, older content may still exist online, and while we routinely audit stories with these ethics in mind, please let us know if you notice any piece that doesn’t meet these standards. Our focus is on creating a safe space that’s free of toxic, triggering, or biased language — whether subtle or direct. Here are a few ways we do this:

  • Assign, write, edit, and create content for the site and on social media that is aligned with the Health at Every Size, or HAES, approach. This methodology of health care, trademarked by the Association for Size Diversity and Health, looks beyond someone’s weight when considering health markers and risk factors. For us, this essentially means that being healthy is not equated to a person’s weight, nor does their body size limit their abilities.
  • Amplify anti-diet culture voices and stories that take a closer look at some of the deeply rooted ideas of what we thought we knew about what it means to eat, move, and live healthfully. (For more insight, we suggest reading: ​​Why You Should Stop Using the Term 'Clean Eating', Can We Please Stop Talking About "Belly Fat"?, and Why I Felt Compelled to Delete My Transformation Photos.)
  • Reframe exercise as movement for joy and longevity rather than an obligation for aesthetics and quick fixes.
  • Ask writers to acknowledge our Writer’s Pledge centered around inclusive journalism
  • Routinely audit existing stories for outdated or passé vernacular that could be harmful or lack appropriate context, and remove or update content with the latest science and inclusive language.

Fact-Checking

Part of Shape’s mission is to make health and fitness more approachable, less exclusive; more fun, less stuffy; more achievable, less confusing — you get the point. But while we may approach complicated topics in a conversational manner to make them more digestible for the reader, our reporting and research are something we take very seriously. Every story we publish is thoroughly reviewed by our editors for accuracy and necessary context to ensure statistics and facts are current and clearly reported. Selections of our content are also put through an additional review process, which is indicated on each of these stories, where copy is thoroughly inspected by professional fact-checkers who look at every sentence, statistic, and statement of fact with a critical eye, cross-checking our articles with peer-reviewed studies and the most up-to-date clinical research. We know this work is particularly important during a time when unvetted health fads, quick fixes, and misinformation can quickly spread online.

Writers and Sources

Our writers are authorities in their respective fields and many are veteran journalists, former editors, or industry leaders, each of whom is able to bring a unique set of knowledge and experience to every piece they touch. No matter the topic being covered — whether a just-for-fun beauty hack or a serious overview of a health condition — journalistic standards and ethics are at the center of every assignment. Plus, our contributors’ thorough reporting is built on the foundation of Shape’s Writer’s Pledge, which requires them to make best efforts to include insight from diverse expert sources, as well as to reference inclusive scientific research or lack thereof.

Corrections and Content Quality Updates

We take pride in the accuracy of our reporting, especially during a time when misinformation online — particularly harmful inaccuracies regarding health — can easily spread. However, science can evolve and information can change. We make efforts to regularly review and update content to ensure it’s reflective of the most up-to-date research, understanding, and language, but if you notice an error, please send suggested corrections to Shape’s editorial director at alyssa.sparacino@dotdashmdp.com.

Diversity and Inclusion

At Shape, “wellness is for all.” We want every reader to feel represented and seen on our pages and in our stories. We know that the concept of “wellbeing” and what’s considered “healthy” can be different for everyone, and various factors (access to medical services and healthy food, cultural practices, individual physical and mental health history, and bias and discrimination) can impact your version of health.

We also understand the influence of our brand and take the responsibility of diversity, equity, and inclusion seriously because we believe in the power of this reach to help create a more inclusive wellness space. As such, we have published specific Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Allyship pledges, which you can read in full here.

Additionally, we work with Dotdash Meredith’s in-house Anti-Bias Review Board, which reviews content for biases and provides feedback. Shape is also in the process of putting together an expert review board made up of industry leaders who will be able to not only review content for accuracy and completeness, but also keep an eye on various sensitivities such as mental health stigma, disability and accessibility considerations, and historical and cultural reflection.

Product Reviews

Whether we're researching the best protein powders, testing wireless headphones, or putting running shoes through their paces, our product reviews are rooted in the expertise of our testers, editors, and contributing board of advisors. While we receive affiliate commissions on some of the items purchased through our content — and are always transparent about the ability to earn these commissions on any relevant story — all recommendations are entirely editorial and based on thorough research, expert guidance, and hands-on experience. This is never impacted by brands or PR agencies that send products for editorial consideration — our thoughts and opinions are always our own. Investing in your health often means investing your hard-earned money, and we want you to be armed with unbiased knowledge to make informed buying decisions. Learn more about our policies and processes surrounding product recommendations here.