Teenager's Petition Changes the Face of Magazine
Seventeen Magazine vows to stop airbrushing models.
Being a 14-year-old girl can be awkward. Trust me, I was a pre-teen who flipped through the pages of Seventeen Magazine and felt strange in my own skin as I saw photo after photo of seemingly perfect models.
I would imagine that it's even harder to be a teenager now in the digital age, when the majority of photographs in today's magazines are Photoshopped. Models are digitally enhanced to be skinnier, their lips made to be a deeper red, their teeth a piercing white, and their skin blemish free with the simple tap of a button. It's enough to make a young girl feel just plain ugly.
Julia Bluhm, a 14-year-old from Waterville, Maine, grew tired of watching the girls in her ballet class compare themselves to the unrealistic, retouched photos in magazines. She decided to take a stand against it.
She launched a petition at change.org, demanding that the editors of Seventeen Magazine publish one untouched photo spread an issue and show behind the scenes of photo sessions so that teenage girls could see the reality of what takes place in the studio. From Bluhm's petition letter,
I want to see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that’s supposed to be for me. For the sake of all the struggling girls all over America, who read Seventeen and think these fake images are what they should be, I’m stepping up. I know how hurtful these photoshopped images can be. I’m a teenage girl, and I don’t like what I see. None of us do.
In the end, Bluhm stood in solidarity with fellow protestors and hand delivered 84,000 signatures to the magazine's headquarters. Ann Shoket, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, listened and wrote in the editor’s letter in the July 2012 issue that the magazine had written a Body Peace Treaty. Shoket wrote,
Recently I've heard from some girls who were concerned that we'd strayed from [our] promise to show real girls as they really are. [...] And while we work hard behind the scenes to make sure we're being authentic, your notes made me realize that it was time for us to be more public about our commitment. So we created a Body Peace Treaty for the magazine staff -- a list of vows on how we run things here so we always made you feel amazing!
It was a huge victory for teenage girls everywhere as Seventeen vowed to never change girls' bodies or face shapes, always to feature real girls and models who are healthy, and be totally upfront about what goes into their photo shoots by showing behind the scenes on Tumblr.
Now, Bluhm's crusade and SPARK Summet are charging toward Teen Vogue with another petition, asking them to follow Seventeen’s example and pledge not to alter any model’s body or face and to celebrate beauty in all its forms.
Do you think that magazines need to stop retouching photos of models? Parents of daughters, do you worry that photos in fashion and lifestyle magazines can distort a girl's self-image? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.